Religious Au Pair Doesn’t Celebrate Holidays. Would you still consider her?

by cv harquail on July 22, 2017

Celebrating American holidays with your au pair or host family is one of the biggest (and most fun) elements of cultural exchange.

Holidays are a unique window into culture. The traditions, the food, the festive spirit all invite us to talk about the values behind the celebration.

On the more personal, less ‘cultural’ level, holidays are also important ways to be part of the family. Especially for Host Children, having an Au Pair sitting at the Thanksgiving table or singing at their birthday party creates important feelings and memories.

1982446811_96d7342469_mThat’s why the idea of an Au Pair choosing not to celebrate a particular holiday with the family can be off-putting. I’m thinking back over the dozens of emails from Au Pairs who’ve wanted to check out of a Christmas, a Passover, a New Year’s eve, or a kid’s birthday party, and I shudder. It just doesn’t seem like the right attitude, to opt out of a family holiday celebration.

Of course, we’ve always made exceptions when the holiday being celebrated isn’t shared. We don’t force an Au Pair to attend a Christmas service, or require them to sit at the Passover table.

But the idea of an au pair who completely, totally, won’t be participating in family holidays? That would be tough for me.

I hadn’t realized, though, that some religious traditions “eschew” or ban holiday celebrations altogether. I had to go Google”Jehovah’s Witness and Holidays” to get some perspective on the email, below.   Now that I understand that this is a religious practice, I’m a little more empathic. But I’m also sure that this au pair would not fit with our family.

Would she fit with yours?  What thoughts and advice do you have for her?  

 Hi Au Pair Mom,
Let me start off by saying that I love your blog and have been binge reading it for the past few weeks!

I am in the process of becoming an au pair, although so far I have only attended one of the informative meetings cultural care requires when you want to apply for the program, therefore I have been extensively researching the au pair program.

The reason I am writing you this email is because I am a Jehovah’s Witness, and we do not celebrate holidays and other special occasions (i.e. birthdays, christmas, easter, thanksgiving, halloween, mother’s and father’s day, new year’s eve, independence day).

This does not mean I don’t want to be involved with the family, as I would be absolutely thrilled to participate in other kind of activities with my host family, such as school plays, soccer games, graduations, and any other special occasions that do not include the ones listed above.

I know that this kind of events play a major role in American families lifestyle, so I was wondering if any of you would choose not to host an au pair based on the fact that she can not celebrate certain holidays due to religious reasons.

I don’t believe this affects the way I care for your children because even though I would not participate in the holiday celebration, I would still be there to do my job the way I’m supposed to.

For example, just to be more specific, when it comes to birthday parties, if it was my host kid’s birthday I would still look after him that day as normal, but I wouldn’t get him/her a birthday present (or christmas present, or mother’s day present or father’s day present, you get the point) (in my family we still get each other random presents during the year, just not for the holidays, which is something I would definitely do with your children), or sing or participate directly in the party you may throw him/her. If it was someone else’s birthday party I would be more than willing to drive him there and pick him up but I wouldn’t feel comfortable staying during the party.

With celebrations where there is a dinner or something like that (christmas, thanksgiving or the 4th of july barbecue) again, I would look after the children as usual, and even help with the cooking process if the family wants me to just like I would in any other day, but I would not have the special dinner with the family because to me that would count as celebrating. That evening or afternoon I would prefer eating after the party or dinner is over, regardless if it is the same food because I don’t have a problem with that, it is just the symbolism during the celebration that I want to avoid. And for halloween for example I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking the kids trick or treating the same way I wouldn’t help with christmas decorations, but would have no problem getting them dressed up .

I feel like it is very important to be super specific about each situation to avoid misunderstandings with my host family, and really hope to read what you have to say on the subject.

To me it is not a big deal since I see it like any other cultural difference other au pairs might have, however I do understand you might feel differently because to you this might be extremely important and so I’m afraid no family will want me because of this situation.

