Open Thread: Introducing a New Comments Tool

by cv harquail on January 25, 2015

Time for an open thread– and an upgrade in our commenting practices!

6800731109_fdb88d574f_m

I’d like to introduce a new tool, a tool that I’ve been using ‘behind the scenes’ — on about 20% of the comments — to help keep our commenting easy to read and easy to respond to.

You might know it by sight or recognize it by its symbol. You might use its old-fashioned name, “The Carriage Return“, or its newfangled moniker “Enter“.

Whatever you call it, this tool makes every comment better.  

Long comments are become readable. Short comments become more pithy. Even spelling mistakes disappear when this tool is used. Srsly!

Try it — it’s available to anyone, over there on the right-hand side of your keyboard. You can reach it with a slight streeeetch of your pinkie.

Just do this,

a23CEnd you’ll save me from the silly editing work of adding line breaks and creating paragraphs.

Bonus:  You’ll make your comments easier to read, and easier to enjoy.

Now go try it, in the open thread, below!

 

{ 117 comments }

Should be working January 25, 2015 at 12:25 pm

I am SO GLAD for the open thread! I have a peculiar and sensitive matching conundrum. Let me say in advance that I am trying very consciously to consider what in myself is bigotry and what is simply realistic.

Background: We have had 5 female au pairs from western European countries, but not France. But we all speak some French and my kids learn it a lot in school (and could use help actually, including practice). I have toyed with trying a male au pair, which my sons would love.

So looking through our agency’s au pairs I notice a young man who seems a stellar candidate. His video is thoughtfully made, charming and shows him working with kids a lot, playful and energetic and thoughtful. I mean it is in the top 2 videos I have ever seen, of hundreds I have seen over 5 years, it’s that persuasive and good. He has had real responsibility including army service but also volunteers with kids. He includes a photo of himself with the French president–because when the president came to his town and wanted to meet with a student, the mayor of the town chose him. He has also been a professional driver (more on that below).

He is also apparently a practicing Muslim. He keeps halal food habits, which I guess means he only eats meat from halal butchers, which is like kosher but Muslim. The profile lists him as going to mosque once a month.

I am Jewish. Not very observant, but we do some basics for holidays. Kids go to a Jewish day camp, which has lightly Zionist elements. Husband is Christian and we do some of that too.

Is it insane to consider this candidate? I am NOT looking to be a beacon of cultural understanding and world peace. I just want a great au pair. The halal meat thing seems like a practical issue and he says he would not expect his host family to buy halal meat for him. But what really worries me is the question of Jewish-Muslim tension and especially attitudes around Israel. We are your average lefty-ambivalent types, with some sentiments of support for Israel in general but lots of criticism of its policies. And what would it mean to host a French Muslim young man in “these times”? Let me add that his extensive driving experience comes from being the driver of the children of a Saudi prince. (I guess if he can drive royalty around Paris he can get my kids to school…). Thoughts anyone?

ProPair January 25, 2015 at 2:40 pm

He sounds like a pretty awesome dude. If I understand correctly most of your discomfort comes from the idea of having a Muslim in a Jewish household, yes? I think the it would be fair to ask him some probing questions in the interview to get an idea of exactly what his personal religious philosophy is and how it could potentially affect your household. Some important things to ask him might be:

-How do you feel about celebrating Hanukkah with us?
-How will you handle questions from the kids about religion?
-Are you okay with preparing meat for our children that isn’t halal?
-Are you comfortable with bringing our children to their Jewish day camp?

As a young French Muslim right now, especially one with a military background, he is probably very sensitive to how his religion is viewed by the world. I want to chip in my personal opinion that regardless of religion, young people who want to travel are pretty open minded and I doubt that if he served in the French military he’s also an adamant and vocal Palestine advocate. But I could be wrong.

If he does have a problem with being in a Jewish household, he’ll most likely decline the match. From what you describe he sounds like a wonderful au pair. Ultimately, however, your comfort level is your comfort level and you get to decide who comes into your home. This is a very interesting question and I look forward to what everyone has to say.

WarmStateMomma January 26, 2015 at 12:14 am

Nicely said, ProPair.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 25, 2015 at 2:50 pm

When we were considering candidates to be our 2nd AP, one candidate stood out. She was German, and DH, who is Jewish (culturally, but not observant), felt a twinge. He ask her, “Will you have a problem living with a Jewish family?” And when she replied, no, we proceeded, and had a great 18 months today. To this date, she is the AP who has returned the most to visit.

We have interviewed several Israeli candidates and have rejected all of them. Why? Because they want to observe the sabbath, and while we don’t need an AP to work every Saturday, DH and I have several “crunch months” during the year, when we either have required activities on Friday night or Saturday. Several asked for separate dishes. And at that point, I said “No thank you.”You’d be happier with an observant family with young children or a non-Jewish family with young children who could guarantee that you’d be off to observe the sabbath.”

So, my advice, but it on the candidate. He has rubbed shoulders with royalty. Why would he want to care for middle-class Jewish/Christian children in Seattle. Let him imagine how it would work. Let him say no. Let him tell you why he wants to leave Paris and go halfway around the world to care for children. And then, if he still seems like a good match, decide whether or not you’re ready for a mini United Nations.

Should be working January 25, 2015 at 6:04 pm

Young Germans are in my experience very respectful of Jews and Judaism–they have been taught at school mostly by 1968ers who rebelled against their own Nazi-era parents. The German au pairs might not know anything about Judaism besides some romanticized images, but they are polite and respectful about it from what I know. And given the recent history Germany and Germans are among the last to criticize Israel and Germany is probably Israel’s best ally in all Europe.

Let me add about this young Muslim candidate that his DiSC is–gasp!–not at all among my usual chosen profiles. He is high D and I, which means goal-directed but patient/steady/diligent. This profile sticks to chosen goals and will do the work to meet them. Extremely self-reliant and responsible (one flaw is lack of ability to delegate tasks) but the profile does not reflect much orientation toward interpersonal skills. Then again, if he takes as his task “to be a good au pair” I wonder if all that sense of accountability would be directed to making his HF happy. Like that is maybe what made him produce such a fabulous, energetic, go-getter video, with all kinds of kids having fun with him and him making little jokes.

hOstCDmom January 25, 2015 at 6:34 pm

More later re your initial question, but a few quick thoughts, not really on point to your original query, but that came to mind “knowing you” and from your other posts over the past years!

1.does goal oriented mean “my goal is to learn and speak English, and thus I don’t want to speak French with HKids”? Not saying it is, but I think an important question if this is YOUR goal.

2. re why is he interested in being an AP — good Q — I would definitely ask him that. I wonder if “French Muslim” = French citizen or not? If he came to France as a child from another country, and has not achieved French citizenship, it might be that getting a visa to come to the US is not so easy for him, given gender and home country.

3. I would want to suss out his views on women – maybe ask what his sisters and/or mother do? I would not want a young Muslim man to impose restrictive ideas on my daughters…I’m NOT saying he would, or that all Muslim men would, but it seems a point worth exploring (and, FWIW, I would have the same q for someone who was an Evangelical Christian, an Orthodox Jew etc., basically anyone who might have a cultural or religious reason to define roles for women in a way that doesn’t accord with how I do so.) In the same vein, I would think this might be relevant to socializing with other APs, the majority of whom are young, unmarried women…many of whom are not going to be living religiously observant lifestyles while in the USA.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 25, 2015 at 8:34 pm

We reached out of our comfort zone and matched with a non-Western AP once. Our biggest criticism of her was that she wouldn’t stretch out of her comfort zone (e.g. try new foods) and in fact seemed to shrink against the enormity of the AP experience. She retreated into a religion in which she did not grow up, because it gave her an opportunity to speak her second language, eat familiar foods, and avoid other APs. When assigned to be a buddy to an incoming AP, she shirked the opportunity to reach out and make someone feel at home.

I’m not saying a young Muslim male would do this, but you might as well good ahead and ask questions like, “How do you make friends?” “Most socializing among APs in the United States is done with other APs, who are mostly women. Would you feel comfortable in this suitation?”

That being said, even if you do match with this AP, don’t assume that even if he chooses a mosque over a cluster meeting that he will be radicalized or antagonistic toward you. My guess is that there aren’t a ton of families looking to match with him, so he might welcome a slightly intrusive conversation, especially if you tell him you’re trying to understand how he might successfully complete his year with your family.

Oh, and SBW, you’re spot on when it comes to Germans – they’ve all celebrated our holidays politely. It’s child #2 that I’m always trying to shut up – he loves Mel Brooks and is very prone to making inappropriate quips about Nazis. We warn every AP with whom we’ve matched that while we’re proud of our culture, we don’t keep a Kosher diet and pick and choose how we celebrate our holidays. We always go out of our way to find someone to take our APs to services on Christmas and Easter (meaning we ask them if they would appreciate it and then follow through and find a willing family if they want it).

My guess is that your French Muslim, having grown up in a country that embraces secularism, might find America’s passion for a multitude of religions shocking — and maybe exhilarating.

Should be working January 25, 2015 at 8:55 pm

Correction: He is high D and *S*, S means patience and steadiness.

UKAuPair January 25, 2015 at 5:50 pm

I think he sounds like a fantastic au pair! And I don’t think he should be ruled out on the basis of his religion, either. Ask him about it, as has been suggested, but do be careful how you phrase it because islamophobia is rife in Europe at the moment, particularly in light of recent events, and he’s probably very aware of his religion.

One of my best friends is Muslim. It isn’t a problem for us; she doesn’t drink, she usually eats vegetarian food to avoid the halal issue, and she’s one of the most politically engaged people I know. She was Charities Prefect in sixth form and raised huge amounts of money for charity. I’ve learnt so much about Islam from her and I wish we’d met when we were younger. If you want your children to grow up open-minded and accepting then I can’t think of a better way to do it.

NNTexasHM January 26, 2015 at 11:00 am

This is a fascinating thread and I’ve enjoyed hearing from both host families and Au Pairs on their approach to this issue.

