Do you really want to know what your Au Pair is up to?

by cv harquail on July 9, 2014

‘Let me live in my fantasy world, where where Au Pairs drink only Diet Coke.’ 

This is what I’d say to Potential Tattletail AP. How about you?

Dear AuPairMom- 

au pair, breaking rules, advice, secretsI have a bit of a delicate question that I would love to get some feedback on from a HF perspective if possible. 

I was an au pair in The U.S. last year and became Facebook friends with the girl who replaced me when I left. During her year, I’ve repeatedly seen questionable things being posted on her Facebook page, by her and others.   

Having worked for this family, I know their house rules and highly doubt they’ve changed for her; she’s much younger and seemingly more of a party animal than I ever was.  I’m not interested in judging her personally, but I do still care for the family and even more so the kids. I would hate to see something happen to them because of an irresponsible au pair. I’m not saying this is necessarily the case with her; I know people can be crazy drunk one night and a stellar employee the other, but let’s say she got caught using her fake ID – she’d get sent home on very short notice and those kids would be heartbroken.

Where am I going with this, you might wonder. Well, my question to the host parent community is – would you want to know?

Would you want to know that your underage au pair is using a fake ID to go out drinking? (As well as drinking in your house, smoking, and other things outside the rules.)

Part of me wants to stick to thinking that this is none of my business, but seeing someone putting themselves in risky situations by breaking rules and laws like this gnaws at me when it could end up affecting people I care about.
Thoughts?  Former NY Au Pair & Potential Tattletale 


Image: Secret, AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by val.pearl


Taking a Computer Lunch July 9, 2014 at 1:39 pm

As someone who has hosted 9 party animals and complete teetotallers over the years, I always assume that my under-age (in America) au pairs have a fake ID – or have become friends with the bartender. As a 16-year-old who visited the city in which I now live, I recall telling a waiter that I was 20, as I quietly slid a $5 bill to the edge of the table. Sure, my handbook says don’t do it you might get caught, but I’m not stupid. The ones that drank the most were careful a) not to drink and drive – that’s a fast ticket home for sure – by either taking advantage of the free sodas that bars offer to designated drivers or by paying for taxis.

I don’t think telling the HF directly is a good idea – you’re likely to get unfriended and you have a good vantage point right now. You could write your former LCC and tell her that one of the APs in the cluster is doing some risky drinking (after all if you’re friends with the AP then you could theortically read many of the FB pages of APs in the cluster), which could give her an opportunity to review the laws and ramifications without fingering anyone. You could also message the current AP with a warning to be careful not to get caught because you know the kids would be heartbroken if she were arrested and had to go home. Might she unfriend you? Possibly?

The #1 reason why I don’t friend my current AP is that I really don’t want to know – I don’t want to read her venting when she’s had a bad day, I don’t want to see her drinking photos (not an issue with AP #9 – she doesn’t drink and is now avoiding situations in which APs are drinking to get drunk). I know some APs go to great lengths to make aspect of the FB page very private, but don’t seem to realize that they don’t own the cloud in which they’ve put their postings.

I’m sure others will come up with equally good courses of action as well as consequences. As a HP, when I hear or see something, I tell the LCC – not the HF – and let her decide how to intercede.

CapitolHostMom July 10, 2014 at 9:39 am

I agree generally that young people are young people. That said, I agree that telling the regional director is a good course if action. She should no what those gals are up to. We have all either been there or had a close friend who lived like this when they were underage. We want to hope the future generation grow up and out of it, but that may be naive. It’s nice you are looking out for this Au pair, albeit online.

WarmStateMomma July 9, 2014 at 2:15 pm

I don’t friend my APs because I think they need a space of their own to express themselves. I also know that I moderate my FB content knowing that my parents and in-laws will see it and think the AP should have a chance to use FB like in the good old days when only your friends could see your stuff. (My APs are from China, so their friends/family from home are not on FB.)

For underage drinking, I’d keep it to myself. Ditto for smoking and drinking in the house – it can’t be too bad or the HPs would have discovered it. Drinking and driving can have horrific consequences for the AP, her passengers, innocent people on the road, and the HPs (who could end up losing everything to a lawsuit by the victims). If you suspect something that endangers someone, I’d report it to the HPs. Otherwise, just keep an eye on things so you’ll be able to notice if anything serious happens.

