Please Turn Down the TV — Reasonable or Rude?

by cv harquail on December 6, 2011

We host parents often find ourselves wishing that our au pairs could just *tell us* when something is bothering them. We can only address things we know about– and if something is wrong and you keep quiet about it, the problem keeps simmering.

This is true with bigger issues (too much texting) and smallish issues (leaving tissues on the counter).  Here’s a situation many of us are familiar with — someone’s watching TV, and someone else thinks that (at 12:30 at night) the TV might be a little too loud.201112060753.jpg

A Host Mom writes:

Last night, my husband was watching a movies downstairs in the family room. It was 12:30 at night.
My aupair went downstairs and asked him to turn the volume down and he did. But this morning he complained about it to me.

While he was upset at the request, he complied because in his words ‘ she drives my kids to school in the morning and I don’t want her to have an accident and claim that she did not get enough sleep.’

I was asleep at the time and the TV did not bother me. Our bedroom is right next to the 2 story family room. Her room is further away.

I think her request is unreasonable and disrespectful.

What do you think?

Dear Host Mom,

I have completely different perspective on the situation you describe.

I think your au pair should be congratulated for recognizing that she was being bothered by something, recognizing that this could be changed, and courageously going downstairs to talk with your spouse about turning down the volume.

I also think that your spouse should be congratulated. He recognized that the au pair needed her sleep, that she was struggling with getting to sleep, and that there was something that he could do that might make a difference. He also reflected on her situation and was compassionate.

Moreover, he responded in the moment, and waited to do problem-solving or to share negative feedback, until a later time.

Both of their actions sounded like a good attempt to resolve a problem. So, why characterize the Au Pair’s behavior (and hers alone) as “unreasonable” and “disrespectful”?

Let’s look at each piece of the criticism that her request was 1) unreasonable and 2) disrespectful.

Was her request unreasonable?

Considering that it was already past midnight, it makes sense that someone would expect the house to be reasonably quiet. Also, it makes sense that if she was trying to go to sleep, audible noise from the television would be bothersome. So, taking her perspective, it seems very reasonable to me that she would have asked him to turn down the volume.

From his perspective, was her request reasonable? He might think it was not, but then again, how sure is he that the volume of the TV wasn’t too loud?

Few people sitting in front of a television have any idea how well that television can be heard in the rest of the house. Very rarely do we turn on the TV to the volume we like, and then walk to a far bedroom to see if the sound travels. Most people aren’t thinking about it– they’re just thinking about whether the TV is loud enough for *them*.

Most people have no idea how loud their television might seem to other people.

You say that you weren’t awakened by the TV, and that your room is closer to the television room, but your experience is not a fair proxy for your au pair’s experience.

Not only are you two different people with two different sensitivities, the experience of the noise is not necessarily the same. Whether that sound is loud enough to wake the sleeping person is not the same as whether sound is too loud to permit a tired person get to sleep.

Second, the physical distance from one room to another doesn’t always predict how easy it is for sound to travel from one room to another. The distance from the television room to the bedroom is not directly proportional to how much the sound carries or not. A lot of sound transmission has to do with pathways (e.g, hallways, hollow walls, air vents) and their shapes.

Also, understand that a “loud” ( or , audible in another room) television at 10 o’clock at night feels very different from a loud television after midnight. After midnight, there are fewer noises outside and inside to muffle the sound of the television. And, after midnight, the person trying to get sleep is more and more anxious about whether they’ll ever get to sleep and whether they’ll be able to get enough sleep to be to function well the next day.

So, from the perspective of the television watcher, it’s not clear whether the request to turn down the volume was unreasonable or not. You need to do some research on. (More on that later)

Was her request disrespectful?

You didn’t mention any issues with the tone, language or phrasing of her request, so assuming that she asked kindly and without showing anger or annoyance, I’d bet that she did her best to be respectful.

Indeed, she might even have been nervous about making the request, and might have had to muster up some courage to go say something to her boss/host dad that was in any way critical of him.

From your husband’s perspective, though, the sheer fact of her asking him to change his behavior might have seemed disrespectful.

Some parents don’t like to be asked to change their behavior by someone subordinate to them. Some television watchers don’t like to be made aware that their entertainment is impinging on someone else’s experience — it makes them feel bad. I think if I were your spouse, I would’ve been annoyed at being asked to change my behavior because I was probably, finally, just having a chance to relax after a hard day.

Was her request disrespectful? I wouldn’t assume so.

Here are three things I suggest going forward.