Our family is made up of a mixture of religions but we are frankly agnostic – husband and daughter are Jewish but not super observant, I grew up Catholic but more than anything, participate in activities at the temple. We participate in religion more for our daughter.

Given that, we are very open with prospective Au Pairs about our habits because my background (parents are Colombian although I was born and raised here) can be misleading – we found this out with our first Au Pair from Bolivia who claimed to understand when we said we didn’t observe Christmas but really had NO IDEA and I know it led to a harder time during the holidays for her. It’s understandable: if an Au Pair from South America sees my background they may assume there are similarities in how we celebrate. I am very careful to explain “because we celebrate the Jewish holidays I am not a big Christmas observer so if you are expecting a big celebration around Christmas, exchange of Christmas presents, etc you won’t find that with us. We celebrate Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, and Passover. We don’t celebrate both although we would be happy if you wanted to celebrate with special traditions from your home country”. But I explain that they need to take the lead on that.

I’ve found this was much less of a deal with our 3 European Au Pairs who are less observant and use the time to take vacation and see other parts of the states or visit friends.

Either way, I echo what people have stated on this thread – ask lots of questions along the lines of what ProPair stated and be sure to discuss specific situations “what if the kids ask you x”, “tell me how you observe x holiday, will you feel comfortable participating in x activities which we observe”, etc.

Should be working January 27, 2015 at 12:51 pm

Update: We had a very nice and engaging email exchange. He was totally interested in my family and I believe he would absolutely have come. I wrote entirely frankly about my concerns about Halal, Jewish/Muslim and most especially Israel/Palestine attitudes. We exchanged about a dozen emails in 3 days, it was intense and interesting.

The halal discussion was funny. He told me he eats no pork (no surprise) and only halal meat. But then he added that he can eat kosher meat and also “Christian meat”–this was especially funny because we were writing in French and it translates into English as “Christian steak”. I wrote to him, “What makes a steak Christian??” and he says if it was slaughtered by a Christian it’s ok, but he could not for instance eat “Buddhist steak”. So I got to wondering how on earth we would ever know whether the butcher at Safeway was a Christian! And whether this means it would have to be a sincere, believing Christian or just someone who vaguely identified as such…

About Muslim/Jewish he wrote that his brother married a Jewish-Moroccan woman and it is fine. About Israel/Palestine he was circumspect but said that he can imagine having different opinions and we could have interesting discussions.

Then something interesting came out: His sister was formerly an au pair in our town!! I asked for contact info for that family but he never quite reacted to that.

I decided that this was a lot of risk–and frankly the DiSC profile was a big problem for me too. So I listened to my own commonsense and decided that someone who was from a different country than we are used to, doesn’t speak one of our important languages, is male and we never had that, doesn’t eat like we do, is a genuine practitioner of another religion, disagrees perhaps vehemently on something sensitive, identifies strongly with an extremely conservative Arab country (not like e.g. Turkey, which is more diverse and liberal) and has the wrong DiSC, is too much of a stretch. I wish we could try him out for a month, but we can’t. So I’m back to my usual profile type.

Still we agreed that if we were in the same place at some point we would meet for coffee! I like this guy, it was definitely a “cultural exchange” moment to email with him about all these intense and personal things.

AlwaysHopeful HM January 27, 2015 at 9:49 am

SBW– the thing that strikes me in this is that you probably want to consider your own ability to handle whatever assumptions you may have about this candidate. During my last search, I came across a very warm, friendly French male AP who also was an observant Muslim. I am a pretty far-left leaning Christian, and a minority (so particularly sensitive to discrimination) and i was horrified by some of the concerns that popped into my head, including concerns about offending my Jewish friends (so assumptions made about them as well). To (over)compensate, I started telling myself all the reasons I shouldn’t have the worries I did, and began researching halal butchers in the area, etc. to brace myself to welcome a Muslim AP.

I started to realize that the question for me wasn’t going to be “is this person going to believe women are inferior, etc.”, but rather “am I going to be able to really look at him as a person and not a steretotype?” Even writing it now, I’m embarrassed to have wondered these things, but I did.

In the end, he turned out to be pretty flaky, so not a good fit for our family, but the experience made me do some deep thinking about who I am, what I believe, and what I want for my family in terms of cultural exchange. I’m actually glad that things didn’t work out with that AP because I don’t think I was in a position to be fair to him as just another person in our home. But, now that I have a greater awareness that I had this prejudice I hadn’t previously recognized, I have been more focused on overcoming those issues, and I’ll certainly consider a Muslim AP for the future.

With all of that said, what concerns me about your candidate is that his experience all seems to be glamorous at the highest level. I would ask him a lot of challenge questions about how he would handle the day drudgery of life in a regular family with regular kids (assuming that’s what you’ve got!).

old au pair mom January 27, 2015 at 2:01 pm

I concur with this last paragraph. Why does he want to be an AP when he has lead this fairly glamorous life in France? Being an AP is hard work and it is every day. The one AP we hired who had a similar stellar background, left after one week. We were just her hopping off point and her free ticket. I am not saying that will happen, but with friends in high places, this young man could perhaps do big and better things right where he is. I suggest a lot of questions, and I also wish you the best of luck.

Anna January 27, 2015 at 10:49 am

He will say no to you. I am also Jewish, and I have tried to reach out to a French Muslim candidate (not because I particularly loved her at first glance, but because my matching coordinator put her in my file and I thought why not, maybe she had a reason).

I got a very firm and a very quick no, like “we are not a good match” from her.

If you have any second thoughts like that, why even consider him? There are plenty of fish in the sea.

Seattle Mom January 28, 2015 at 9:31 pm

I am Jewish and I have considered Muslim au pairs before. I have many friends who are Muslim, some from Europe, and they are super cool. I think if he would be fine living in a Jewish household then it would probably be fine. You should ask him straight out if he has any reservations, and if he does then there’s your answer. He sounds like a great candidate.

The only time religion has been an issue for me is if someone identifies as strongly Christian, especially evangelical. I’m more worried about people who grow up thinking it’s good to proselytize. I haven’t met any Muslims who try to convert Jews, though it’s true that some would probably not be comfortable living in a Jewish household.

TexasHM January 28, 2015 at 10:16 pm

LOL well there is my validation! :) SeattleMom I mentioned a little further down the thread that I felt we were discriminated against because we state we are evangelical christians in interviewing. For the record I have never converted (or tried to convert) anybody and I looked up the definition and posted below and proselytizing is not a foundation of the faith or anywhere in the definition. In fact a very large subset of christians are evangelicals (by doctrine) and may not even realize it (like I was until recently). Ironically, in my own personal life experience I have had Jewish, Catholic and Mormon friends all try to convert me so I think one’s tendency toward proselytizing may be less denominational and more upbringing or particular church perhaps?

Seattle Mom January 29, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Yes, I am sorry, that did come out pretty badly stereotyping against evangelical Christians. I must admit that I don’t even really know what that means. I guess I better get educated on that. m I have been equating evangelical with”convert all the Jews.” Thanks for setting me straight. iyI have

Old China Hand January 25, 2015 at 2:36 pm

I think he has great potential but would use some challenge emails or skype sessions to talk with him about some of the difficult issues you bring up. There are so many different types of Muslims, just like there are so many different types of Christians and Jews.

My parents lived in Haifa, Israel for nearly 4 years while working at the Baha’i World Center and in that city you can really see an ability to coexist peacefully and happily that we rarely see in other places. You may find that he is quite open to topics that you don’t expect because he is French. He may not be. If you really match with him, you need to know that he can have those tough conversations and so doing it during matching lets you test that out.

I should add that I am also a Baha’i, so my perspective is clearly biased by that.

Dorsi January 25, 2015 at 9:39 pm

We are “practicing atheists” — we tell our children very plainly our beliefs and expect our APs not to contradict us. Many people think that “don’t go to church” means, spend our Sundays doing other things but still telling the kids that Jesus loves them.

We do mention that during matching (fairly explicitly), especially as we mostly match with South Americans. We tell them that we respect their beliefs and encourage them to practice their religion, though we can not guarantee them every Sunday off. (It seems nearly all of our Au Pairs go to church almost every Sunday at home – per their applications – but almost never in the US, even when it is quite convenient).

A number of quite religious APs (marked by having priests as siblings) have never responded to our initial inquiry. So, I think it is nice to get that out of the way as soon as possible. The advice you have gotten seems good, and I think if he is interested in moving forward, you should hold him up to the same scrutiny you would hold anyone else to.

TexasHM January 25, 2015 at 10:05 pm

Dorsi I think we were typing at the same time! I find it so interesting that people think you not attending church just means not checking the box and that APs think us actively attending church = religious fanatics or cult members! You wouldn’t believe the questions we get! (Can they drink coffee? Can they wear makeup for a special occasion? Do we sew our clothes and will we provide them for the AP as well or will she be expected to sew them herself?!)
I’m sure I’m hypersensitive to discrimination anyway because we are in a secondary geo (not NY or CA basically) so we get a lot of TX stereotyping and discrimination as well which is funny because I’m not even from here! But I digress…moral of the story is never assume, always ask and discuss and this only lays the foundation for great open communication if you do end up matching. Good luck!

WarmStateMomma January 26, 2015 at 12:12 am

“We don’t really go to church” is what we say to people we aren’t close enough to to disclose that we are atheist. We live in a red state and you just can’t tell people that kind of thing. Since we only have Chinese APs it isn’t hard to match up our religious beliefs, but the Asians I’ve hosted just don’t talk about religion as often as Americans. It’s less prominent on their radar. Of course, we ask them not to share the fact that we are atheist with other people.