HRHM July 9, 2014 at 2:47 pm

I am FB friends with my incoming, current and past APs. Part of the reason for this is to measure (with the incoming and current) how tech/social media savvy they are. If they aren’t smart enough to either a) adjust their security settings or b) not post potentially objectionable material, then they are likely not the right AP for my family. Having said that, I have seen some things that have made me have to call out an AP or even touch base with the LCC in one case.

WIth regard to your current position and knowledge, if I was the HM is question and you were normally in contact with me, my hope would be that you would casually inquire as to how new AP is doing and how things are working out. If you get the impression from HM that there are issues, then it may be in everyone’s interest to let her know what your concerns are. If she seems happy with APs performance and doesn’t have problems or concerns then APs off-duty behavior isn’t bleeding into her work life and it should remain this way. Of course, as mentioned previously, if there are real dangers involved (drinking and driving) then that is something I’d want to know regardless.

LondonMum July 9, 2014 at 3:44 pm

I agree withTACL and WSM. Facebook is for them to share with their friends, everyone lets off steam and 5 out of 6 of our APs have been party girls. All great APs (actually the non-party girl was the most difficult one to bond with, not because she wasn’t a party girl though!). I would be inclined to let sleeping dogs lie. If you really strongly feel that you should do something, maybe just PM her on FB to give her a heads up to be careful. If her HF is happy with her you could just be stirring up trouble unnecessarily, also remember, most people exaggerate on FB, a lot of posts are about “look at me, what an amazing time I’m having!”

DC Metro Mom July 9, 2014 at 7:16 pm

I think that I am probably the dissenter here…

I don’t really think that I would want, or care, to know if someone under age was going to a bar with a fake I.D. I wouldn’t approve, necessarily, but as long as she wasn’t driving drunk or making a scene in my home, and was caring well for the kids, that would, IMHO, be her thing. I do think that it may be appropriate to let her know, though, that she could be arrested and, depending upon the state, her driving abilities could be hindered.

As for issues occurring in the house of the HF, that is another issue altogether. I would absolutely want to know if someone was smoking in my home. We have allergy/asthma issues in my home, and many have a closed ventilation system. Thus, all that junk gets recycled through the home, whether the HF notices or not. And they very well may not, considering they may be like me and not go into the AP’s room unless you really have to.

Similarly, I would want to know if someone was drinking in my home. This can have legal ramifications for both the AP and the HF. Also, the likelihood that kids can see her, etc. increases.

I know, though, that I am a little more strict than others. So, take what you know about the personality and the “culture” of the HF’s home into account when making your decision.

Seattle Mom July 10, 2014 at 11:50 am


I’m not even strict by any stretch. But smoking I would want to know about, because I have made it abundantly clear that I won’t accept any smoking. It’s true that I would probably smell it first, but even if I didn’t I would want to know to head off any potential issues.

Drinking.. eh… as long as she’s not drinking on duty or driving, and taking good care of the kids & other responsibilities, then it’s not a problem for me.

I am FB friends with my APs. It helps me understand who they are. I really don’t judge or look for problems. I know that they don’t have to be exactly like me or my friends, and they can still be a good au pair. So far our best AP was a mad partier. But she was 27 and insanely energetic. She also exercised all the time. Also I can’t understand 3/4 of what they post, since they are never posting in english.

hOstCDmom July 10, 2014 at 12:11 pm

I am probably more strict than you. My BASELINE rule for APs is that you will follow the law or we will rematch. I think it is perfectly reasonable that one of my terms of employment is that you will adhere to the law!

This means :
1. no drinking if you are under 21, doesn’t matter the circumstances, location or amount
2. no fake ID
3. no drinking and driving (!!)
4. no use or possession of drugs
5. no speeding
6. no mobile use/texting while operating a vehicle
7. no unauthorized music/movie/software downloads or streaming over my network (I enforce this law in my work and have a zero tolerance policy for this, even if “everyone does it”!)

Now I have many other rules that go above and beyond the “mere” adherence to the law standard, but for me, a starting point is that my AP will abide by US federal and state laws in their entirety.

WarmStateMomma July 10, 2014 at 12:31 pm

I think that’s completely reasonable, hOstCDmom. My APs come from a country that doesn’t see safety in the same light we do, so I really have to hammer home the idea that many deaths can be prevented, babies do not drown “by accident,” etc.