Thank you so much and I hope you consider my email as it is something that really worries me.

Corry’s holiday season ornaments on Flickr


Nikki July 22, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Hey! I just wanted to write you because I’m a host mom who was looking for an au Pair and was just interviewing with an Au Pair who is Jahovas Witness! I absolutely had no issue with this and asked many follow up questions to be sure. For example my daughters birthday is coming up and I needed to know if she would be able to help out despite not feeling comfortable singing Happy Birthday. She was, so that wouldn’t be an issue for us. For the holidays I would suggest you try to find a family who gives au pairs off to go on trips during most holidays. Those types of families will not expect you to spend holidays with them. I would caution you however against phrasing it that way so that the host family doesn’t think you’re asking for all holidays off. Good luck!

OP July 23, 2017 at 8:39 pm

Yeah, just like the au pair that you interviewed as long as it does not involve direct participation in the birthday itself, I would be willing to help out as if it was any other day, this may not be the case with other JW au pairs (but I doubt that would work, because host families have au pairs for child care purposes and it would be illogical to be an au pair and not want to work for whatever reason no matter what day it is) though, as it is a matter of conscience. It’s great to know that you would consider someone with my restrictions, you were in fact the only one, but I am forced to ask what kind of relationship do you look for with an au pair. Would you still want to include her in other family activities as a member?

WestMom July 22, 2017 at 3:27 pm

Honestly, this would be a deal breaker for us. Full disclosure, anyone with major restrictions or demands would not be considered in our family to start with (religious, dietary or other). These are major restrictions in my view.

This is not like ‘other cultural differences other au pairs might have’. Other au pairs may not celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving, but they look forward to participating while here. It’s not a cultural difference, it’s a restriction.

I’ll drive our AP to church/temple/mosque, I’ll celebrate your special holidays, and will even alter certain meals as needed, but if our au pair cannot participate in the normal celebrations of life in our family, it would not be a right fit for us.

Not to say that you will not find a family. But you may have better luck finding a family that plans to travel or be away without you for major holidays. But be aware that those families may not be looking for the same type of relationship as the ones who look forward to include you in their celebrations and travels.

Or find a JW family, there must be many in the USA who participate in the AP program. I wonder if it might be helpful to reach out to your church directly to get your name out to various communities?

OP July 23, 2017 at 8:50 pm

It’s a very good idea, that is also what AuPairMom told me in her response email and I will definitely consider it, I honestly hadn’t even thought about it until now.

The reason i called it a cultural difference is merely because it is in fact part of my culture, but I am aware that it is a restrictive part of it and because of this I was aware it would be a lot harder to find a host family. Thank you so much for the advice!

Previousaupair July 23, 2017 at 12:09 am

As an au pair who is a vegetarian, I 100% feel you! A lot of families wrote me off because of this but people who don’t like you because of your ‘restrictions’ just aren’t the right fit. You’ll find a family that appreciates your differences or at least is willing to tolerate them.

f_steph July 23, 2017 at 8:03 am

I think it all depends on the family, maybe there are families out there who share the same religion and would be very happy to have someone to share their faith.

That being said, for my family, it would not be an option. Holidays are front and center in our culture and our traditions and it would be very difficult for us to have someone who can’t celebrate them. This may be the case for a lot of American families but don’t let that discourage you, just like the vegetarian au pair who commented above, it will reduce the number of families who contact you but you’ll find a good match with patience and time.

Another DC Twin mom July 23, 2017 at 10:18 am

The thing is, celebrations– whether religious, national or secular — are some of the most culture-defining parts of life and of family life. Eating with the family on Thanksgiving, watching fireworks on July 4, trick-or-treating, or dying eggs at Easter are the ways families and cultures are brought together. Coming to the US for cultural exchange and then not taking part in the most cultural part of life seems to defeat the purpose, and, as a host parent, would be a deal breaker for me as a host parent.