TexasHM January 25, 2015 at 9:56 pm

Interesting! I’m going to share at a high level – differing religions in the household in interviewing because this happens with us every round. Why? Because we are an active, evangelical Christian household. We do not discriminate in any way toward au pairs (not that you are either), instead we lay it all out for them and then use open ended questions to see if they would be comfortable. We have had two ex-Catholics (as in denounced it not just didn’t attend), an Easter Christmas catholic (her term) and a very actively practicing catholic who was our only burnout AP. We almost matched with an atheist (we were ready and timing was off, she came back to us but we had already pursued another candidate or we would have matched with her) that was actually an agnostic (another reason we ask lots of questions – a drop down category doesn’t tell us much). We explain our household (prayer before meals, at bedtime, scripture on walls, attend on Sundays plus special events, regularly talk with kids about our faith, etc) and then ask them if they would be comfortable living in our home. If they say yes, then we dig deeper. We don’t make APs attend, we don’t track attendance or judge if they opt out but they are always welcome just like any other family activity. Our match that arrives in April is an evangelical Christian (only one I have ever interviewed ever!) and we put her through the same conversations and explanations because you just never know! I would be explicit about what and how you celebrate, what you eat, how/if religion is discussed, how often you attend services and what your expectation (if any) is of the AP and then see where the conversation goes. Also, we ask in email #1 how often they attend church and if they plan to attend in the U.S. and if yes I ask them for more detail all before sharing our info so I would explore his faith first and then describe yours and then discuss. We get turned down all the time by APs that think we are judgy bible beaters or cult members (we are not to be clear!) but I’d rather be honest and get someone comfortable than downplay it to sell a match. I also have them talk to our ex-APs and encourage them to ask about this if they have any concerns.

Old China Hand January 25, 2015 at 10:32 pm

This is so fascinating to read on a higher level about everyone. We are a week into ap 2, who was trained at the same orphanage in the same city as ap1. Both wanted to attend church even though we do not and we found people to take them. Ap2 is interested in Christianity partly because it is American and partly because her grandmother was Christian (though a time that that was a problem in China). In any case, I think that by not being Christian but members of a minority religion we need to make sure that our aps know that we are religious but they won’t do the traditional Christian things with us.

Anyways the whole reason I started replying was that it seems like one of the things our new ap is most nervous about is putting my son down for his nap. We say prayers together in the morning (just kids and me usually), with each child individually before naps, and with each kid individually before bed. Our son is learning his first Baha’i prayer (in Chinese, so within rules of ap only speaks chinese to him) and she is very nervous that she can’t sing it to him properly or he won’t want her to. It is short enough that I’m sure she has learned it by now. Anyway, I am ok with her doing whatever routine she wants for nap time and didn’t expect her being worried that she can’t do the same prayer routine that we do.

HRHM January 25, 2015 at 10:28 pm

Our first AP was Bosniak, muslim by ethnicity as it were. Meaning she was Muslim but did not cover, eat Halal or go to Mosque. We only found out her religion after she arrived because she was afraid to put it in her application, so chose “none” instead. It was a very broadening year for us as a family and I never felt that her difference in beliefs affected our relationship at all.

My main concerns would be the Halal observation and what his plans are for Ramadan. He may not realize how expensive it will be for him to purchase his own Halal meat! I’d get some prices for him from the local butcher so he can see that it will quickly eat up his stipend (no pun intended). Also if plans on observing Ramadan, you may be in for a long month. Fasting from sunup to sundown while trying to take care of active kids is not easy and his energy is likely to suffer greatly during that month. Food for thought…

Nina January 26, 2015 at 1:28 am

I think you should ask him more questions about his religion, his friends – try to get a feel if he is friends with only muslims or other religions as well, but don’t ask directly. You can ask to describe what kind of friends he spends most of his time with, what is important in friendships for him, where and how he met his best friends? This should tell you realistically how accepting he really is of other religions…Also call all of his references…

SwissAupair January 26, 2015 at 2:01 am

I had Hostkids asking me about religion (I have no religion but I’m not an atheist). I always encouraged them to practice their religion, as the parents have told them (like praying before every meal) and I also participated while I was with them, but I struggled with questions like “do you pray before you sleep” and I answered “no” – “why not?” The kids of course knew that I’ve never joined them to go to the church, but I could not tell them that I don’t believe in god. What would a HF wish me to do in that situation? (Kids were between 3 and 10)

AuPair Paris January 26, 2015 at 6:56 am

I told my Catholic kids that I didn’t believe in God! They asked me directly! And I said I didn’t – but that I knew lots and lots of bible stories – so for religious guidance they should go to their parents, but if they just wanted to know about Moses, I could tell them.

Their response was “Mummy doesn’t either. Daddy does though!” Surprising, as I had assumed that the whole family was religious, but when it came up later, my HM said she accompanied the kids to mass to help keep an eye on them – but didn’t take communion, and didn’t actually believe herself… The more you know!

NoVA Twin Mom January 26, 2015 at 9:37 am

I think this might be an “Ask your host family” question. You may be able to come up with a mutually agreeable answer for the kids.

For example, I once nannied for a Catholic family that I went to church with even though I’m not Catholic (I didn’t have a church there that I liked). The kids asked why I didn’t take communion. I answered “because I never did First Communion” (leaving off the rest of the sentence – because we don’t do First Communion at Protestant churches :)). That allowed me to answer their question, they thought it was funny/weird because I was well over 7 but hadn’t done First Communion, and it allowed the subject to change without an in-depth discussion about the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism.

TexasHM January 26, 2015 at 11:53 am

Yes ask the family. The reason we ask so many questions about our potential APs faith (or lack thereof) is because we want to try and figure out how we would make situations like this work for the kids. We clearly say during interviewing that hosting another faith is not an issue for us but telling the kids “God isn’t real” or directly contradicting our beliefs to the kids is not going to fly. We won’t make them pray but if they stop our kids from praying or discourage it we would have a major conversation. With the agnostic we wanted to match with the consensus was that she would direct the kids to ask us anytime she started to get uncomfortable with the talk track and she actually asked to learn more about our faith and beliefs so that she could echo those sentiments to the kids (even though she did not necessarily believe it). We were fine with that.
NoVA – nice dodge with the communion question, if our AP had responded in similar fashion we wouldn’t have had an issue with something like this. We teach our kids that others have other beliefs and that is ok, but we also want to make sure that we have the opportunity to teach our beliefs and that AP doesn’t interfere with that when they are too young to understand the dynamics. When mine are teenagers, I will be less concerned.

NoVA Twin Mom January 26, 2015 at 12:09 pm

TexasHM – you’ll appreciate this – I don’t identify as evangelical (I think you said below that you do) but am conservative protestant. I don’t make it a big deal with our au pairs, they can come to church if they want to see what it is like (they usually want to visit once or twice, especially at Easter and Christmas), or stay home because they’re young and want to sleep in. Most of our au pairs have been from western Europe, so even if they don’t practice religion regularly, they have absorbed some by osmosis.

Then I heard my preschooler say “Oh My G-d”. Yeah, we don’t say that outside of prayer, certainly not in casual conversation. I realized that they learned it from our au pair. Who learned it in English class, as a phrase that Americans say when something doesn’t go their way, or as an expression of astonishment.

Circle back with au pair, who had no idea there was a religious aspect to that phrase. Never occurred to her – because she was taught it was an acceptable phrase, there’s no actual swear word in the sentence, and she had never put together that “god” in that phrase meant the God in church. (No judgement on my part, I remember learning rote phrases in German class eons ago that I never gave a thought to other than to regurgitate on a test, so I get it). Then had to explain that I’m fine with “Oh my Goodness” or even “Oh my” but that I don’t want the kids saying that particular phrase.

I haven’t heard the phrase recently so I guess it worked. :)

Old China Hand January 26, 2015 at 12:20 pm

Our ap had the same issue! In Chinese they say something that roughly translates as “oh heavens” and she said that all the time. I didn’t talk with her about it because our son didn’t talk yet, but if it happened with the new ap, I certainly would. Never mind that she is suppod to only speak Chinese with the kids. :)

TexasHM January 26, 2015 at 1:45 pm

Interesting! Yes that would be a no-go in our household as well although I would worry less about my kids repeating it at this point because they would likely call out the AP for using it! :) You inspired me to go look up the definition of evangelical btw because I think that term misleads many and it was as I suspected. For some reason APs hear fanatical or missionary dead set on converting me when they hear that but honestly I use it only because we go to an evangelical christian church which by definition means – bible as source of truth, believes one needs to be saved, belief in JC as savior and expression of faith via lifestyle (walking the walk). By that definition I guess I have always been an evangelical even when I was little in a methodist church or older in a baptist one and then now in a non-denominational church so again, less about the terminology and categories and more about the practice I think. Maybe I will stop telling APs we are evangelicals and see if it makes a difference! ;) Just tell them we are christians. Although in fairness, I like the APs that aren’t afraid to be open minded and ask tough questions/discuss taboo topics during interviewing so maybe once again, it’s a good screening tool for us! ;)

NoVA Twin Mom January 26, 2015 at 2:06 pm

I guess that makes us evangelical too – but it seems to have some extra connotations lately, which is what I was trying to avoid. :) Thanks for teaching me something new today.

TexasHM January 26, 2015 at 2:38 pm

LOL that’s actually why I went and looked it up because you had me wondering if I was losing my mind and I am with you – when we first started going to an “evangelical christian” church I wondered myself what the difference was and the church was perfectly “normal” by my standards so I just associated (joined the church and took the title) without researching further but all evangelical means is essentially good news doctrine – points I put above so not sure why we all (myself included) have hesitations of the term unless at some point there were some people very aggressively trying to share the good news but in fairness, I have seen that in every doctrine that is not exclusive to Christianity. Super interesting conversation and proof of what an amazing group of people post here that we can chat religion and beliefs without judgment or added emotion. Circling back on the original question, I think being muslim likely often has negative connotations in America as well (not saying I agree, but that I have seen it) and I would be very interested to hear what the candidate believes and how he responds to all this.