TexasHM July 10, 2014 at 11:36 pm

I am totally with you on almost all of this – only exception being maybe #5, so if AP gets speeding ticket going 5 or 10 over you go straight to rematch? We live by a school/speed traps and I watch APs, friends of mine (and even myself) get tickets there. Just curious if you qualify #5 at all.

hOstCDmom July 11, 2014 at 8:55 am

In my mind I qualify #5, although I don’t tell APs this. (I do tell them that PARKING tickets are not a auto-rematch — but they will be the AP’s responsibility to resolve/pay. Re #5, probably not rematch for 5 or 10mph over; but we did rematch with AP that got a ticket going 35mph over the limit….70mph in a 35 zone, narrow, windy, single lane, no shoulder road. To my thinking, that isn’t accidental/margin of error — that is reckless driving bordering on suicidal/homicidal and intentional breaking of the law!

TexasHM July 9, 2014 at 11:04 pm

I am friends with all my APs on Facebook and it is part of our interview process. Other HFs think I am nuts but heres the deal – if they want me to unfriend them when they get here thats fine I don’t need to know their business. In fact, current AP arrived in Feb and I don’t think I’ve looked at her page since Jan (I personally am not a FB person). BUT – I use it in the interview process for several reasons. 1 – we are a very open family and someone that is really private and/or avoids rocking the boat would not work in our household so if they can’t friend me on FB lets face it, I would drive them crazy. 2 – like HRHM said if they aren’t smart about what they put on FB (you would be amazed at the stories I could tell you on this!!) then I tend to question their judgment (like TACL said they don’t own the cloud so even future employers, in laws, kids who knows who could see it). 3 – It generally gives me a much better picture of who they are then a host family letter and canned video. I can often see whats important to them, how they think and the influence of their friends.
To answer the question, this is a big reason we don’t get APs under 21. I don’t want to deal with a sad AP without a fake, a happy AP with a fake, worrying about AP getting an MIP (TX has a branch of police whose sole job is to bust underage drinkers and fake ID holders so maybe a bigger deal here) worrying about AP getting busted at a house party with alcohol even if she’s not drinking, etc etc etc.
This is a tough call. As a kid I was a huge tattletale so I might be biased. :) Ask yourself – what is your real motivation? Did you like the other AP before all this? Are you jealous? (see last thread) Are your intentions pure? If so – I would likely reach out like was already said and see how HPs are doing. You say they have house rules – what are they? Are there any that she has clearly violated?
Do the agencies talk about this at all at orientation or in cluster meetings? Anyone know if an agency would ever give a warning to an AP over something like this? I have about 10 more questions but I am hoping OP will shed some more light!

hOstCDmom July 10, 2014 at 8:45 am

Curious Texas HM – would you match with an AP that didn’t have a FB page? Who wasn’t into it, or who had a strong sense of digital privacy and didn’t use/want to use FB?

TexasHM July 10, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Great question hOstCDmom. Yes I would match with an AP that didn’t have Facebook but I would expect explanation. I am not a big FB person myself so its definitely not a requirement. We almost matched (timing was off or we would have) with a Slovakian AP that had no FB page – she was very mature and immediately launched into a tirade about what a waste of time FB and social media sites are and she’s not a drinker and has a small group of close friends that know what she is doing because they are with her so why should she setup a page to broadcast herself to strangers and the world?! I laughed and moved on in the interview process, no worries. Our arriving AP (Nov) has a FB page but it was literally 90 days old when we were interviewing so that perked me up. I wondered if she had another real page and just set this one up as a front for interviewing, etc so I dug deeper and asked her about it. She too said she thought it was a huge waste of time but her two best friends talked her into setting it up so they could use it to stay connected, share photos, message while she was in the US. Fair enough. I read through her FB page and sure enough – first message is from bestie saying “finally you created a page! welcome to the real world!” or some such. AP had not made any posts herself, just uploaded photos and filled out her basic profile info so could she still have been lying? I guess but I’m thinking not likely.
I had one AP I was on the fence about, connected on FB and she had a TON of expletives and B word type posts. Lots of lamenting ex lovers, women power stuff which is all fine its a free country but I was on the fence before and saw nothing there that made me reconsider. Scantily clad halloween pics, some pics doing shots with friends, again, she is a very sweet girl (we stayed in touch and hope to meet) but I worried about her maturity level and coping skills and those were reinforced by what I saw on FB and sure enough, in rematch within weeks of arrival. Now in a better fit family, learned a lot and got some licks and doing much better.
On the flipside, connecting to two previous APs FB made me like them more – lots of candid photos with the kids they professed to love in their host family letters, taking little sis to the movies, friend pics that didn’t all involve alcohol or had a glass of wine and not flaunting it, etc. I also often liked the thoughts/ideas/videos they posted.
Net/net – its been a great screening tool – the APs I really think are gems tend to shine brighter (even if that means lamenting Facebook like I would) and the ones that I wonder if they need a little polishing seem to dull further when I check their FB profile.
In fairness, I position it as a way for them to see pictures of my kids, our holiday traditions and customs because thats about all I post on FB. They can learn a lot about what life would be like with our family from FB and I have had candidates get less interested in us as well so its a two way street. Lid for every pot! ;)