1. Conduct the “Can you hear me now?” Test

First, determine empirically what the TV volume limit should be.

One quiet evening, you and your husband should test different volume levels on your television. One of you stays in the TV room while the other stands in the au pair’s room (and other rooms). Vary the volume to find what setting is high enough that it can be heard in the room and what volume setting is low enough that it can no longer be heard. Take note of this and use that as your guideline for watching the television.

Just for the sake of reference, in my house it’s “20” for reruns of The Matrix and The 300, and “22” for the Colbert Report.

2. Conduct the “Other Person’s Shoes” Test

If your au pair had been the one with the TV that was too loud for you, how would you have responded? Would you have asked her to turn the TV down?

Would you have been annoyed or kind? Would all of your actions have been respectful and reasonable?

3. What’s the real annoyance?

Talk with your spouse about just what it was that annoyed him, and led him and you to conclude her seemingly reasonable request was “unreasonable and disrespectful”. What manner of request would have seemed more respectful? How could she have phrased things differently to seem more respectful? Once you know that, talk about this with her. You NEED to learn how to make requests of one another and accommodate to reasonable concerns– both ways.

Finally , ask “Is there more to the story, where this is just the final straw after several other annoyances you haven’t articulated?” A good host family-au pair relationship should be resilient enough to handle a situation like this one. It’s shouldn’t piss you off. If if does, you need to examine why. Is your au pair too persnickety, or are you too unyielding? Or both?

Your spouse did the kind thing by responding in the moment to your au pair’s concern. And, he did the right thing by waiting until the light of a new day to hash it out with you. Once you and he come to a deeper understanding of the issue together, then you can strategize about how to discuss this with your au pair AND how to address the real issues at play.

Host Parents and AuPairs- what do you think?

Image: Day OneHundredEight – Television from Edd Sowden


Lucie December 6, 2011 at 11:08 am

If your friend asked you to turn down the tv you would do it without complaining about it.So what’s the difference with an au pair?She takes care of your children instead of you,I think she deserves more than this.

Melissa December 6, 2011 at 11:59 am

I think it is perfectly reasonable and good for her for bringing it up rather than being continually bothered without saying anything. However, I would venture to guess that the HD was annoyed by it because there is more to it. How someone perceives those types of requests are usually related to how we perceive the person making the request. I think it’s a perfectly normal request for any AP to make, but I know I would probably see it in relation to my individual AP. If my current AP, who is great, helpful, very flexible and not at all needy or whiny asked me, I would have no problem with it and be glad she said something, and probably also feel very bad that I didn’t realize I was keeping her up. If my prior AP, who tended to be self-focused, whiny and not concerned with how she impacted those around her, asked me to turn it down, I would have been annoyed by the request.

Taking a Computer Lunch December 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm

While I wasn’t there and don’t know the tone of voice or any other issues with which your husband and AP have been dealing, I would say that it is neither rude nor disrespectful to ask someone to turn down the TV at 12:30 at night, especially when the requestor has to get up in a few hours and care for your children.

As a HM, I am particularly mindful of my AP. My special needs child’s bedroom is right above that of my AP, and on weekend mornings we do not permit her to play in her room until 11:00 (although we do ask the AP to make herself known if she is awake earlier) because our daughter likes to play her toys — including an item with speakers — at full volume (she has a partial hearing loss but not enough to wear hearing aids). My son is not permitted to turn on the volume of the TV above 15 (my rule is if I can hear it upstairs in the kitchen, then my AP can probably hear it in her bedroom which is next to the playroom).

I don’t think you should judge your AP’s annoyance at the sound of the television by your own inability to hear it/care about it. As spouses we learn to sleep through each other’s noises, but your AP is adjusting to a house full of noises that are new to her and if they make her grit her teeth because she can’t sleep at night, then it would be better for her to voice her concerns out loud.

If the simple request to turn the volume down sets your husband on edge, then perhaps it’s time to have a family chat. Perhaps there’s more to this than the TV?

EmmieJane December 6, 2011 at 1:15 pm

I agree with what has been said above. I ask my husband to turn down the TV at night. Sometimes when you are trying to fall asleep that sound can be annoying. I agree with Melissa; it sounds like there is something more here. Her request sounds very basic, unless she was rude in the way she said it. So I would assume that you are having trouble adjusting to each other and that you are otherwise unhappy with her. I would try to dig down honestly in yourself and try to get to the root of what’s annoying you and try to fix that. I think asking to turn down the TV at 12:30 at night is a very reasonable request for someone that lives in the same house.