SKNY January 27, 2015 at 10:33 am

we are evangelic here. I had great experience hosting one evangelical au pair, but realized we were not “evangelical” enough for the second one. My husband was raised catholic and will enjoy beer socially. He does go with us to an evangelical church every Sunday, pray and all, but will not get baptized (he still considers himself catholic even if he likes the Wesleyan church we go better).
The au pair was really uncomfortable with the fact that there was alcohol in the house, and that husband was not really a “christian” (I guess you are not really a christian unless you are baptized. and catholic baptism wont count).
We learned that evangelical can mean a lot of things for a lot of people

TexasHM January 27, 2015 at 11:58 am

So interesting! I find it fascinating how everyone’s definition of a term (even those in seemingly the same category) varies so wildly! We drink alcohol occasionally (not to excess) and definitely haven’t had an AP ask about our baptismal status! Christianity in general is a varying term as I noticed our recent failed match AP (devout Catholic) kept saying she was so glad we were Catholic and I made a point of telling her several times we were not! We don’t judge and have lots of friends of varying faiths but it appears that the terms are used differently even within country let alone internationally! In fairness, years ago I researched the differences between methodists and baptists (I was raised methodist but realized by belief structure I was actually a baptist!) and taught my husband (born and raised baptist) a few things in the process. I had resisted the term because I myself, had some preconceived notions of baptists (southern anyone?) and he asked me one day what exactly I didn’t align with in that faith and I couldn’t really tell him (except the baptizing multiple times I still don’t line up on that one)! Anyway as expressed, these terms can mean a lot of things to different people so you get the lucky job of trying to figure out not only what he believes and practices but also what he thinks you believe and practice, unravel that and then see if you can align in the same household. Definitely worth asking the questions but of course, be honest with yourself about how comfortable you are when you have reviewed it all.

AuPair Paris January 26, 2015 at 6:54 am

Being Muslim certainly wouldn’t mean that there were any problems with being bigoted or anti-feminist as some comments here have suggested! (That is – those things could exist, but it would be separate from religious observances.)

On the other hand, it’s definitely something to discuss. I’m not a Muslim, and I’d happily match with a Jewish family (and have) – but not with a family that expressed support for Israel. Not to start a debate about who is right about that, but I just don’t think I would work as an au pair for a family that did, since – kids ask questions. Particularly when they know that I have a higher degree in postcolonialism/global politics (goodbye internet anonymity, I guess?!) – which is usually explained to them as “knows a lot about politics and the world and human rights”. Last year, my host kids *were* asking lots of questions about Israel and Palestine and I’d feel really uncomfortable not to be able to answer them – or worse – to be told a particular way that I am allowed to answer them, that I don’t agree with. I try to answer all the kids questions as honestly and fairly as possible… But given that I Iean as far to the left as is humanly possible, and that these things are very important to me, it was important for me to find a family who broadly aligned with my views, and were happy to have me answer the kids questions as I wanted.

(And if we differ, well, I tell the kids what I think, and I’m sure they discuss it with their parents later anyway.)

So my conclusion is, I guess, when it comes to religion and politics that are very important to your family – ask everyone – not just the people who you suspect might have differing views! You may be surprised by who does and doesn’t agree with you!

SKNY January 26, 2015 at 7:35 am

I have a question: has anyone ever heard of Au pairs from Angola, mocambique, or guinea Bissau? Since Brazilians Au pairs seem not to be an option, I have been wondering about other countries whose official language is Portuguese, I’m case we ever go into the program again (specially as I am considering 2 jobs out of state)

NoVA Twin Mom January 26, 2015 at 9:32 am

I haven’t – but what about Portugal? I know the languages aren’t exactly the same but maybe some Portuguese would be better than none? I also haven’t seen au pairs from Portugal but imagine that might be more likely.

Agency Mama January 26, 2015 at 11:41 am

SKNY, I am curious why you say that Brazilian Au Pairs seem not to be an option. I have seen agencies that do have Brazilian Au Pairs available…..However, if Brazilians are not an option, I would agree with NoVA to look at Au Pairs from Portugal. I have also seen from time to time the Au Pairs from Ecuador and Paraguay speak Portuguese. They may not speak it as a first language, but they have some level of comprehension of it. I have never seen Au Pairs from the other countries you have mentioned. Good luck!

Old China Hand January 26, 2015 at 11:24 am

New topic:

We have a brand new ap and I am already having issues with her borrowing instead of buying things. I understand that girls from China don’t bring things when they travel and prepared for that except for a hairbrush. I had one that I don’t use because my hair is quite short, so I solved that but when I offered to buy a new one at the store, she said she didn’t need it. I kind of want mine back because it seems ridiculous to not have one. What if I wanted to blow dry my hair? I had decided not to loan this ap things because last one didn’t take good care of them (some ruined expensive sports bras) and I want things to be clear.

But, we knew she isn’t a confident swimmer (aka doesn’t really swim at all) and told her we would pay for swim lessons to start her 3rd or 4th day here and the pass for the gym/pool. The weekend before I reminded her that swimming started Monday. She said she couldn’t go because of her period. I told her to either suck it up and use a tampon or trust that 45 min in the pool without one wasn’t going to be an issue. I had bought her a box of tampons so she could try them if she wanted.

Then the day of the class she told me she couldn’t go because she didn’t bring her swimsuit. I was furious because I had told her that we were signing her up. And who comes to the states for a year to take care of little kids without a swim suit? Fortunately I happened to have just gone through my closet to get rid of things and hadn’t taken them to goodwill yet. Among the things were two swim suits that I had just replaced. Tankinis with full coverage bottoms, so not sexy style at all. She told me they were too short and she wasn’t comfortable with them. My mom badgered me in to loaning her a pair of gym shorts to wear over them. It was a pair I don’t wear much but not one I am willing to give to her. I told her the shorts are a loan and she can keep the swim suits.

A few days later I let her use my iPad to look for swimsuits online (she didn’t bring a computer or tablet). She only likes styles that are long skirts on one pieces and basically can’t find anything she likes for her size and a reasonable price. Having one sent from China would be cheap and easy and I keep suggesting that but she doesn’t want to hassle people in China to get her a swimsuit and airmail it here.

Yesterday we were talking to my mom, who is back in Hong Kong and considering buying ap a swimsuit to solve this problem, and ap told my mom that she plans to just keep wearing my shorts. I don’t want her wearing my shorts. They are mine. But, I am basically requiring her to take swim classes. Should I buy her her own pair of cheap running shorts so I can get mine back? Buy myself a pair I like better and let her keep the pair I loaned her? Have my mom get her a swimsuit?

Thanks!

HRHM January 26, 2015 at 12:58 pm

Ugh, it’s gonna be a long year LOL. I would say regarding the shorts, either upgrade yourself to a nicer pair or buy her a cheap pair at Target (or Goddwill for that matter) and reclaim yours.

With regard to the hairbrush, I would just take it back and let her know that if she’s in need of one again, they have them at Target for cheap.

I’ve never had a Chinese AP, but if this is the norm, in the future you might make them a required packing list so that they at least have the essentials (who doesn’t pack a hairbrush for a year long trip!) Seems that they Chinese should be able to bring the same amount/stuff as the Brazilians or Germans…

NoVA Twin Mom January 26, 2015 at 1:06 pm

First let me validate how annoyed you are. One of the first things I tell our new au pairs to pack is a swimsuit. After one of our previous au pairs seemed to have one but wouldn’t wear it in front of me, I amended the suggestion to add that it has to be a swimsuit they’ll be comfortable wearing in front of the hostkids’ GRANDMA.

Next, I’d (grudgingly) write off the hairbrush. Buy one just like it if necessary. Maybe label the new one.

I’m not as familiar with the “borrowing to keep” cultural thing that you refer to, but if this is becoming a habit I guess you can’t lend her anything without considering it to be a gift (I’m thinking it only becomes a gift if she likes it – if she doesn’t like it she returns it? Ugh.) I also find myself wondering if she kept the iPad you let her use? If not, how is that not something she wanted to keep but the other items were? Is there some kind of argument you can use there – I’m letting you use _____ like I let you use the iPad, but I need it back? Of course, you’ve probably already tried that.

I’m really wondering if there’s something more here. Is the problem not the swimsuit itself but that she doesn’t want to go to swim lessons and the rest is just convenient excuses?

If that’s the case letting your mom buy her one in Hong Kong will take too long – it will just let her prolong her objection because she’s waiting for that swimsuit. I’d let her keep the shorts and buy new ones for yourself so that she no longer has any excuse not to swim. Has she actually gone to a lesson yet or is the first lesson today? Maybe once she’s gone once or twice it won’t seem as awful as she thought it would be?

Should be working January 26, 2015 at 1:17 pm

LOL Nova, I also include a packing list and specify that she needs a modest swimsuit that she be active in, including jumping, diving and getting pulled on, and I recommend she bring or expect to quickly buy a more modest swimsuit than most of the bikinis out there. I have had more questions about swimsuits than anything on my packing list. They seem to have only bikinis, not even tankinis, but bikinis.

TexasHM January 26, 2015 at 1:28 pm

We go a step further and flat out tell them that they need a one piece. We have little kids still learning to swim, have a pool in the backyard, americans are more conservative and we often do water parks. We tell them all this prior to matching (wear what you want with your friends but you need more conservative with us and minimum at least one one piece) so its never been an issue. If they don’t have one there, they have them here at Costco you can get a speedo one for $19.
Honestly I think I would flat out tell the AP she has X number of days to get a swimsuit. You told her upfront before she came, its a very reasonable request and she didn’t = not your problem. I would tell your LC you are going to ask her to have one by X day and she is expected to return your shorts. I have no issue loaning things but this would drive me crazy. I can’t tell if its cultural or if she just doesn’t want to spend her money – any insight there OCH?

TexasHM January 26, 2015 at 1:34 pm

And SERIOUSLY it doesn’t matter how much you love the shorts or how often you use the hairbrush. You don’t have to justify wanting to keep your own things that you paid for! She has to justify borrowing them (and she isn’t) and has to work to get those items back to you asap (and she isn’t). It’s also telling that she doesn’t want to trouble someone in China to send her a swimsuit but she has no problem troubling you with all this nonsense and your mom – why on earth would your mom buy AP a swimsuit?! If she didn’t want swim classes or to buy a swimsuit she should have said that in matching. Good luck OCH this would be maddening to me!