Potential Tattletale (OP) July 13, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Are my intensions pure? Definitely. I don’t care for meddling in other people’s lives and rarely have an opinion on what anyone does with theirs, as long as it doesn’t affect children (or other innocent people) in a negative way. I was the one who chose not to extend and am certainly not jealous of this au pair, nor the next one. Quite frankly, all I care about is the (if ever so small) risk of my former host kids – or any kids for that matter – being injured or mistreated.

The two major house rules I know she’s broken are drinking both in- and outside the house as well as next to one of the family’s cars (really hoping the latter was a non-alcoholic beer or that there was another designated driver) and smoking (using a device that could be holding just about anything). Maybe nothing out of the usual au pair rebellion but a red flag to me nonetheless. Especially seeing as how one of the smoking pictures popped up in my feed mid-day on Facebook, while the kids were in school (I know because I still had the schedule in fresh memory at the time).

Their policy is (or was, anyway) no drinking for underage au pairs (and no drinking before a work day for us 21+), a zero tolerance for smoking and the same for driving after having as much as a zip of alcohol.

My agency talked at least a good 20 minutes about underage drinking, drugs and fake ID:s at orientation. I’m sure she got the same lecture, but I’m also sure she feels invincible like every other 18yo au pair I’ve met, which is fine – when she’s not in charge of the care of children.

TexasHM July 9, 2014 at 11:10 pm

My husband just had a great point – if it was our previous APs he said he would not only expect them to tell us he would be very disappointed if they didn’t. Our APs are lifelong family members and as such we expect them to act like it which in this case would definitely mean telling us. As long as your heart is in the right place I wouldn’t hesitate to reach out if you have a good relationship.

Anonymous in CA July 10, 2014 at 2:29 am

I agree with TexasHM’s husband on this one. I would want to know if the current AP is making poor choices and not even realizing they are poor choices (like posting party pics on FB….does she know to turn off location settings? does she realize that the internet doesn’t forget?) If she is making poor choices in this regard, in what other areas might she make poor choices. I’d be disappointed if former AP knew something like that and didn’t say anything to me. I’d feel like a chump.

I also dislike the term ‘tattletale.’ If someone see someone else do something that is potentially harmful either to the person or to others (here, either current AP or, worse, the host children), I think we have an obligation to say something. I dislike that children are taught to engage in bystander apathy rather than take action or speak up when something is not right…it’s no different here.

Bottom line, though, former AP would be horrendously remorseful if something preventable happened and the result was harm of some sort to the host children…all because she didn’t want to be viewed as a ‘tattletale.’ I do think there is a respectful way to alert the HM to perhaps review the rules and explain the ramifications to the current AP.

NJmama July 10, 2014 at 5:50 am

I agree – I’m one of those who would want to know, especially in a case like this where an AP posts something on a public forum (different than her confiding in you and swearing you to secrecy).

You don’t go into great detail about the risky situations or rules that are being broken. But clearly you are bothered by what you are seeing. I’m a big “trust your gut” kind of person. Also while I’m sure some people can keep a solid line between how they act on the job and how they don’t, the fact that the AP is posting this stuff on Facebook definitely shows a lack of maturity. I’d be surprised if she could keep it separate from her work.