Now I understand that participating in these events is not simply not participating in another religion but actively goes against your own religion — so I can understand that you don’t have a choice. I suppose it would be like keeping Kosher but then being asked to eat pork. But as a host family, there is no way I would consider you– Having someone living as part of the family but then not be part of the family at the most family-esque events would make it an unpleasant experience for us. Also, I suspect I would constantly be walking on eggshells about what you could and could not do. (Ice cream on the last day of school- is that allowed?)

Asking too much for this host mom.

Italian HM July 23, 2017 at 3:36 pm

As before-said, you maybe want to look at matching with families who are also Jehova’s Witnesses.

I do not tend to have a problem with au pairs of all kinds: boys, girls, LGBT, vegetarian, vegan, Muslim, Christian, Sikh… however, I would probably not match with an au pair who was a Jehovah’s Witness. I do not want to be definite, and I am sad with myself about it, but I have known many, many people who are Jehovah’s Witness and they tend to have very strict ideas about gender roles, and what is right and wrong, in addition to the complication of not celebrating festivities (and it would not be acceptable to me that you eat before or after us. In my family we all eat together every day. This is part of sharing culture and it would make me sad for you to be alone on these special days. And also when we have celebrations we are eating all day, from the morning until nearly midnight, and there is family in the house, and there would not be any space for you to be alone and quiet to eat away from what you would consider a festivity). I am sorry for it, and I would like to talk to you to make sure, but my feelings are not to match with an au pair like this.

Other families will think differently, but you will have to look harder to find them

OP July 23, 2017 at 9:09 pm

You absolutely don’t have to be sorry for this! I understand families have their very own criteria and if this is part of yours then that’s nothing to be ashamed of. I too will have my own criteria when it’s time to choose a superfamily, it is just natural.

However i would like to add that even though we do have very clear guidelines about what is right and what is wrong (as most religions do) that does not mean we will force those beliefs on you and definitely not on your kids, as it is you the one that gets to decide how and what to teach them. We also don’t have strict views on gender roles, but the way I see it is that no matter what your beliefs are, as long as you don’t try to force them on your hostfamily then there is no problem. You may think differently about this and that is ok.

I would probably have no problem in eating with you as long as you had no problem with me acting as if it was any other meal, and clearly not participating in the celebration itself. It all depends though. But even if I definitely had to eat by myself that day, I really don’t need to be alone or away for this, it is not about isolating myself, it is simply not participating in the holiday customs. I really appreciate your advice!

Frankfurt AP boy July 23, 2017 at 6:53 pm

Are you sure you wouldn’t rather go to another other than the USA? haha European countries tend to have less “important” holidays.

I have been an au pair in Spain and Germany and come from the UK. The only celebrations that were important to the families I lived with were birthdays and Christmas. Most countries have their national holidays but nothing like the 4th of July and in my countries there was nothing so important that I was expected to attend. I always had Christmas off. The only problem I could foresee in Europe is with the kids birthdays – the idea of explaining to one of the kids I have looked after that their new au pair wont want to celebrate their birthday with them makes me quite sad. I don’t know how easy that is for children to understand. In the end though I suppose it isnt that big a deal – there a plenty of occasions when the kids want the au pair with them but they are busy doing something else.

Spanishaupair July 24, 2017 at 4:21 am

I was thinking the same. I was am Aupair in England and Ireland and didnt much celebrate hollidays, almost all aupairs i knew went home for Christmas and there is no much of national hollidays that they celebrate at home

About birthdays there are families like my irish family that they said “celebrate if you want with us then if not is fine”, indeed i never went to the oldest birthday party as they celebrate It in another town and got that week off

kat July 25, 2017 at 1:29 pm

i was also thinking the same. also in my experience there are more families, who prefer more of a employer-employee relationship with their aupair and would not expect you to participate in birthdays etc. some mayeven consider that as a private family event so aupair is kind of not included anyway.
in the us i would definitely go for a family with same religious views.
have to say thank you for the insight in the jehovahs witnesses lives, i didnt have a clue.

kat July 25, 2017 at 1:53 pm

i wanted to say its probably more common in Europe to have more of a employer-employee kind of relationship than its in the US.