Returning HM January 26, 2015 at 4:45 pm

Oh my. This discussion alone is giving me heart palpatations now that my daughter (who will be 13 when the next AP comes) has decided she cannot have another male AP. I soooooo do not want to have to discuss and define modest swim wear. I don’t. What else do I need to discuss that I haven’t had to address in the years we have been hosting males????

Taking a Computer Lunch January 26, 2015 at 8:15 pm

I’m serious – come with a suit that you will feel comfortable wearing in front of your HD and can wear while diving off a diving board. Bring the thin strapless number for looking glamorous while hanging out with friends.

TexasHM January 26, 2015 at 10:40 pm

Exactly!

Seattle Mom January 28, 2015 at 9:41 pm

Wow.. there are some benefits to living somewhere too cold to swim more than a couple of weeks out of the year!

(My kids take swimming lessons, but the au pair doesn’t have to go in the pool with them.)

NoVA Twin Mom January 26, 2015 at 1:10 pm

I just saw HRHM’s packing list suggestion – excellent idea. So, I have to ask – maybe I’m just in a bad mood today or something – what WAS in her suitcase if there wasn’t a hairbrush or a bathing suit in there? Is there some sort of different luggage restriction coming from China that doesn’t exist anywhere else?

And no more lending things to her – though I know you said you thought you’d handled that part. Maybe make a list of things she “borrows” this year to add to HRHM’s suggested “required packing list” for your next au pair?

NoVA Twin Mom January 26, 2015 at 1:43 pm

Wait – this isn’t one of those things where people from certain cultures don’t want to say no, so to seem polite they say yes, but it’s just never going to happen, is it? So she didn’t want to tell you she wouldn’t take swim lessons, so she agreed to with absolutely no intention of ever getting in a pool? I’m thinking China might be one of those cultures, but I could be wrong.

Because if so you need to remove ALL impediments to the swim lessons, even if it means (as I suggested above) sacrificing your shorts to get her into class. Otherwise she’s going to just keep coming up with new reasons not to go to class. She’ll try anyway but I think you need to make the class as “barrier free” as humanly possible for at least the first few weeks. If she can come up with some REAL reasons not to take the class after that, then discuss.

HRHM January 26, 2015 at 1:55 pm

Yes, China is one of those cultures. “say yes to be polite, even when you absolutely mean no” I couldn’t make it through an interview with that, let alone multiple years of living with it, Ap after AP!

Should be working January 26, 2015 at 2:05 pm

I guess this is where all that “cultural exchange” takes place and “getting to know the American way of life”. If you say you’ll do it, you do it. Welcome to the USA.

Old China Hand January 26, 2015 at 2:41 pm

Thanks for all the advice. Yes, China is a culture where you avoid saying no. I interviewed carefully for honesty and tidiness because of issues with AP1. To answer some of the questions/comments above all at once:

1) My mom is involved because my mom likes being a mom. It avoids me playing second mom/bestie to the APs because my mom happily fills that role. Both adore her. AP2 has been here just over a week and my mom was only here her first few days and she says to my mom on Facetime “I miss you”. My mom has lots of young people in Hong Kong that she plays the same role with. She helped plan a young woman’s wedding for heaven’s sake. It’s just how she is. I am a pretty crummy host parent in comparison.

2) Chinese people have this weird thing where they travel with no toiletries and expect that they will be provided wherever they are. It’s why they travel with no luggage (like, a handbag for a weekend trip). I knew about this and planned in advance. I talked with AP1 about what we should provide and got: slipper, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, face lotion, body lotion, chapstick, tampons, and pads. I got her face cleaner when she asked (brightening kind since we obviously don’t sell whitening products here). AP1 and I bought didn’t think of hairbrush. Like I said, I haven’t used one in years, I’m just annoyed about it. If it had been before the kids went to bed I would have given her the one my son plays with. Ugh.

3) She had the first swim lesson as planned and when she was the only person in the adult beginner group class and the instructor was female, she seemed happy about it. Tonight is class 2, so we’ll see if I get the same pushback. DH is taking her and she is a bit nervous around him because she doesn’t understand him so well. I don’t think she understands my English either but at least I don’t have to use English with her (and try not to – free Chinese practice for me).

4) I like the suggestion of just getting myself a new pair of shorts since I don’t like those anyway. The chlorine in the pool can’t be good for them either.

5) I will have to come up with a packing list for future APs. I can’t believe no swimsuit. Her luggage limit was 1x50lb bag, which I think is standard now. She had about 10 lbs of stuff for other Chinese APs already here. Included in that stuff instead of toiletries for herself were: q-tips, pads, and whitening face cleaner. The cross-stitch kits I understand a bit better because they are small, light, and may be hard to follow in English if bought here.

6) I’m trying to focus on how excited I am to be back at work and to have childcare again rather than getting annoyed about everything. I’m a better employer now than I was 2 years ago when AP1 arrived and definitely have done a better job going through the handbook once to train her (took about a week, slowly). I need to go through it again but I wanted to give her a few days or a week to digest everything before we go through it again. I’ve addressed major issues as they come up, but am trying to give her time to adjust so the house doesn’t devolve into chaos. I’m on research leave this year, so I don’t have any classes to worry about and can work from home. As a bonus, that means I don’t have to pump so much and can directly nurse the baby.

7) I have been trying to specify when things are hers to keep vs AP things. So I told her that I bought some mittens for APs to use because its cold here and pushing strollers or riding a bike (no driving for our APs) is dangerous in this weather without them. Chinese people don’t really wear mittens or hats. It’s cultural, I guess. I lived in Harbin (way in the northeast) where it got to -20 for months on end and no one wore hats or mittens except for fashion or if they worked outside (like military).

Her phone is an android but uses a different play store, so it can’t run the baby monitor. Clearly I need her to be able to use the baby monitor, so we bought a very cheap android tablet to run it and told her that it is for APs and babysitters to run the monitor, not for her to keep.

My mom (wanting to mother someone again) has decided to give us an old laptop for her to use since she didn’t bring a laptop. DH wanted to buy a cheap one. I vetoed that. She can use computers at the college (like in my lab and hang out with my students) or at the public library. But my mom mentioned the dumb computer so I guess we’re coming home with it next time we go to their US house. I just need to make sure she knows she can’t install any software on it because QQ (Chinese facebook/AIM/twitter thing) has lots of government spyware on it.

8) Yes, I am super annoyed about the inconveniencing me and not family in China thing. Or refusal to spend money. AP1 had this problem too. They have no expenses and still won’t spend money.

At least I understand the culture. I wouldn’t know what to do with a liberal 18 year old European.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 26, 2015 at 3:32 pm

Wow, I knew that the one AP we hosted from China didn’t come with much,but it never occurred to me that she brought nothing – and never asked for anything! She, too, had a million excuses not to take swimming lessons, but we forced her to take them at the local college because a) we have a small above-ground pool and b) we expected her to be in the pool with The Camel every day in the summer. When she told me she didn’t need to know how to swim, I asked her what she would do if The Camel feel to the bottom of the pool. She took the class, but failed, because she didn’t like to put her face in the water. I think it surprised her how hard it was to learn to swim.

Oh, and she bought her own laptop, because the computer we owned at the time was so old it didn’t support any of the equipment she brought with her. She did kind of mewl that we should buy a new computer, but that was after she scraped the car on the first day driving and we had to pay for lessons and deal with insurance. I told her too bad, it wasn’t in our budget, since she had told us she could drive.

If she does use your mother’s old computer, then I recommend locking it down so she can’t install software on it.

Old China Hand January 26, 2015 at 4:11 pm

That’s a good idea.

WarmStateMomma January 26, 2015 at 4:06 pm

My APs each arrived with one medium-sized suitcase and a carry-on. They didn’t ask to borrow much. They both preferred to buy everything here although neither indulged in a hair cut all year.

If your AP is the woman we discussed – she promised me that nothing would impact her willingness to swim (I specifically asked her about periods and fear of getting tan).

Old China Hand January 26, 2015 at 4:12 pm

I wonder if the fact that I provided so many toiletries up front (to be nice and helpful) made her feel more ok asking for more things… Oh well. I don’t mind providing toiletries because it sends the signal that I want her to shower and be clean. Our last AP went running each morning and arrived home 2 min before work and smelled horrible, so I specified that one must smell appropriate for work.

Should be working January 26, 2015 at 4:27 pm

“One must smell appropriate for work.” Love that! I guess that she might not know that she smelled “inappropriate for work” though? I know we’ve talked on here some time back about APs not bathing or using deodorant. We once had an AP with terrible-smelling breath, I wasn’t sure whether I should say something in case she had a dental problem or an abscess or something.

Old China Hand January 26, 2015 at 4:31 pm

I think I actually wrote in the handbook that if she exercised before work, she must shower before work. I also mandated eating breakfast before work if she wanted it. It didn’t matter when AP1 arrived because my son napped at 9 am, so she could eat then (and shower then) but when he dropped his morning nap, these issues cropped up and it seemed too late to do anything about them. This site has definitely made me a better employer.

WarmStateMomma January 26, 2015 at 4:40 pm

Our next AP runs marathons….

Old China Hand January 26, 2015 at 5:10 pm

That’s awesome! Our last one did a half marathon with me and I thought she would die, but she won her age group and broke 2 hrs.

WarmStateMomma January 26, 2015 at 6:02 pm

I’ve been meaning to start working out again, but not in front of a marathon runner! (My credit card issued a fraud alert when I last joined a gym.)

TexasHM January 26, 2015 at 6:02 pm

This is all cracking me up we have had the opposite problem – bathing excessively. Particularly with recent burnout AP who showered at least twice a day (never worked out or anything) and then complained all the time that her hair was dried out and mine was so shiny! ;) Which is worse – smelly AP or sky high water bills?