My 2 cents December 6, 2011 at 4:45 pm

How would he react if she was playing music in her room at 12:30 at night while he was trying to sleep and be ready for work the next day? He should feel he can go and knock on her door and request it be turned down, and she of course would comply. Courtesy goes both ways.

Returning HM December 6, 2011 at 6:01 pm

I agree with others that there may be something simmering here (or else a tone that we don’t know about), given the HD’s reaction. So it seems like an “Is everything OK?” query might be useful – posed to both AP and HD as well. I always think it’s much better to have things on the surface where you can deal with them.

If it turns out everything is fine and that in this situation AP just found HD’s TV too loud, then please let me extoll for you the virtues of a fan turned on HIGH for white noise. For $19.99, Honeywell or whoever can supply your AP with peace and quiet in her room and HD with the opportunity to put his TV on the volume he needs. We keep a simple fan in every bedroom in the house, and we specifically encourage our AP to use it so that we are less worried about the slightest noise (esp in our old house) awakening her. In this case, the newer “quiet” fans are not your friend. You want the basic model at BB&B or wherever and just have her crank it on up when she is going to sleep. Ours even drowns out my husband’s AND my dog’s snoring!

Posie December 6, 2011 at 7:06 pm

My immediate reaction is that it’s unreasonable to be annoyed at this reasonable request, but I have to remind myself that sometimes I feel annoyed when our AP asks for something reasonable because I sometimes think “I am a grown up and I can do whatever I want in my own home!” and then I check myself before I wreck myself and think “it’s fine that she asked me to not wear shoes in the kitchen (which is above her bedroom) late at night or early in the morning!” If we had a live out caregiver, none of this would be an issue but we have an au pair who is an equal member of our household.

Host mom op December 7, 2011 at 4:23 am

Many of the hp responses are perceptive. There is some simmering unhappiness in the relationship which made this minor request seem like a bigger annoyance than it would have been in an otherwise happy relationship.

After several years of hosting aupairs, we are having trouble adjusting with our current ap even after few months.

And we did do a sound test tonight. At 10:00 pm with the volume at 24, the tv is barely audible upstairs. Maybe we will use the white noise solution that was suggested above.

On some of the underlying issues, what do you do if the tasks assigned to the ap are not completed as you asked? After several attempts at reminding and clarifying, I find that it’s easier for me to do it myself.

For eg homework and projects are late and I get notes from the teachers. So now I check the homework. My nutrition guidelines are not followed. So now I put together the kids meals. kids laundry is still hanging in the laundry room 5 days later. Kids not dressed appropriately for the cold weather etc . If I ask her to do it, she does it but next week it’s the same issue again.

I have reduced her on duty hours and continue to move things off her task list

We have had great relationships with our previous APs but this relationship has been disappointing.

anonmom December 8, 2011 at 12:56 am

When you say the children are not dressed appropriately, perhaps her idea and yours differ as to what is the appropriate dress. With those type of issues, have you explicitly told her exactly what you want the children in? I had one au pair who needed explicit directions with everything. She was told our daughter could not walk around the block by herself- yet she let our daughter walk around the block with her younger brother and gave her a cell phone!! I didn’t realize I had to be super specific and say ‘without an adult’ Sometimes if English is not the first language, and the fact that we are culturally different, some au pairs need more direction and written instructions. Regarding the homework, frankly I am shocked that you as the parent did not check the projects yourself. Even though the AP supervises the homework, I always make sure to keep track of projects, etc. How else will you keep an eye as to how your child is doing. Good luck with the au pair.

HRHM December 8, 2011 at 9:28 am

I agree with anonamom,

The more specific and direct you are, the better your results will be. In the beginning, my tendency was to try to not insult the APs intelligence by micromanaging and dictating every detail. I realized quickly that that was a recipe for disaster. They are not parents, most not even seasoned babysitters, they are teenage girls working their first job. So, once I got over that, I bought hanging containers for the kids closet and every Sunday night, put out the clothes for the week. Each day, left a “diary” with the tasks for the day stated with a checkbox next to each (CC actually gives you this book) for her to check off. And it was not, “Do wash” it was “wash clothes, don’t forget to spray stains” “dry clothes” fold clothes and put them into girls drawers – please have this completed before they come home from school”. Made a menu for her with each morning’s breakfast (and dinner on the days she was making it for them) outlined, including fruit/veg, drinks, etc.
Yes, it’s a ton of work, but in the end, after a few months, an AP who is going to fly will start to figure it out and do better on her own without being told. If you start to phase it out and she quickly slides back to baseline, then it’s time to rematch.