NZ HM July 23, 2017 at 7:04 pm

I would agree that there will be a family for you out there, but it might take a while to find them (as they say: there is a lid for every pot!). Getting in touch with people from JW communities in the US is a good idea to find families who are looking for aupairs.

I think it’s great that you have thought in detail about what your life and interaction with the family and children could look like and that you’ve got a plan in place, esp. around holidays/ celebrations, and I would put that information out there right away so that families can judge and decide how this might fit in with their lifestyle and expectations.

Personally I would be reluctant to take on an aupair that from the outset is determined (for whatever reason! I appreciate where you are coming from, that this is part of your belief system, your upbringing and who you are) not to partake in our traditions and what defines us as a family. I would worry that it will become unclear what constitutes a celebration (a glass of wine at the end of the day because of successful work day/ period?), how it will impact my kids (I expect you to teach my children the values that are important to us) and most of all I would worry that someone with so many restrictions due to their faith will be set in their ways in other aspects as well. I expect anyone who wants to be our aupair to put an emphasis on the cultural exchange, to make an effort and show interest to learn about our way of doing things and to offer a compromise (e.g. join us for some of our celebrations).

With a vegetarian aupair I wouldn’t expect them to eat meat but I would expect that they make being part of the family work (as in: having meals together is important for us, so they will need to find a way to eat what’s on offer and not cook for themselves, while we make an effort to cook meat-free or in a way that makes avoiding the meat easy for them);
with an aupair of another faith I would hope they want to at least join us once for our church service, out of interest/ in the name of tolerance and research (while we make an effort to help them so they can be active in their religious group/ congregation);
with someone who traditionally doesn’t celebrate Christmas I would expect them to show interest in our way of doing things, ask questions, discuss the differences but partake as a member of the family.

OP July 23, 2017 at 9:55 pm

Im getting quite optimistic because you are right, there is a lid for every pot!

Just to clarify, it is not celebration in general what I wish to not do. It is very specific holidays: christmas and christmas eve, birthdays, thanksgiving, 4th of july, easter, halloween, valentine’s day, mother and father’s day, new year and new years eve.

The way I see it is that you could get someone set in their ways no matter what religion you pick, and even without any religion, and I agree that kids should be taught whatever you, as a parent, want. I would have no problem doing so. However I wouldn’t feel comfortable going to another church, but showing interest and asking questions/discussing would be totally ok.

kat July 25, 2017 at 1:35 pm

would that be a common thing in the US, hoping for an aupair to attend at least one church service to see what its like? i have been to church /as a no religion person/ with families but most of other aupairs wouldnt be interested at all. to me that sounds quite… not sure what word to use strong/pushy/ too religious. i guess it comes from how religion is accepted/felt as a part of life in different parts of the world. my impression is that religion is a lot more important in the US then in Europe in general, let alone post-communkst countries.

Mimi July 25, 2017 at 2:55 pm

We attend church weekly and invite our APs to holiday church services with us as a matter of courtesy, but don’t expect them to attend. We have had APs join us for family church celebrations (baptisms of our kids, first communions, church picnics, etc.) but we don’t expect it and don’t schedule them to work those occasions so they don’t feel obligated or pressured. We usually have a family gathering at our home after the church service so they would be able to participate in the event outside the church. Our APs who have attended church at home have typically attended (more sporadically) here. Whether they attend regularly or not, many have commented that they are curious about what is the same or what is different from home and we leave it up to them to see if they want to find out.