SKNY January 27, 2015 at 10:54 am

Texas HM was the au pair a south american? I notice that they do tend to take 2-3 baths a day

TexasHM January 27, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Nope Polish. She put our brazilians that bathed once a day to shame! ;)

Old China Hand January 27, 2015 at 2:06 pm

I solved the swimsuit problem with a two part solution:

1) I was making an order on road runner sports and found a skort for her. It is $32 and I told her that I was going to order it for her and take the money off her next stipend. She asked about a top and I told her she could use the ones I gave her or buy a new one, but I didn’t really care which she chose. I told her I care about the skort because I want my shorts back.

2) my mom offered to have aps family send a swimsuit to Hong Kong to be included in a package my mom will either mail us or have my dad carry to the states on his next business trip. It is stuff she was going to send us anyway and the swimsuit adds little weight to it. It is a real measure of how far my dad has come that he is willing to carry anything extra on overseas trips these days. When we were little that was a total no go.

Thanks for all the support and advice

5kids=aupair January 26, 2015 at 1:14 pm

I could not live with that AP. Period.

old au pair mom January 26, 2015 at 8:03 pm

I give my APs money for a home or country club swimsuit and tell them to save their $ for a fun, out with friends, suit. I request a one piece or takini bc I want them to be comfortable and play in the pool with my little one. Marshalls or TjMaxx has full coverage suits that are very reasonably priced. Our wonderful European AP was made to feel uncomfortable by an ogling type at a hotel pool, so we started providing this.
I am interested in how you react to shoewear! We always make it clear in our first emails that if an AP comes without shorts and sneakers, she will not be staying. We are very active and need someone who is able to jump and hop, and run around a big house. We did interview a transition AP looking to change within the cluster and she came in heels and jeans! and minced her way around the house. She was too fancy for us. We do keep an AP pile of sweatshirts and tshirts, that is available, on loan, for their time so that the APs good clothes don’t get dirty.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 26, 2015 at 8:13 pm

I warn my APs to bring old clothes that they don’t mind getting dirty, and some nice clothes to hang out with friends. I try to send a signal that if you’re dressed for the club then you’re not ready to do your job. Fortunately, most of my APs have held a job with children, so none have shown up for work in heels.

Old China Hand January 26, 2015 at 10:52 pm

Our first ap came without sneakers but had old clothes. This one seems to have two pairs of boots but is happy doing everything in them. She apparently played tennis and badmiten in a dress, jeans, and boots after church on Sunday. Very Chinese, really. We don’t wear shoes inside, so it hasn’t been an issue around the house. I bought ap1 flip flops for her birthday and may do something similar with cheap all purpose sneakers for ap2. I told her to bring casual stuff to wear for work and she has been dressed appropriately for work so far.

NewbieAuPair January 27, 2015 at 5:51 am

New topic:

I’ve just started working (a week ago) for a new family as an au pair. The problem is, that the previous au pair is still living in the house, in my room. She was supposed to move out a couple of days after I arrived, using the few overlapping days to show me how things work. The day I arrived she told me it would be a few days later, now it looks like it will be almost another week.

She is very nice and great with the kids, but this is posing two main problems for me:
1. The kids are very confused about who is their au pair, it is sending them mixed messages.
2. I need my own space when I am off duty. We are sharing a room and I still haven’t been able to unpack my suitcase!

How can I explain that I am unhappy with the current situation to my new host mom, without upsetting anyone?

NoVA Twin Mom January 27, 2015 at 6:45 am

You may want to ask your LCC to be “the bad guy” here. This would be unacceptable to me. The general consensus here is that if there is overlap, the NEW au pair gets the room for the reasons you list.

Ask your LCC if the can “check in” with your host family again (since if you’re in the US she should have already done so once) and ask who is sleeping where. This should cause the LCC to find out about the problem officially but will also create a record of the problem just in case you have issues in the future with your host family being inconsiderate, which is what this is. Not to mention that according to US rules you’re supposed to have your own room-and you don’t.

AlwaysHopeful HM January 27, 2015 at 8:40 am

I agree with NOVA Twin Mom. This is a pretty delicate situation, because there is such a potential for hurt feelings all around. My guess is that the HF is struggling to figure out how to welcome you, but at the same time not make old AP feel like yesrerday’s news. While they are happy and e xcited you are there, they are also mourning the imminent departure of former AP. So,, they may not be thinking clearly, and may need an LCC’s nudge. They may welcome the “interference” of the. LCC, even if they are a little embarrassed by it. If the LCC can bring it up on her own, without mentioning that you raised it, it helps everyone save face and helps you start the year on a good note.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 27, 2015 at 9:13 am

The incoming AP should have the private bedroom, the outgoing AP should be sleeping in a guest room, on an inflatable mattress in the playroom, or somewhere else in the house.

I make it clear to the outgoing APs that they are welcome to sleep on the futon in the “man cave” (our basement playroom), but they may not have guests there overnight because the incoming AP has to pass by to get upstairs and work. I expect my AP to be out of the room the morning after her last shift, so I can do some deep cleaning (vacuuming the carpets with the edging tool, washing down the walls, damp wiping out the desk and dresser drawer, deep cleaning the bathroom, and replacing everything that is worn out and broken). All but one of my APs hightailed it out of there on the first flight the next morning to start their travel months. One AP left an hour after her shift ended.

I cannot imagine putting an incoming AP in the situation of sharing a room with the outgoing AP (which means the room isn’t gong to be very clean, and the outgoing AP hasn’t really packed). This isn’t just a red flag, it’s full sirens. And I agree, it’s delicate. In my opinion, the first thing to do is to ask the HF, quietly and privately, about having some down space and expressing the desire to sleep in a room alone. If that doesn’t change the situation, then contact the LCC and complain. Finally, complain to the home office.

old au pair mom January 27, 2015 at 2:25 pm

Dear Girl, I am not trying to minimize your problem, but there is not much you can do until the house family makes her leave. Try and give yourself a new way of looking at the situation. Here is a new friend for you. Let her take you out at night, let her introduce you to her friends, let her show you all her favorite spots for coffee, etc. She will be gone so soon! Yes, you did not expect this, but part of being an AP is being able to adapt.

I think your real fear is that she will be with you for her 13th month! Also, why is she not traveling and is she still taking care of the kids? Could she go somewhere else during your work day or could you get the car to go out by yourself for some private time? You should ask your LCC the date of your roomie’s departure. Once you know exactly, you will feel more in control.

Now, she should have all her things packed up and she should be living from her suitcase. There is no reason this was not done before your arrival, but it is something you can request without looking difficult. Ask for that to happen, today!

Sharing a bedroom (you do have your own bed!?) to me, is just one of those things, not every family has extra room. I know it is not fair, but if you can get through this time (and you like this family in all other ways) you will have put the worst behind you. No matter what new job you start, it will always be a stressful time. Years from now, this will be your fun AP horror story.

TexasHM January 27, 2015 at 3:01 pm

NewbieAuPair – you have gotten good advice. Can I ask if this is your host family’s first transition? Meaning was she their first AP? If so, it may just be a case of not knowing this would be an issue or how to plan for it. We have a clear transition process – new AP gets the room and departing AP has to be out by X date (we mutually decide with departing AP but has to be at least a day gap in between so I can clean/assess etc). If your host family is less experienced they might not realize this is an issue for you and might think you are great with it unless you gently mention it. I would be honest with them and say that you really like departing AP and she is great and kids are great and you like their family but you are struggling to adjust/settle in because you are living out of a suitcase and I would ask them how you can help the kids understand who is on duty and in charge because you don’t want to confuse them. Make it about your concern for the kids and your ability to function at 100% and it’s not a selfish request. Good luck!

WarmStateMomma January 27, 2015 at 7:13 am

For those of you who have a packing list, what is on your list? AP3 arrives in March and has asked what to pack.

SwissAupair January 27, 2015 at 7:44 am

AP should pack like AP would go on a 2-week trip that includes sports, swimming, hiking and nights at a nice restaurant/club, in xy time of the year (most likely not wintertime for WarmStateMomma) ! That really helped me to find out how many jeans, shirts and underwear i will need.

You should tell how often AP can wash the clothes, so AP knows if s/he has to bring two sets of “gym-clothing” or 4 sets. Tell her if you go skiing in the winter, that she can bring anything she needs. Also tell her that the kids really make a mess sometimes (if true), and she should not bring the nicest but comfortable clothes to be with them (“stayat home kids”). Also tell AP that s/he (don’t) have to bring towels, bed sheets, hairdryer, shampoo,… If you do special sports and want her to join, please tell her/him. Has she a favourite sport that she can absolutely practice in your city? Tell her/him, s/he might not think about bringing all of her equipment.

Also tell her to take care of her passport and all the other paper she needs to be an aupair. It is also good to already bring some cash (dollars), because it always can happen the the credit card or similar doesn’t work the first time and she will be happy to have some cash when stuck at the Airport for some reason.

You may ask AP to bring a book for the children from their country! It is always fun to translate together! Also tell her, if she can bring some decoration for her room.

I know that this sounds very basic to some HP, but that is all the information that would have helped me so much when I was an Aupair the first time. Most Aupairs are very nervous, so that they might forget the most basic things.

Multitasking Host Mom January 27, 2015 at 7:53 am

I use a list I got from this blog a few years ago…I think it was in handbook that someone had submitted. Have to find it in my files, but it not only says what to bring (working with kids appropriate clothing, modest bathing suit, one nice/dressy outfit that would be appropriate for Christmas mass since most ap want to join us for this, etc.), I also include what not to bring ( mainly heavy/big things like pillows, blankets, towels, etc.) I also discuss winter clothes since boots and heavy coats can be expensive but also can take up a lot of space. I let them make the decision to bring from home or buy here. I also encourage them to think about electronics and either not bring them (we provide a hairdryer for example) or find adapters (like if they want to bring a computer from home, etc.) I will try to find my actual list later but that is what I can remember right now.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 27, 2015 at 9:18 am

As to bringing a computer and other electronics from home – many stores will sell (one even gave one to an AP) cords for American outlets. This is much safer for the equipment than running it through an adapter!