Skny July 9, 2014 at 11:23 pm

Depends on what… If there was a safety concern or something related to the kids, if like to know. Something that mainly pertained to Au pair (a risky to Au pair behavior) I would not care

NoVA Twin Mom July 10, 2014 at 8:56 am

This. :)

I care – to the extent that it could really jeopardize them or their status in the US – if my au pair goes out drinking, but not a lot. I don’t want her to drive after drinking. I tell incoming au pairs what I plan to tell my kids when they’re older – if you get into a situation you can’t get safely out of, CALL ME. If your ride gets drunk, call for a ride home. Make me the “mean host mom” that won’t let you do things if your friends want to do something you don’t. I admit, I’ll probably be grumpy if you call me in the middle of the night for a ride home, but I won’t be angry. Probably. As long as I find out from you instead of the police. :) But after my mood blows over – and they do relatively quickly – I’ll be proud that you called for help. This goes hand in hand with my “requirement” that our au pairs carry an American cell phone provided by us with them wherever they go, so they can call for help if they need it.

Basically, if it’s something that’s largely only going to hurt the au pair – I don’t need to know. My one daughter has asthma, and although we have it pretty under control at the moment, no smoking is allowed in my house or car because of it. But I’m not going to actively investigate to find out if an au pair was smoking at a bar or with friends that were.

But if one of my past au pairs found out my current au pair was drinking *and driving*, or bringing risky individuals into my home without my knowledge, or had a second job as an “escort”, you bet I’d want to know. At that point it does begin to affect me, AND my kids.

My one caveat to the “live and let live” rule is drugs. Anyone bringing drugs into my house could cause me to lose my clearance and my job. There’s no wiggle room for “recreational” use (or storage) of drugs in my house, even if they’ve been made legal in certain areas (and they still aren’t legal where I live). THAT I would need to know about immediately, from whoever found out.

I’ll echo too, for the OP, that your reason for wanting to tell is huge here. It’s not tattling if someone could really get hurt, or if someone is in trouble they don’t know how to get out of. I DON’T think this is the case here, but if the motive were something like “*I* would never have done this, but look what your new au pair is up to – how could you choose her instead of extending with me” – then it would be wrong to bring it up.

Separately, a few of our au pairs have had “public” facebook accounts (with which they’ve friended me) as well as a password-protected blog. I look at the Facebook but not the blog. That gives them a place to vent, and keeps their Facebook “clean” for public consumption.

WarmStateMomma July 10, 2014 at 10:25 am

Drugs are one of the 5 violations on my “immediate-rematch-no-discussion” list. Someone from overseas may have no idea how serious drug crimes are in the US or how much of a mess she could cause for her HF, even just for a small bag of pot. Underage drinking and drug use are both illegal, but drug use is infinitely more serious. I’d give an underage AP a ride home if she or her ride were drinking, but I’d give her an hour to pack if she brought drugs into my house.

hOstCDmom July 10, 2014 at 10:30 am

Agree re drugs! What are the other 4 violations if you don’t mind sharing?

WarmStateMomma July 10, 2014 at 10:42 am

1 – Leaving my toddler alone in the car.

2 – Leaving my toddler alone in the bath, pool, or anywhere else with 1 cm or more of water.

3 – Drinking and driving, or accepting a ride from someone else who has. (I will pick up at any hour, and let the AP’s friend spend the night, so there’s no excuse for this.)

4 – Not calling me immediately if one of my dogs gets out of the house. (They are difficult to recall and it’s not uncommon for dogs to be hit by cars or attacked by coyotes one block from my house.)

Returning HM July 10, 2014 at 11:46 am

I love this list and am going to adapt it for our own handbook, so thank you. I had a narrative discussion about some of these in our handbook, but our AP apparently didn’t think that my statement of “no alcohol and driving” meant he could not have two beers (according to him) at a party and then drive at 4am (and fall asleep at the wheel and crash our car and then lie about it), so I think I need to spell it out much more clearly. I am definitely going to label drinking *any amount* and driving as “immediate rematch with no discussion” for the handbook going forward. We too are clear that we will pick our AP up or lay out money for a taxi any time and any place, so there is no excuse for drinking and driving at all with us either. Thanks for sharing this language. PS as someone who volunteers in dog rescue, I especially appreciate #4 as well!!

WarmStateMomma July 10, 2014 at 12:07 pm

I pass zero judgment on drinking, as long as no driving follows. Our APs get flushed and tipsy after 1/4 glass of wine, when their blood alcohol content would be far below legal limits. But they see that HD and I will have wine with dinner and then drive home. It’s different because (a) we can physically process alcohol and (b) we have enough experience to know when we should not drive. It’s a double standard, for sure.

hOstCDmom July 10, 2014 at 12:16 pm

As you will see from my other comment I just posted, I do pass judgement on UNDERAGE drinking. As in immediate rematch, no discussion. Break the law and you will not be my AP for another day.