NZ HM July 25, 2017 at 7:41 pm

This is what I tried to get at – being curious about the similarities and the differences. I wouldn’t expect anyone to attend a church service with us. I was more thinking back to when I was younger and had sleepovers at a friend’s house who went to church on Friday evenings with her family. I went along even though it was not my church. Partly because they couldn’t just leave me at home by myself (though I could have gone over to their house after the service), partly because I wanted to go and see what it’s like.
That’s what I would hope for in an aupair: to be open and interested, to ask questions and maybe even to want to see for themselves rather than dismissing the experience outright.

AuPair Paris July 26, 2017 at 4:40 am

Yes – I am an atheist, but I like church – I’ve been in so many choirs and I’m a lit student who loves the stories! I would love to AP with a family that invited me to their church, but would feel very uncomfortable with a family that insisted on it, as I would be unsure of motives and would feel that, if church was an absolute moral necessity for them, for whatever reason, they were probably judging me on various other religious differences without saying so.

This would not be the case if they said “you absolutely must come to church because we need a chaperone in the children’s service while we parents go to the adults’ service” or similar though – the difference between enforced working hours and enforced religious observance!

Taking a Computer Lunch July 23, 2017 at 9:51 pm

As someone who grew up with JW neighbors (and to be quite honest, always felt a little sad for the kids), it would be hard for me to match with the AP who drew the line at celebrating. While I understand that Thanksgiving has religious connotations, to my (non-religious) family it is a feast – we make labor-intensive foods and share the meal together. We encouraged (now that we’re past the hosting experience) all of our APs to make a favorite – and therefore familiar – food. If you could not see it past a celebration to a cultural experience and shut yourself in your room (because where else are you going to eat on Thanksgiving?) then that would make me – and my kids – sad.) As for Christmas, as a Jewish family – you could do what we do and eat Chinese food.

I’m sort of joking, but mostly not. Were I still able to host, I would not select you for the same reasons we chose not to host orthodox Jewish APs – too many rules. I loved, loved, loved hosting APs because they made my life easier – not because hosting APs was cheaper than other forms of childcare. As the mom of a child with special needs, I did my best to create a safe space from which my APs could safely launch their adulthood, experiment being away from the judgment of family, and figure out what was important to them. As the mom of a child with special needs, the last thing I needed was to host an AP who sucked my bandwith of hosting with rules that made it difficult for me to work or enjoy life at home with my family.

There will be a lot of HF who only want an employer-employee relationship – they won’t want to invite you to their Christmas celebration, their Easter vacation, and they won’t care if you celebrate Halloween. They might be perfectly happy if you’re willing to work a child’s birthday party without celebrating the birthday. Your task will be to figure out if that would actually fit your needs. If it would, then be up front and say, “I just want to be an employee – I’m not looking for a cultural experience.”

kat July 25, 2017 at 1:40 pm

” I did my best to create a safe space from which my APs could safely launch their adulthood, experiment being away from the judgment of family, and figure out what was important to them”
that a great view of hosting APs!

NJ Mom July 24, 2017 at 9:45 am

As long as you are upfront about it with potential host families, I don’t see this being a problem. I would have something on your profile giving a general statement of you not celebrating or participating in any holidays, then go into details during conversations. I would skip any families that don’t discuss this with you during matching. I really don’t see this as an issue if it’s brought up and thoughtfully considered during matching (similar to diets, allergies, medical conditions, etc). Some families prefer during holidays to host their family/friends while the AP watches the kids (rather than the AP participating as a family member), and I don’t think you’ll have problems finding the right family.

HMAdvice July 24, 2017 at 10:22 am

First of all I am glad that you are up front and honest about this. That goes a long way for consideration in my book but I think it really depends on the family. I agree with the comments about the better fit being the families that are looking more for an “employee” and believe me there are a lot of these types of families out there. As a host family, we enjoy learning about new traditions from our au pairs and I think it would be hard on my kids if we had an au pair that didn’t want to participate in our traditions. So while you may not be a candidate for our family, I wouldn’t count out your chances for finding a family that would suit you.