Multitasking Host Mom January 27, 2015 at 9:21 pm

I found this post that was on the blog a few years ago. It looks like I must have got many of the ideas for my list-of-what-AP-should-pack from this thread…It might be helpful for you WSM.

http://aupairmom.com/help-your-new-au-pair-pack-5-things-to-bring-5-things-to-leave-behind/2010/07/09/celiaharquail/

Seattle Mom January 28, 2015 at 9:24 pm

NEW QUESTION!!

Alright, I confess, I’m the one with the au pair whose arrival was delayed in my home because of a lost passport & visa. Now I have a related follow-up question, and it’s kind of time-sensitive.

We booked our au pair’s travel from training in NYC to our home in Seattle, because our agency allows us to do this rather then pay them a fee for them to book the flight. This saved us a lot of money, because of course the fare we got (approx $160) was a lot cheaper than the fee charged by our previous agency ($500) for transportation. However, we got a non-refundable flight (of course!) and the change fee is greater than the cost of the ticket, so we’re completely out $160- I just booked the new flight today (she’s coming to our home in about 10 days, yay!).

My husband wants to ask the au pair to share the cost of the missed flight. I agreed initially, but every time I start to write an email to the au pair I can’t do it. I don’t feel good about it. She feels bad about costing us money and aggravation, I don’t think we need to do this to make her feel worse. It’s not like the $80 is going to make or break us, and it’s a lot more money to her. Also, I kind of feel like if she gives us this money that absolves her of any further responsibility- it’s like giving her an easy way to pay her way out of feeling any further remorse. And it just feels icky to me- I want to start out on a good foot with a new au pair, not nickel and dime her over extra expenses.

I am also something of a rule follower, and I know that we are responsible for our au pair’s transportation from NYC per our agency’s rules (and maybe State department too, I’m not sure). My husband is not a rule-follower, so this would not sway him (in fact it would do the opposite), but it does show partly why it feels icky to me.

I haven’t expressed any of this to my husband yet so I don’t know how he will respond. But he is a much better debater and more articulate than me, plus he tends to be sort of hard about certain things… so I want to have all my arguments planned out before I talk to him about it.

What do you all think? Do you think I am right, or do you think it’s reasonable and productive to ask the au pair to contribute?

exaupair January 28, 2015 at 9:41 pm

I think you should cover the full cost instead of making the AP cheap in.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that because I used to be an AP, but because it might start the whole year with a bit of resentment on the APs side.

In a situation like that I’d feel rubbed the very wrong way. I’d start wondering why did you wait for me to have my paperwork sorted instead of just matching with someone else (who would be 100% available exactly when you need them), and now you expect me to pay half for the flight. $80 is not a fortune and once you’ve made the decision to stick to that AP it’s your responsibility to fly her from orientation to your house.

I don’t know you, nor your AP, but if I was in her shoes…to be really blunt I’d start thinking you’re just…cheap, which would probably have some impact on my performance and attitude.

Seattle Mom January 29, 2015 at 1:17 am

I think you nailed it… my husband is cheap, and it’s up to me to protect our family from his poor decisions based on cheapness sometimes! It’s not his fault, and in some ways it is great for us.

TexasHM January 28, 2015 at 9:59 pm

SeattleMom – so glad you got everything ironed out. Honestly I wouldn’t ask the AP to split it (as much as I might think about it and follow the reasoning) because 1 – you did have the option to select another candidate or walk away, 2 – the agencies are clear that you should buy refundable tickets – it actually says it somewhere in the documentation because we were with your same agency until last month and you definitely don’t want to start the year by breaking an agency policy you know? I get the frustration and I might think about sharing the information with the AP (not to beat her brains in but just to let her know that you did lose the ticket and you are now going to have to buy a new one – there is a cost associated.) Like you said, she feels terrible but she needs to know the impact even if she doesn’t pay for it and in an ideal world she will appreciate everything you all have done to make this work and you will get a hardworking, great attitude AP year! Best to you both!

Seattle Mom January 29, 2015 at 1:19 am

I also didn’t think of it in terms of it being our decision to wait, and now we have to act in full good faith on our decision. It’s a sunk cost…. we would have lost the ticket even if we rematched… as my 4 year old daughter would belt out, Let It Go! Now to convince my husband. Maybe it won’t be so hard.

Seattle Mom January 29, 2015 at 1:26 am

TBH if we bought a refundable ticket we wouldn’t have saved that much money in this situation… we’re still paying under $400 total.. if she had made the first flight then we would have won. So it’s a gamble, and we lost, we need to face the consequences of losing on a gamble that we chose to take.

I had that in the back of my mind, and needed to get it out here to articulate it. I knew you all would help me :)

TexasHM January 29, 2015 at 8:54 am

To be fair I always bought non refundables too so no judgment there! Although the last couple times I used miles because then if I cancelled I could get the miles back. :)

Should be working January 29, 2015 at 1:22 am

I’m agreeing that you pay the ticket and say nothing. The agency says you pay transportation, you pay it. Rules are rules–and that’s a good enough justification for insisting to your husband. I am a pretty tough rule-follower, and the nice thing is that once someone proposes something I don’t like and it’s against the rules–I don’t have to justify not liking it, because it’s AGAINST THE RULES.

Seattle Mom January 29, 2015 at 1:45 am

Update!

I told my husband that I decided we shouldn’t ask her for money, he asked me why, I told him some of the reasons, and he agreed. Easy! What really convinced him was when I told him we were supposed to buy a refundable ticket. He said he didn’t know that. Although I know I told him (as he was buying the ticket) and he conveniently forgot.

But anyway, I’m glad we didn’t have to argue about it. It helped that I had all my thoughts organized and I felt backed up here :)

NoVA Twin Mom January 29, 2015 at 11:19 am

Seattle mom – WHERE did you find those tickets? Flying to the west coast sounds downright reasonable at those rates!

Seattle Mom January 29, 2015 at 12:08 pm

They are one-way tickets, double the price for round trip. Kayak.com

Seattle Mom January 29, 2015 at 12:08 pm

And this is the cheapest time of year to fly to Seattle.

TexasHM January 28, 2015 at 10:01 pm

Woohoo! Free online DiSC test! Does not have the 15 page full profile (but you can buy it here) but the free profile was enough to give me some great insight on the test and take it myself (baby steps….). :) Below if interested!

https://www.123test.com/disc-personality-test/

TexasHM January 28, 2015 at 10:27 pm

SBW (aka DiSC guru) what does high DC mean? At least I think she is high DC – she has 5 bullets under each of those and then 4 bullets under I and 3 under S. Reading her profile summary she sounds on paper like our recent rockstar (more outgoing though) but we were with a non-DiSC agency before so I can’t compare. Any thoughts? (SBW or anyone else of course that could offer insight!)

Should be working January 29, 2015 at 2:57 am

Are you saying that the CCAP truncated profile that describes her corresponds to what the free online test says are high D and C? You have to look at and compare the phrases more than the bullets. “Aim high” is a typical D phrase. “Accurate” is a typical high C thing.

High D and C is an interesting profile and very unusual for an au pair. It means rather contradictory tendencies–desire for authority and control, but a stickler for procedure and structure. This is not a profile I myself would ever choose for an au pair. I look for phrases referring to patience (high S) and sociability (high I), and the high DC profiles is low on I and S. Our high D (and high I) au pair was a great and inspiring leader, motivated kids and all of us to do all kinds of things (including an RV trip to the Grand Canyon that she talked us into). She was also pushy, stubborn and sometimes defiant.

TexasHM January 29, 2015 at 8:52 am

That doesn’t sound like her so I still must not be getting it. On CCAPs system the reports don’t say the percentages, just bullets under each category so I can’t tell what categories she is high in or low in. I need to read the bullets and then figure out if they map to high or low in that category. Or post it here and have the expert translate for me. ;)

Anna January 29, 2015 at 10:18 am

I recently took DiSC assessment for work and now I understand a bit more about this personality test mumbo jumbo, and I think I figured out what kind of profiles I need to look for. I don’t use CC anymore that gives you DiSC profiles, but the agency I now use (GoAuPair) gives Hartman color codes for personality, and they correspond to DiSC (red=D, blue=S, I=yellow, C=white).

D is dominant, S is precise, accurate, kind of an engineer/analyst type. S is good in an au pair in terms of following your directions, paying careful attention and learning how to do things right. D is good for initiative.

Personally, I figured out that my best match is an au pair with S dominant (or in the other agency “blue” dominant) and D secondary (or “red” secondary). Right now I have a new au pair precisely with this type (SD, or blue with secondary red). So far she is perfect.

Most au pair profiles I have seen are dominant “S” (or “blue”). Secondary C (“white”) is OK for me but not the best because those people come across to me as weak and too soft, and there is a risk that kids can walk all over them, and I find it hard to respect them. Secondary “I” (yellow) are fun-loving and as the reverse side of that are often too airheaded and too much concentrate on partying instead of work.

I wouldn’t take someone who is dominant “D” (even though myself I am Di, D with secondary I). I think that would create too much of a rematch risk for me, because if we have a disagreement or butt heads about something, D will be more likely to decisively ask for a rematch instead of trying to work things out. I also like when au pairs respect me and my ways of life and raising kids; D is more likely to be defiant and that would create tension with me, another D. Also some of my kids need loving care; they do get maybe too much D (authoritative) care from me, and many au pairs with more nuanced styles best me in making my kids do what they need to do. Looking back, I think I had one au pair who was a primary D (she was from another agency so I don’t know her type, but I derive from her personality), and she did ask for a rematch. She had a health issue that she refused to do anything about and that made her job progressively harder. I pushed her to take care of it, even offered to pay, but she was strongheaded. She also butted heads with my hubby; she disliked him and showed it in her conduct.

