Tell your AuPair stories to a Journalism Student

by cv harquail on February 5, 2010

… who contacted me as part of her research. This NYU graduate journalism student is looking to speak with current and former au pairs, and families who have lived with au pairs (either currently or in the past), about their experiences for a series of pieces over the next couple of months. Email for more information.


Anonymous February 6, 2010 at 4:50 pm

I would have been excited to cooperate with this before I read an article last Wednesday or Thursday in the New York Times
titled ” How to Speak Nanny “. Not only did the article make the employers look like absolute fools, it generated an enormous verbal
online firestorm of comments from readers almost all of which were very critical of the parents who employ nannies. All I could think was ” thank God they don’t know who I am or anything about me”.
Most of us have enough problems trying to be good parents without being ridiculed by the New York Times and trashed by totalstrangers. I would now be terrified to to participate in such an opportunity.

CV February 6, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Here’s the article Anon is referring to:

CV February 6, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Hi Anon-
I missed that article… if I’d seen it I’d probably have had a reaction similar to yours. It is not really possible to vet a journalist you don’t already know, and I sure have been burned in my time by being quoted incompletely and having been intentionally misconstrued. But, since I myself already talked with this student, it’s too late for me!
Why I feel responsible to convey the positive side of hosting an au pair I don’t know….but there we have it.

Anonymous February 6, 2010 at 5:51 pm

I think we have an enormous need and desire to communicate with each other the joys and challenges of hosting someone from another country. In many cases, it is life changing ; at the very least , it is a significant experience for us as well as for our children and hopefully for the aupair.
I want to suggegst another book, Host Family by Maeve Medved. I would love to hear reactions.

Hannah February 7, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Hi. I’m the Journalism student who asked CV to post the request.

In defense of my request: I am looking to speak to au pairs and host families for precisely the opposite reason as articulated above. I believe that there has been quite a bit of negative publicity towards mothers who employ childcare professionals–particularly nannies–in the press, and am looking to learn more and ideally be able to present a much more balanced depiction.

In addition, as far as I am aware, the bulk of the reporting (and finger-wagging) has been directed towards the nanny-employer relationship, whereas the au pair community has been largely ignored. From what I can glean, the decision to host an au pair is strikingly different from the decision to hire a nanny– the au pair is welcomed into the home and brings a cross-cultural dimension to the childcare that most nannies don’t. Speaking with CV was extremely enlightening for me, and reinforced my interest in learning about the au pair community.

In any case, even if there is not much interest in my project, I would caution you not to group all journalists in the same camp. There are a broad range of journalists and journalistic practices, as in any profession, and telling your story can often be a way to learn from and connect with other people.

AnnaAuPair February 8, 2010 at 6:20 am

@ Hannah: Do you want to speak to AuPairs personally? Because I would love to answer questions, but I finished my year already, so I’m not in the US anymore.

Hannah February 8, 2010 at 10:59 am

@AnnaAuPair: I’d love to talk to you! Want to shoot me an email ( and we can talk further? Thanks!

Anonymous February 8, 2010 at 1:51 pm

I read the aforementioned article and I really don’t see anything wrong with it. A lot of us ARE reluctant or fearful of directly telling our AP what to do and how to do it, mainly because we fear damaging the relationship to the detriment of our kids. I know I’m totally in that boat. And I think the reccomendation to put stuff in writing (household handbook anyone?) and have weekly sit-downs is right on target.
Many of us are career women with a lot of responsibility but that doesn’t help with the psychological baggage that comes with being a Mom – in fact, it probably makes it harder for us.

PA Mom February 10, 2010 at 2:58 am


I would be happy to speak to you about my experience hosting an au-pair. I have had a successful 1 year and 10 months with my Thai au-pair in which see would also be willing to communicate via skype or phone. I have also had my share of a not so good au-pair from Germany that just left. I usually host two girls at one time.

chithu, au pair in london February 11, 2010 at 5:21 pm

I think the article is brilliant. It tries to improve the communication channels between employers and nannies, and the experiences highlighted happen in every new Mom-nanny r’ship. I fail to see how it is portraying HMs as “fools”. These are real women in real situations… surely such an established paper will not use false interviews? And this article is about nannies, not au pairs – very big difference!

sarah May 25, 2010 at 12:56 pm

i think au pairing is dangerous!!i heard a story about a man that wanted to sleep with the au pair girl when his wife has travelled!!

FormerSwissAupair May 25, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Sarah, I think that is one of the biggest stories out there. I have been an AP for 3 years, and a nanny for 2, and I can tell you, this RARELY happens. So, I would not use this as an excuse not to become an AP. :)

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