True, people make mistakes. But mistakes have consequences. I would not kick my child out of my family for drinking underage (although there would be SEVERE consequences); but I would terminate a relationship with an AP forthwith for underage drinking. I am not obligated to rear and reform an AP, who is already an adult, and one is not entitled to be my AP, and if they break the law, then they will cease being my AP. I’m sure many HP would tolerate or worth through this, but I don’t have the time, energy or desire to deal with it, so my rule is black and white: condition of employment is adherence to the law.

Clearly, I disclose this fully when matching!

angie host mom July 10, 2014 at 1:55 am

Here is the deal. I don’t have house rules that forbid fake Id or drinking. I do have house rules about smoking in house or around kids and I expect European aps may have a cigarette while clubbing. I also have rules about boys being over. If ap had boy over and put it on fb, I am sure I would have at least 3 former aps emailing me. Drinking? I would never hear.

CA-TXmom July 10, 2014 at 7:41 am

I would want her to tell me any concerns with my current Au pair. I wouldn’t necessarily do anything right away but I would be more closely watching. We do not match with anyone under 21 to reduce complications and we do offer our Au pairs some wine or beer if we are having some. I am more concerned about her lack of judgement to put those kind of pictures on FB. I don’t friend my Au pairs but I would want a former Au pair to tell me if she was worried.

NBHostMom July 10, 2014 at 9:11 am

Have you considering asking your prior host mom if she’d like to know?

There was another suggestion here about asking your previous host mom in general how things are going, then discussing further if there are hints of issues… I like that idea.

For me, personally I’d be tempted to be even more direct and just ask your previous host mom if she’d like this information. For example, you could pose a questions to her such as: “I’m seeing some photos on FB of “new au pair” which concern me. I’m on the fence as to if I this is something you’d want me to discuss with you. I don’t want meddle in “new au pair’s” private life, but I’m concerned there is the potential her behavior may impact you / the children. Let me know please, we can chat if you’d like to know more.”

After hearing an intro like that as a host mom, I’d have to say ‘yes’, the curiosity would be killing me. However, by broaching the issue through offering the information, you can state upfront your intention (i.e. not to be a “tattletale”, but genuine concern). I’d also discuss with the hostmom how she plans on handling the information, I’d hope she’d have the discretion not to say “old au pair” saw X,Y and Z on FB.

Also remember please, like mentioned previously, what people post on FB is rarely the reality of their lives. She may be making an immature attempt to show her friends back home all the fun she’s having and distorting the true picture.

happyhostmom July 10, 2014 at 1:42 pm

I would absolutely want to know if it was a violation that put my children in danger or endangered the safety of our family. I agree with alot of the examples above such as leaving a child alone in water, if the dogs escaped, not texting/driving, etc. I don’t mind the underage drinking, and that’s not one of my rules. As a HD said above I would be disappointed if my previous au pairs didn’t tell me, as I view them as part of our family. I know the exact same situation came up with another au pair in our agency and the old au pair told the parents about the video blog of the au pair driving and filming herself while driving a 1 1/2 year old around in the car. I’m sure it was a hard decision for her, but if it had been my former AP and she didn’t tell me, I’d be really upset. So in a nutshell, if it’s just stuff she is doing with her friends and not endangering herself, I’d tell the host mom or AD. If you are worried about her own safety (I.e. drinking and driving) then write to her personally. As for FB, as with both former APs and nannies and sitters, I don’t friend them while they are working for me. I think it’s good to keep some separation.

Angie host mom July 10, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Here’s another view, what do you accomplish by sharing this information? Let’s look at a decision tree, assuming there are no safety risks for the HF and HK in the behavior.

choice 1 – tell HF
option 1 – it is a big deal to them
result – The HF learns AP is breaking rules. So the AP will either be kicked out or put on warning. Drama will ensue.
option 2 – it is not a big deal to them.
result – Nothing happens.

choice 2 – don’t tell HF
option 1 – they find out. suboption 1 it is a big deal to them
Result – drama ensues, ap may be kicked out, HF mad at previous ap for not sharing.
suboption 2 – it isn’t a big deal,
result nothing happens
option 2 – they don’t find out,
result nothing happens

So basically you double the chances for drama by telling, but the risk of not telling is they are ticked at you too when they find out. From a selfinterested point of view, you should tell.

oranje_mama July 10, 2014 at 3:58 pm

My personal view is that drinking – and partying – is not problematic per se, especially if this is only taking place on weekends (when AP doesn’t need to work the next day). And I don’t see why this is something that HP need to know about.