Anna January 29, 2015 at 10:20 am

I also think you made a mistake, high D and high C is almost impossible, I think it is high D and S? You said S in your first sentence…. I based my reply assuming it was D and S

In Rematch Hell - AGAIN January 29, 2015 at 12:06 pm

I’m a high D. And the reason we knew it was true is because I argued with the person who did my assessment. Ha! (I was in a professional development program where we took the DiSC test and then met with mentors to help us understand our results.)

I definitely want Au Pairs who can take initiative and have strong executive function / decision making skills. I want to establish parameters and best practices, and then let them interpret each situation as it comes.

My AP leaving shortly (Fri!) has ZERO executive decision making skills and I wish I had made her take some kind of assessment before matching with her. Lesson learned.

We’re APIA and they offer nothing in the way of persona profiles.

Multitasking Host Mom January 29, 2015 at 12:30 pm

I am a firm believer in personality test now that I have seen over and over again how scarily accurate they are with all of our APs. And it has helped me understand why they react a certain way in situations. Like Anna we have used go au pair and when selecting au pairs to interview my second set of criteria (after work/education experience) is the color personality that is assigned to them. We do well with first color blue and second color yellow.

TexasHM January 29, 2015 at 12:51 pm

I am becoming a believer for sure. After looking at these in more detail I have to believe that a personality profile would have helped us prevent our recent burnout (or me following my process that would have helped too ;). We were at APIA for years and as said, they don’t have them and then tried Interexchange but they don’t either so now I have them with CCAP I really interested to see if it could be a good screening tool because I honestly think it could save me A LOT of time reading profiles. I only wish that CCAP would interview the families and give DiSC match suggestions (I know, I want to be spoiled!) or even allow you to use it as a part of your criteria – meaning search and rank profiles according to highest match percentage on my factors plus DiSC – that would be incredible!

Should be working January 29, 2015 at 1:09 pm

I agree that CCAP should let you select DiSC profiles on their search function, or at least to exclude some.

But I can see that they don’t want to try to suggest which profile you want. It’s really hard to know. After 2 high-drama-but-passionate APs I consciously searched only for a high SC profile, the “specialist”, they are calm, responsible, go-with-the-flow types. And yes that is what they are, we’ve had two of them, and everything is fine, but they are not very inspired either. And one was work-to-rule (i.e. she fulfilled responsibilities to the letter but not beyond). So now I’m looking for a little more passion, but with the patience and loyalty elements.

Also of course there are cultural or personal differences. We had an AP who was low C (i.e. low adherence to rules and structures) but she was a total clean freak–which we loved and yet I would not have expected based on the profile. And our higher-C type weirdly leaves things around and is not that much of a cleaner-upper. So it doesn’t translate into specific task performance at all.

Seattle Mom January 29, 2015 at 1:36 pm

I now disregard the personality tests, after our first & second au pairs had the exact same profile. AP #1 was a very solid person, a rock star. AP#2 had serious issues, and we could not live with her and rematched. When I looked back at her application and the emails we exchanged I really couldn’t see any red flags- I think she may have misrepresented herself, plus there was a maturity issue but she came across as very mature. I may not have asked the right questions. In any case, the DISC was irrelevant to our situation, so now I don’t really think about it.

TexasHM January 29, 2015 at 1:45 pm

Interesting! So they had the exact same DiSC and were that different?! Were they from the same country? Again I am pondering cultural influence. I just can’t help but think it’s one thing if someone gets easily impatient but they may live in a culture where it’s not polite to show it, and another impatient au pair may live in a culture that is very frank and would always mention it and that would lead to a drastically different year. I would have to think that maturity plays into the equation as well because I think I have had pretty much the same personality for the majority of my life but I know now that I know my weaknesses and I accommodate for them better which would also Impact living with me then vs now.

Anna January 29, 2015 at 10:23 am

Never mind. Somebody help me edit my replies, I myself confused S and C. Substitute C for S in all my replies and then they will be right.
So in summary, for my family I look for primary C (blue) and secondary D (red)

And GoAuPair’s Hartman color system corresponds to DiSC like that:
D=red
I=yellow
S=white
C=blue

TexasHM January 29, 2015 at 10:40 am

LOL Ok Disc experts this was her report! What letters does this mean?
? are goal orientated and motivated to achieve those goals through
co-operation with others.
? are resourceful, aim high and want authority.
? are self-sufficient and individualistic.
? enjoy competition and challenge.
? tend to be direct and positive with people.
? like to sweep people along with your enthusiasm and optimism.
? enjoy persuading people to do something rather than simply telling them or
asking them to do it.
? like to assess people’s ‘personality style’ and relate to them as individuals.
? use your social skills in a pro-active way.
? enjoy stretching yourself intellectually and physically.
? get restless when involved in routine and repetitive work/activities.
? need change and variety in your work and non-work life.
? prefer to work in a less structured environment.
? are independent and take the initiative.
? prefer people to judge you by your results.
? are challenged by the untried.
? better at managing general tasks than minute details.
More about you and how to increase your effectiveness:
You like to stand out from the crowd. You have a strong inner motivation to influence
people and circumstances. You thrive on competitive situations and challenging
assignments.
The stresses and pressures of everyday work and life are unlikely to reduce your
effectiveness and enthusiasm.
Beware of causing bad feeling by trying too hard to convince others of your way. Look
for ways to satisfy the needs of others as well as yourself.
Most often you are likely to be perceived as likeable, persuasive and inspirational.
Your primary strengths:
Your ability to persuasively drive and inspire people towards goals and objectives.
Your responsiveness to change and ability to be inventive when faced with problems.
Your capacity to function without the support and encouragement of others.
To increase your effectiveness:
Remember some people may not be as dynamic as you.
Develop and use your patience.
Stand back and think a while.
Perhaps others may need a little extra help to attain their personal goals.

AlwaysHopeful HM January 29, 2015 at 11:37 am

Wow! I don’t know what the letters mean, but she sounds like a rock star to me!

TexasHM January 29, 2015 at 11:46 am

LOL me too! (Obviously we matched with her so this is me torturing myself!) Praying that DiSC experts can validate me here! ;)

Should be working January 29, 2015 at 11:58 am

Oops you already matched. I would in your case just be really clear about what kinds of language and behavior are acceptable to you, and emphasize her role as a leader/motivator and as a role model including how she treats others. This type is wonderfully passionate and I think the key is to insist that YOU are the authority and she is the “animator” of the kids.

Should be working January 29, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Let me amend that: She will want to be an authority, which is fine and your job is to help her harness that by making clear that she needs to motivate kids in positive ways.

Should be working January 29, 2015 at 11:56 am

This is an “inspirational” profile, highest D, high I, very low S and C. (The number of bullets has nothing to do with it, it’s WHAT they say in those phrases that matters.) You can look it up.

This is the profile that our motivating/energetic/leader AP had, and a lot of them have this. If you study the descriptions in more detail, you will see that this profile also can be defiant, tactless, and if persuasion doesn’t work will try more direct methods of influence (like insistence and threats).

We loved our “inspirational” AP, and she got our kids out doing great outings, had excellent initiative in doing projects and things with them, and she loved us passionately; but she was very stubborn and got into conflicts with our preteen daughter in which she said some unkind things (including “I would never want you for a daughter”).

I would consider this profile if I had good evidence that the person had learned how to be tactful and gentle.

TexasHM January 29, 2015 at 12:46 pm

Got it ok great. Now I am super interested in how much culture influences this too. Meaning she is from South Africa which in my personal experience, tends to be a VERY respectful/gracious culture (of authority, very gracious houseguest, etc). In interviewing I used open ended questions and scenarios to ferret out how she would react and didn’t see any sign of defiance. If anything I worried that maybe she would be so respectful of us that she would come to me for approval on everything but I am guessing from your description that I won’t have to worry about this as much. I also worried that perhaps her parents were influencing her match/arrival timeframes because they did ask to speak to us in interviewing (never had that before but in fairness these are the first English speaking AP parents we have encountered) and they did ask about an earlier arrival (weeks nothing major) and I asked the AP (gently) if they were calling the shots. She respectfully replied that while it is unusual perhaps for people in her age range to consult their parents she feels like they have a lot of life experience and advice (whether she takes it or not) that could be beneficial and they know her very well (strengths and weaknesses) so she didn’t see the harm in including them in the process to get their feedback as well on whether we would be a good fit and what (if anything) might be red flags for either side (they didn’t come up with any other than it being hard work in general – but she worked for a catering company in the summers doing 12-14 hour days and setups/serving/breakdowns/packup-heavy lifting so I think she will be fine). Interesting sidenote though – I took the DiSC and got the following percentages:
D – 43%, I – 33%, S – 19%, C – 5% so does that mean that I am an inspirational profile as well? And if so, is that good or bad to have the same profile as your AP? Ok now I am going to ask my previous APs take this so I can see where they were.

Should be working January 29, 2015 at 1:17 pm

Sometimes it is fine to have the same profile as the AP, there are websites out there (for free) that do describe how different combinations of profiles work together. As one poster above said, it is SO helpful to know why they react the way they do and what motivates and de-motivates and frightens them–it really is great because different people DO have different motivations and different fears.

My husband is high I (sociable) and low everything else. We had an au pair with the same profile as his. I discovered–once she was settled–that indeed the website’s prediction for combining two of this profile was accurate: “They will get along well, and spend SO much time talking that the danger is that no work will get done” (!!).

More than once DH woke up grumbling because he had stayed up into the wee hours talking with the au pair about nothing in particular!!

TexasHM January 29, 2015 at 1:37 pm

That’s so funny. Interesting! Ok I am going to cave and buy the full report and study this a little more. Could this finally be the magic answer? (Solid interview process + personality profile = great match every time?!). If you don’t mind me asking SBW, how is your track record? Have you always used the disc profile and if not, have you found having it has made your matches better?

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