I will say, while I was deployed, DH took your path of reducing hours and tasks and by the time I got back, that AP had him doing her entire job while she travelled the US! Needless to say, it was pretty easy to do without her right away, since she contributed nothing at that point.

Mom23 December 8, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I agree with HRHM. I found that for some au pairs giving them a very explicit schedule went a long way. Writing out the schedule, for example, do laundry between 1 and 2 p.m. (I could have cared less if it was done between 1 and 2 or 2 and 3 as long as it was done) went a long way to organizing the au pair’s day for her.

I also think that when you start to get annoyed by small issues, that you have bigger problems you are trying to sweep away (BTDT).

Taking a Computer Lunch December 8, 2011 at 12:58 pm

HRHM – I like your last sentence. It could easily translate to, “If you don’t do the tasks that I ask you to do and I find myself doing them, I am going to think that I could live without an au pair. I need more than a babysitter and I’m going to decide soon if you are able to step up and do what I ask or if I am going to ask for a rematch.”

I must say, I have been very fortunate. I haven’t had to micromanage – a quick reminder has always done the trick (but then again, my special needs child weeds out the young women you just have a good time in mind…)

Host mom op December 7, 2011 at 4:31 am

I have had more conversations with my LCC this year than in the last 5 years. At this point I am wondering if this will be our first rematch.

Taking a Computer Lunch December 7, 2011 at 8:15 am

Before you invoke rematch, sit her down after the kids go to bed and go over your issues. It is important that kids are dressed appropriately for the weather AND that she model appropriate dress for them! You should not be reducing her hours or taking on her tasks. I have found that if I say, tell me what you are going to do today – that I find out if the AP truly understands what I have asked. So if I say, please do the kids’ laundry, pick up the playroom, and check their backpacks for homework, and it’s not getting done, that I need to ask her “What have I asked you to do today?” Whatever you do in the conversation, do not nitpick about little things that annoy you – (e.g. the request to turn down the TV).

I will say that as a parent, I make myself responsible for homework. I also put it on the child. If my son doesn’t turn in a project or his homework, he loses TV for that day or the next day.

There have been good conversations on this blog about establishing benchmarks, and making it explicit to the AP that if she has not made an attempt to achieve them, that you will go into rematch.

I will say, if you’re having multiple conversations with your LCC, that rematch will probably make you more sane. I stuck it out for a year (because it was nearly impossible to rematch with my special needs child because I need a driver) and my husband tired of hearing me complain (even though he didn’t like the AP any more than I).

cv harquail December 7, 2011 at 7:14 pm

I have to jump in and echo what TACL says:

You should not be reducing her hours or taking on her tasks.

Sometimes we try to reduce the problem by reducing what we’re asking for— when instead, we should continue asking.

Even worse, when you reduce hours or reduce the number of tasks because an au pair is not doing a good enough job, you’re teaching him or her that ‘– if s/he does a poor job, she’ll be asked to do less, and thus have more free time. That’s just not a lesson you want to teach anyone.

MommyMia December 7, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Thank you, CV, that is exactly what I was thinking as I read that.

Host mom op December 10, 2011 at 12:42 pm

good advice. I am trying to implement it.
Just yesterday a simple task took 3 tries before it was done right.
first time – not done. AP claimed it was done. Had to show her it was not
second time – done wrong. I explained what was wrong.
third time – finally got it right

. December 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I’m working as a nanny now and one of my duties is to clean the cat’s litter box. After one or two weeks on my new job my boss complained that I was not doing what she asked me to, and mentioned the litter box, and that the cats had done their stuff on the floor because the boxes were not clean. Btw, I had been cleaning those boxes every single day, so I couldn’t understand where the problem was.

So she sat down in front of the boxes with me and showed me HOW to do the cleaning. I had been scooping what I could see, but apparently the cats keep hiding their stuff in the bottom of the box. Whatever stays in there starts to smell bad, and after a certain point they get to grossed out to enter the box again.

Moral of the story: she said “clean the boxes”. I did so, but not the right way. After she showed me exactly how to clean it, I never made the mistake again. If your au pair is not following a simple instruction, maybe she just didn’t understand it how you meant to explain it.

Should be working December 14, 2011 at 7:45 pm

I guess the nanny arrangement makes for different rules, and you are a great ‘team player’ for doing this without complaint, but I would NOT consider it an AP’s job to clean the litter box, or at least not to do it any more often than any other adult in the family.