That said, I’m FB friends with all of our APs – former and current. I too want to see the types of things they make publicly available. “Normal” stuff (including drinking/party pictures) does not bother me. Mainly, I check out the page to get a better sense of who they are. And, I regularly keep in touch with former APs this way.

TexasHM July 10, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Fellow HMs that have posted so far and say drinking is ok (not driving) do you mean also for UNDERAGE APs? I just want to ask because 21 and over we would be fine with but under – no. Just wondering if it makes a difference to you all as well.
The combination of fake ID – breaking law, drinking – breaking law and previous AP insinuating additional infractions would be enough for us to throw in the towel. I mean honestly, it is pretty stupid to willingly go to these lengths to break laws in a foreign country. They are lucky they are in the US! Maybe I have just seen Brokedown Palace too many times :) ….love that movie….

WarmStateMomma July 10, 2014 at 5:28 pm

It hasn’t been an issue for us. Our APs are from China – every candidate I’ve seen from China is over 21 and neither of my two APs have shown any interest in drinking. It’s actually a bit of a social barrier to them because the other APs often make plans to “go out” which imply drinking. My APs ask for juice wherever they go – even though I’ve told them asking for water or soda is less awkward/childish.

I personally wouldn’t care about underage APs drinking because it’s something HD and I enjoyed thoroughly in our day. No one in our circle ever had/needed a fake ID and I’d tell an underage AP it’s best not to use one. Honestly, I’ve never heard of a young woman having much trouble getting served, especially if she’s at least 18. The places that strictly enforce a 21+ rule are usually too expensive for a group of APs anyway.

German Au-Pair July 11, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Hahaha, that is so cute! Asking for juice while everyone is drinking is very funny and awkward indeed. But in a cute way.
A friend who has spend quite a bit of time in China now orders tea wherever she goes. THAT is so weird, especially when we go to one of those super trendy restaurants. But at least the Chinese girls look foreign and have an eccent to excuse that…my friend looks and speaks like a regular German so it’s just plain. weird. I love it.

WarmStateMomma July 12, 2014 at 8:57 am

They learn not to order “tea” here – it’s always sweetened iced tea unless you specify “hot tea.”

German Au-Pair July 12, 2014 at 8:27 pm

No, you don’t understand. She doesn’t just order tea. When my friend orders tea, she will order a peppermint tea at the coolest place in the area. Hilarous!

NoVA Twin Mom July 10, 2014 at 8:04 pm

So far, knock on wood and admittedly to my knowledge, we’ve had three underage au pairs and two “legal” ones. One of the “legal” ones would sometimes get a hotel room with friends near where they were going out so that they didn’t have to worry about a ride home. While I sometimes raised an eyebrow at the neighborhood where the hotel was (a little sketchier than I would have chosen, but not altogether bad) I actually worried about her less because of her foresight.

The other “legal” one lasted two months before rematch. She moved to Annapolis, home of the US Naval Academy. I seriously think that was one of her deciding factors regarding choosing a rematch family. I figured her new host family had more to worry about than we did, because she’d already been partying with the midshipmen. Luckily, if she went out drinking, she stayed the night with a friend closer to the bars, or I didn’t hear about it. HER I would have had concerns about, but she was still on relatively good behavior when she was with us.

As far as our underage au pairs go, they seem to have been kind of naive. They were definitely rule followers. When I was having the “CALL ME if you need a ride home, no matter how sober (or not) you are” with one of them, she reminded me that she was only 19 and seemed genuinely shocked when I mentioned that while yes, underage drinking is illegal in the US, I knew she could get alcohol if she wanted to. So I changed the speech to “just in case your RIDE has a drink and you need a ride home…” for her :)

I guess it comes down to the fact that while I wouldn’t be thrilled that she did something illegal and drank underage, I want to give her some freedom to “be herself” so that she WON’T create a ‘dummy’ facebook page or hide the big stuff from me.