Anna July 24, 2017 at 10:57 am

I would probably consider you but as a last resort.
It is hard for me to find the right person for our family, and I am willing to relax some of my requirements and standards. However yours would be difficult to bear.

We are Orthodox Jews, but contrary to popular belief, many of our rules depend on the situation, and we consult with a rabbi for guidance in complicated cases. For example when attending an event that is not in line with your religion, there are other commandments to consider – the ones regarding relationships with people. Depending on the closeness of the relationship, and the effect your actions would have, there may be different answers, and different answers on what constitutes “participation”. So in your case, every Friday night we sit down to a nice dinner in honor of our Sabbath. To us it is a weekly celebration, but also a nice family meal where we talk and enjoy our family. If every meal you are hiding in your room and then coming to pick at leftovers, this will wear on us and create hard feelings with time. It is a celebration to us, but it is a regular weekly one, and why cannot it be a meal to you and part of your obligation to create and nurture relationship with us and our kids? And frankly not being excited about my little daughter’s birthday would offend her and ruin her respect for you. Every au pair is different and we don’t share the language, the culture, and many other things; but what makes it work for us are some shared fundamental values. While belief in one G-d and shared belief in what is right and wrong are the most important ones, when I think about it the cadence of time and celebrations and differences between holy and ordinary days are such a part of our living that it may be one of those values that are fundamental. By not understanding it and not at least giving it a respectful nod with our kids, you will never be able to be close to us the way other au pairs were.

Should be working July 24, 2017 at 5:31 pm

Someday I’d love to see a post from Anna about how it is to have an AP as an Orthodox Jewish family–explaining the rules, dealing with differences and possible misinformation and misunderstanding, how different APs have reacted, etc.

AuPair Paris July 26, 2017 at 4:45 am

Yes – I’d like to see this too – how various au pairs have reacted and how you screen for open-mindedness about religion! Or do you generally host Jewish au pairs (even if not orthodox – they may have more of a sense of the rules, even if those rules are not followed).

Also, how flexible is it? For example, can a non-Jewish au pair turn the lights on and off in your home on the sabbath? Can they do that for their own use, or would it be ok for them to do it if they saw you struggling (having forgotten to set things up as needed before the sabbath for example)? If they could do that, would you be able to ask them to do it, or would they just need to notice? Or are you too well-prepared and used to it for those scenarios?

Hopefully these questions aren’t offensive, I’m just interested in cultures I don’t know well.

DMMom July 24, 2017 at 11:09 am

We enjoy celebrating with our Au Pairs, and I couldn’t see it working well with my 3 young children. Their birthdays, their holiday programs, the general excitement and magic in the air from Oct-Jan not shared… would not be a good fit at our house.

I think that for good or bad, to most people in the US celebrations are a big deal. We decorate our house for weeks ahead, we have special treats and foods, the kids do special crafts and concerts, etc. (New Years Eve, Valentines, Easter, May Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas + birthdays). For example: If you take your host kid to story time at the library you might hear a story about Easter and the craft might be coloring Easter Eggs… how will you deal with that situation? I wouldn’t want my 2 year old to miss, and they can’t attend alone….

You will have to be very upfront from the beginning and wait for the right family who shares the same beliefs. I am sure that they are out there too.

Mimi July 24, 2017 at 3:22 pm

We have learned through experience that restrictions (religious, dietary, and otherwise) are a no-go for us. We don’t host just because of the care our APs provide; we also do it for the cultural and familial exchange. We look for APs who don’t see this as a job, but rather as a life experience and an opportunity to explore and immerse themselves in something new. We celebrate many occasions as a family (not particularly national or religious holidays) and while we don’t expect our APs to join every celebration, the lack of participation does not suit our family dynamic.

In theory, what you describe is likely something some non-JW families might embrace, but in practice, it may be harder to exist in a household with worldly people. I would encourage you to look for JW families and when interviewing with prospective host families make sure you discuss their parenting philosophies. Beliefs regarding child rearing and core values (including religious values) will tell you if you will be a good fit and can coexist with the other restrictions you described in place.