Newhostmom December 7, 2011 at 8:44 am

Good for you for recognizing that there is more to this, OP. I hope everything works out, whether you rematch or not. On the TV issue, this response was spot on. To other host parents struggling with this, I wanted to stress that different people have different sensory experiences with TV and other household noises. I am one of those (seemingly few) people who hate TV. The sound of it drives me insane. Even at really low volume. Actually particularly at really low volume when it’s just an indiscirnable buzz. I cannot sleep if I can hear it at all. Same with radio or clocks ticking or anything like that. I’m actually very easy going in other ways, but hearing a low buzz at 12:30 when I had to be up early with kids would not work for me :) best thing we ever purchased for our marriage was wireless TV headphones. Might be something for late-night TV watching HPs to have for themselves and for their APs (this of course goes both ways).

anonmom December 8, 2011 at 12:50 am

I am in the same boat as you with the tv noise. That and the radio buzz. Ugh! It almost does not matter where I am in the house in relation to the noise, I cannot sleep with it, period. I am hyper sensitive to light and noise, so I can relate. And you gave me a great xmas gift idea with the wireless tv headphones!

As pointed out earlier, there is a lot more to the original poster’s situation. But, I was flabbergasted when I read that they were annoyed by her asking to turn it down.

kat December 7, 2011 at 10:23 am

it looks like the heart of the problem was already found but i still have to say i was shocked when i read someone can consider a request to turn down tv disrespectful and unreasonable. i believe one has to behave not to bother others, especially where sleep is concerned.
just because it didnt bother you it doesnt mean it couldnt have bothered someoneelse. people have different ability to hear and to cope with noises, not only if trying to sleep. did you expect your ap to stay awake and get angry and feel helpless and loose a few hours of sleep because of that? would you do the same if she was keeping you up?
i think the solution the noise are headphones, and not the fan – making more noise right into her ears.

HRHM December 8, 2011 at 9:18 am


You might be surprised how the “white noise” of a fan can actually help a person fall to sleep. We had to get a room air purifier for DDs room because of severe pollen allergies. It makes a huge humming noise and I was sure it was going to be a problem. Turns out, it actually makes them fall asleep faster and stay asleep later (Probably since they can’t hear us moving around the house while it is running). When we tried to turn it off in the fall (no more pollen after the first frost), no one could fall asleep without it! So now we run it all night every night, just for the noise.

And as someone who has tried earplugs and headphones (while deployed aboard a Navy ship – very loud!) it is very hard to get used to sleeping with something on your head or in your ears – especially if you sleep on your side. I never could make it the whole night with them.

Taking a Computer Lunch December 7, 2011 at 2:32 pm

We used to give out earplugs to our au pairs. Our special needs child used to scream through the night (amazingly our son learned to sleep right through it). Even when they were two floors apart, the sound still awoke many of our au pairs, and we found that simple drug store earplugs were the best solution.

I will second the notion that a person’s ability to screen out sound varies enormously. I scan sleep through TVs and snoring, but a ticking clock is capable of keeping me up all night. What sounds okay during the day, is often “louder” at night, when there are less distracting noises.

angie host mom December 8, 2011 at 3:16 am

Rematch. You and host dad are getting overly irritable about trivial things because you just want this au pair out of your lives. If you are both overreacting this much about being asked to turn down the volume after midnight, what else are you overreacting to that you don’t realize? What else is going to drive you crazy til the end of the au pair year? Just rematch and get it over with – it isn’t going to get better if you are this far gone already.

Reb December 9, 2011 at 8:15 am

Angie, I would hate to think some host families would go into rematch without having discussed the isseus with the au pair. The au pair may not know that there are issues that need to be worked on..

I worry for au pairs who are not given a second chance. What does that do to their confidence in being able to care for children?!

Angie host mom December 11, 2011 at 2:37 pm

I agree with you in 90% of cases. This one is one where the host parents have obviously let things build up to the point that trivial stuff is irritating them. I don’t believe she’ll be able to make them happy if a simple request to turn down the volume after midnight is seen as Rude!

New username but same exited au pair December 11, 2011 at 4:16 am

I just wanted to thank this amazing community and all the toughtful responses towards the au pair’s perspective, it’s only natural that you got there’s got to be more to the issue than a simple and reasonable request about the TV volume.

Sincerelly, happily matched au pair

NewAuPair December 15, 2011 at 4:58 am

It definitely seems like there’s more under the surface here. I agree with what most people have said here and speaking from an au pair’s point of view, asking something simple as that can take an awful lot of courage.