The other factor is that given where our au pairs come from (Northern Europe) they’ve been “legal” at home for a few years. I don’t worry as much about them drinking for the purposes of getting drunk as I do about kids that grew up here and suddenly at 21 become legal. Our last au pair told stories of enjoying a beer in the backyard sauna with her parents. I think the chances of an au pair that comes from a background of one drink not being a big deal choosing to have ONE drink while out rather than a CASE of drinks while out are pretty high – in theory, she learned moderation at home from her parents.

Taking a Computer Lunch July 10, 2014 at 8:47 pm

While I don’t condone it in my handbook, quite frankly I expect it. Ironically most of my “over 21” APs have been teetotallers, while none of my under 21 were. Now, all of them came from countries where alcohol consumption at their age was perfectly legal. All of them were responsible behind the wheel of a car. Alcohol was not a factor for the one who had a serious distracted-driver car accident.

Angie host mom July 10, 2014 at 8:56 pm

We have had a bunch of German au pairs. They can drink beer at something like 16 legally in their own country.

Honestly, I think 21 is a ridiculous age for drinking limits when all contract law and military service can start at 18. What, I trust her with caring for and driving my children but I don’t think she can handle a beer at a party when she has been drinking at home for 3 years?

If our au pair engages in activity here that is legal in her home country, I’m not going to help or hinder it. Not going to buy her booze, but not going to say anything if she is drinking beer at a house party where she is staying the night.

I know a lot of people freak out about the drinking under 21. Maybe because I had my BS degree by 20 I just can’t comprehend not trusting someone who is 18 with their own life.

hOstCDmom July 10, 2014 at 9:10 pm

My issue isn’t one of moral right or wrong re drinking at under 21 yrs old (I actually completely concur that the drinking age should be lower, at least lowered to 18, and support the Amethyst Group philosophy), BUT I still expect my APs to follow the law of the land. The law is the law, drinking under 21 is still illegal. Not liking a law is not an excuse to ignore it/not follow it in my book. Just because it is different in their country doesn’t make it so here. If my kids want to become political activists on this issue to change the law, more power to them. But, in the AP context I don’t want any of the risks, liability, stresses, headaches or aggravation associated with my AP breaking the law. Hence my rule is simple – follow the law. Break it and we rematch.

TexasHM July 10, 2014 at 11:52 pm

I disagree that 21 should be the age as well but as stated, it is the law. I wouldn’t go to another country and expect them to accept that I’m American as a reason to be able to do what I do here. And as far as having a beer and driving ourselves I don’t consider it a double standard because it’s MY car. If an AP (or anyone else) wants to have a beer and drive or do whatever they want whenever then don’t be my AP. In exchange for living in my home and driving my car you give up the right to drink in any amount and drive, the right to break the law and the right to bring guys home and have them sleep with you in your bed. Car curfew isn’t a lost right because you’re borrowing it. If I ask you to bring it home by midnight then you do because it’s not yours and I’m letting you use it. You want to drive around at 4am wherever you want? Buy your own car – no problem! I guess I just get frustrated because it’s not that hard to stay busy and have a great experience without breaking the law and disrespecting the family’s house rules.

Dorsi July 11, 2014 at 3:08 am

We have had three under 21s. I know one of them would drink at a friend’s house sometimes when they would sleepover on the weekends. I didn’t see it as a big deal. I try to frankly explain the consequences of drinking underage. Europeans tend to be shocked that you could actually end up with police trouble.

Our recent flame-out AP hung out a bit with the former AP (who had legally returned to the area). After flame-out went home, our old AP told ma about a few concerns she had with her — including some occasional smoking. I wasn’t miffed that she hadn’t mentioned them before — none of them were big deals by themselves. She couldn’t do the work and that ended the deal. (I actually had been suspicious about the smoking. Pro-tip: If you don’t like walking anywhere, going out for a walk when you are stressed out seems suspicious).

TexasHM July 10, 2014 at 8:02 pm

I imbibed myself too but again, I was a US citizen. I would not have been that brazen in a foreign country.

Boys Mama July 17, 2014 at 9:17 pm

When we had our Party Girl AP, the straw that broke the camel’s back was exactly this scenario. Former AP saw on FB (I didn’t see it because she had created a false FB page for me, former AP was also the one to share that info) that Party Girl had been out partying until 5AM (curfew is 8 hours before working) when she took my 4 month old infant out of my arms at 7AM so I could leave for a full day of work. We were SO grateful for the information, it was the only proof we had to back up our suspicions.

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