Aspie Mom July 24, 2017 at 6:53 pm

Our family wouldn’t see that as a problem. We think it is fine for an au pair to celebrate with us, but due to our work hours, holidays and days off are the best time for our au pair to travel. We also would definitely not want our au pair to feel like they would NEED to be with us on holidays when it might be outside work hours. I think each event would deserve a conversation about how much participation is warranted. I understand some families have their celebrations woven through their culture, but not all American families are that way.

I do think it is important for you to clearly state your preferences in your letter and in the section about religion because it sounds like this is a hard requirement for you.

DCmom July 25, 2017 at 11:53 am

Honestly, anyone “too religious” would not be a fit with our atheist/agnostic family. I grew up Catholic, so non-practicing Christians are acceptable and Sunday services only Christians would be ok. However, an au pair that would insist on observing more than this would likely be a no-go because we don’t want that influence on our toddlers when they’re not able to question/analyze beliefs or they would simply be too annoying in asking “why” are we saying that some people have religious beliefs and we don’t share them. I will fully admit we’re on the liberal side of the spectrum, so the intersection between politics and religion would also create issues with the adults (such as abortion).

optout July 25, 2017 at 2:44 pm

To me a cultural exchange is about challenging boundaries, and about finding ways to maximally participate without compromising personal values — deciding a priori what you will and will not do with a family doesn’t sound very open to me.

HRHM July 28, 2017 at 9:13 am

I would also say, you might want to steer your search toward families (assuming they are NOT JW) with older kids. My 13 year old would not have a problem understanding that your religion prohibits you getting her a card or gift at her birthday or Christmas and wouldn’t allow you to accept one either. She’d think it was weird and probably feel bad for you missing out, but she’d be fine. My 9 year old would be destroyed no matter how carefully we explained the situation.

Too many kids July 29, 2017 at 4:02 am

Before we joined the AP program our kids went to a home daycare where the caretakers were JW. The two women were/are fabulous care givers. They never imposed their views on us. They also never celebrated holidays or birthdays. It didn’t bother me in the least. I still send them a Christmas card with my annual letter and they always text to say hello and that they enjoyed the letter. I don’t expect them to say Merry Christmas just like I don’t expect my best friend who is Jewish to say it.

During matching, JW wouldn’t bother me. My APs almost never attend HK birthdays and typically plan trips during holidays. We invite them to all of these events and we operate more as a family rather than employee/employer relationship. Our experience is that APs want to explore and hang with friends. Which is similar to my teenage nieces and nephews who are obviously obligated to join and they are bored to tears. :)

I would only have a problem if you tried to force your religion on me which it sounds like you would not do.

Good Luck. Just be as upfront and honest as possible and I have no doubts you will find a host family.

txmom August 4, 2017 at 11:16 pm

I don’t think it would work for us. One of the best parts of hosting is sharing culture and family traditions, and in our family, holidays play a big part. Our AP is also considered a member of the family and we would definitely feel like part of our family was missing if she wasn’t at the table for Thanksgiving dinner or wasn’t opening stockings at 5am on Christmas morning. OP – you seem like you really want to make this work. Good luck in finding a family that is right for you.

Anonymous in CA August 5, 2017 at 10:51 am

JW would totally work for us as long as expectations are clear from the outset. In my tired (and perhaps cynical moments), the idea of not feeling compelled to make a good showing on Thanksgiving or Christmas is appealing – it would be a relief to me actually. The number of times I’ve gone to extensive lengths to show an AP traditional American holidays, only to realize she’s utterly uninterested and would prefer to spend the day off out with friends, she shows up late (on Christmas morning!!), and high tails it out with her friends right as soon as possible…. I’d be totally fine with an AP who said she didn’t want to participate. Just set the appropriate expectations up front.

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