Why do we find it so hard to stick to our guns when an au pair asks us to bend our rules?
None of us wants to seem petty, or stingy, or selfish. On the contrary– we want to be generous where we can, we want to reward au pairs who do a great job and we want to keep happy the au pairs who bring warmth and good humor into our homes.
So why is it that, if we’ve made our rules and principles perfectly clear, we get flustered when an au pair makes a request the goes full tilt against what we’ve said is possible?
What’s really going on here? The au pair’s request seems outrageous. The host mom’s principles are sound, and her logic is exhaustive. So what’s really going on here?
We are very happy with our current au pair, and she has shown herself to be a safe drier. Despite the fact that we write in our handbook that our car is not to be used for “road trips,” she asked the other day of she and an au pair friend could use it to go to California from our western state. It’s a 2,500 mile round-trip (40 hours of driving)! I explained to her that she might not understand how large the United States is and that we would need to discuss more later. We haven’t yet sat down to discuss it, but her request has been bothering me ever since.
I feel like I need to mull over ALL of the reasons why I’m against the idea, and consider whether there are any other options. I’d really love to hear about host families (and au pairs) who might have addressed this issue themselves.
[cv: One thing to note: this is the family’s extra car– a car they only have because they have an au pair. ]
For background, here’s what I have in our host family handbook, in the section on using the host family car:
You cannot take a “road trip” using our car.
Here is why:
To you, taking our car for a road trip costs you gas money and possibly up to $500 for an insurance deductible if there is an accident.
However, for us, there are many other risks and expenses:
- The wear and tear on a car
- Every mile driven uses up the tires, oil, transmission, engine, clutch, etc. and depreciates the value
- The cost of use of a vehicle averages $0.56 per mile.
- If there is an accident there are many factors that we have to deal with:
- The hassle of going through the insurance claim processes
- Inconvenience of being without a car while car is repaired (or having to buy a new one)
- Dealing with the police, repair shop, and insurance company is tiresome and frustrating
- Our car insurance rates will increase substantially and for many years
- An accident uses up benefits like accident forgiveness and safe driving bonuses
- We can also be sued personally for accidents and injuries that may occur which can cost us time, money, worry and trauma.
- What if there is a mechanical problem with the car?
- Who will be responsible for paying for the repair or getting the car checked out? For example, if the “check engine” light turns on and there is a repair bill and/or bill to tow the car to a repair shop (or home)? What if there is a flat tire? Who will change it and purchase a new tire?
- Inconvenience of being without a car while repairs are made
There are costs that come back to the owner of the vehicle regardless of the driver:
- Parking tickets
- The police will hold the owner of the car responsible for accidents and tickets even if you did not know about it
- We can be personally sued in court for injuries and damages you cause while driving our car
Additionally, it is more likely that an accident will occur if you are not familiar with the area in which you are driving.
It is not usually possible to rent a car in the U.S. (Michigan and New York are exceptions, but even then it is VERY expensive) if you are under 25. However, there are many options for travel to see the USA via various Au Pair travel organizations. Here are a few: www.grandamericanadventures.com www.Aupairadventures.com, www.chiways.com Cultural Hi-Ways www.trekamerica.com
I know it’s not a holiday-themed post, but I would be interested to see how other families have handled this topic.~ hostmominco