Communication is always the key to any work relationship. Even if I’m in the living room using my laptop my hostfamily always ask if it’s okay for them to watch tv and I always do the same. We’ve never had any issues with things like tv

So I definitely don’t think it’s rude but I don’t think going straight into re-match is very fair to the au pair either.

AFHostMom December 18, 2011 at 12:06 am

This time last year, when we had a nightmare AP and were on the verge of rematching, I would have gotten bent out of shape over this kind of request–simply because it got to the point where everything was tense and awkward. With our current, lovely AP, I would apologize profusely and feel bad for disturbing her. It’s all in perspective and the dynamic of the relationship. I agree that asking would have likely taken a lot of courage from the AP, but I sympathize with being in a frustrating relationship that just isn’t working out.

America10 December 25, 2011 at 2:04 pm

I have read all this conversation. I have to say i have been an au pair for 18 months. Have you ever thought that au pairs might are affraid to tell the truth? Some people getting really mad (doesn`t matter how or what you say). They don`t want that au pairs tell them if it is to noisy in the night, misunderstanding etc. It is hard for us to come into a family which we don`t know!
I think sometimes few hostfamily are cold and heartless. Why can they tell us if we did something wrong or what we could do better next time, but for a good realasionship au pairs must be allowed to say something back.
It doesn`t have to be worse, you say it nice and kindly, you don`t even want to hurt them, but they take it bad and may go into rematch. As you know we are not native speakers, so we say things differntly how you would do it, because we think the way we just said it was nice and good.
I wished hostparents could more often look at the way how an au pair feels and thinks!!!

Host Mom OP December 25, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Thank you for all the responses! We are in rematch now and hugely relieved!
I believe I actually did the dance of joy after she left :)
Hope we have better luck this time.

Great thing is the AP asked for the rematch. She did not like that I was no longer doing her job and picking up after her.
Expecting her to do what I was paying her for was too much for her :)

I have also changed my match strategy. If I have *any* reservations about a candidate, I move to the next one.

It is too damaging and stressful to have the wrong person in my house.

I have updated my handbook and share it with potential AP’s after first contact. The ‘dare to match’ approach as Taking a Computer Lunch HM once referred to.

AFHostMom December 25, 2011 at 11:40 pm

Sounds eerily familiar–I know the relief very well. Best of luck with your selection. We got very lucky in our rematch, and our nightmare AP also found a family that suited her better. We also became much more strict matching after our bad experience.

DarthaStewart December 27, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Sounds like it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. When you get to that point, it’s just time for all parties to move on to something different.

frustrated March 28, 2012 at 8:51 am

We are frustrated with our au pair for several reasons. The one we find most difficult to deal with is the attitude and disrespect. Although she has figured out the routine and “does her job”, she doesn’t have what we would consider commmon courtesy.

When we ask her to do something and she isn’t interested, she smirks with a look like “you can ask, but I will do what I want”. This applies to the type of food she makes the kids to requests to walking the dogs.

We find the way she speaks to us and our children a little rude by our standards, but alot of that we find is lack of education and upbringing and she doesn’t understand when we try to discuss it or explain it so we are living with it but not thrilled with it and are happy that our children recognize it as well.

Last week on a Sunday, we went up to a third floor bedroom early in the morning to put something away and surprisingly found our au pair sleeping in the bed ( her bedroom is on the second floor) She said she did so because her room is near the kitchen and is too noisy on weekends when she isn’t sleeping. Although we would have said okay if she had asked, I was appalled that she took it upon herself to sleep there.

She has blatently broken some houwhold rules regarding some dietary restrictions and requirements. Last week I opinted them out so she could be reminded of them. Last night after she denied understanding the rules, my husband did let her know that she was being disrespectful and needs to re-read the rules and ask if she doesn’t understand but that it was not acceptable.

Perhaps we are being unreasonable but I am afraid that our current experience has made us want to look for other options.

Taking a Computer Lunch March 28, 2012 at 11:00 am

I would say that it’s time to have a chat with her in the evening when the kids are in bed, and discuss the issues you are having. I once told an AP, “In America we use the words lip service when you say yes but mean no, and that’s not acceptable when it comes to caring for my children.” You don’t mention how far you’re in to the relationship, but it’s never too late to tell someone to shape up, especially if she’s in her final weeks with you. It sounds like you have a bit of clash of cultures, so you might need to hear her request for a little more flexiblity, too.

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