Traveling Together — Managing your Au Pair’s independence and Safety

by cv harquail on January 18, 2011

Dear AuPairMom Readers– I would love the input of some other host families regarding our upcoming cruise vacation with our Au Pair. We have never done a vacation like this with an AP and I am concerned about how best to make it work.

Going along on the cruise are me (Host Mom), my husband, our two boys (9 and 6), our Au Pair (age 20) and my mother. Our Au Pair will be sharing a suite with my mother. The cruise is 7 days plus a day before and a day after in San Juan.
And his voice had the sound of water leaving a vaseline bathtub
We have talked at length with our AP about what our expectations are regarding her work duties, i.e. helping out with the kids at mealtimes, bed time, etc.

Our dilemma is what to do about her personal time.

We intend to give her plenty of time to explore the ship and islands on her own, without the kids, if she chooses. The issue becomes: How do we balance our sense of responsibility with her independence?

We want to make sure that she understands the need to be back on the ship on time and what potential safety issues exist, but we don’t want her to feel like we are smothering her.

Suggestions?

See also:

It’s YOUR vacation, not hers. Okay?
How to Handle Costs for a Ski Vacation: Who should pay for what?

image: by ce matin, un lapin

{ 28 comments }

Should be working January 18, 2011 at 8:26 am

I shudder in recollection of the things I did when I was a teenager on a family cruise. When my parents caught me being chatted up by one of the cooks, on deck at night alone (totally romantic scenario), I was forbidden to be alone on deck at night. Good call! And was I furious at the time. Smoked weed in the disco, turned down other drugs. Older guys invited me to ‘parties’ in their suites, fortunately I did not go. (I looked a lot older than 15.) Once my father was gaming in the casino and two guys (obviously over 21) started talking about the hot girl they’d met, and at some point my first name was mentioned. My father stood up, glared, and said, “You are talking about my TEENAGE daughter!” (They never spoke to me again.) Did engage in some (fairly chaste) romantic action. And this was absolutely a FAMILY cruise, ship loaded with FAMILIES, and I had a curfew and I think my parents thought I was well supervised.

Maybe times have changed, and cruises have changed, and hopefully your AP is more mature and experienced than I was 30 yrs ago. But at least back then the feel among the younger people (all there with parents) was of wild opportunity for transgression. I would recommend you consider exactly what is ok for her to do (stay out all night? get drunk–she’s not driving? date?) and what is not.

Have fun! hehehehe.

Anon-former-aupair January 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

This is the first time I’m posting here after having silently read this page for a few months.
Should be working, I really hope your AuPair is more mature than a 15 year old! I would be very sorry for you if not and would wonder why you’re keeping her.

In general, I often wonder why your AuPairs are all so immature…. Neither I nor my friends behaved like some of you describe your AuPairs here and I cannot remember being micromanaged so much and still, everything went fine with my hostfamily. Although I was 19 at the time I started my AuPair year (of course, I see some things different now and would behave in other ways now, but that’s another story), I was very aware that it was a job and I tried carefully not to be an additional child for my hostfamily.

When I went on a ten day vacation with my hostfamily, we had not talked much about it prior to our departure. The only thing I knew was that I would be working about 8 hours each day, especially in the evenings. And guess what? It all worked out fine!
Please, if you trust your AuPair enough to care for your kids, why do you not trust her to be alone on a cruise for a few hours? Don’t you think that your AuPair knows that it is important to be back on time? And if she chooses to have a little “fun”, it is not your business as long as your kids don’t see it. By what right do you want to forbid your AuPair to date????
But maybe I am a bit too optimistic and assume that every AuPair is responsible and mature like my friends and I were (and maybe it’s the culture as well)….

PA AP mom January 18, 2011 at 11:13 am

I am the “original poster”. I do trust my AP. Notice I said I want to make sure she has plenty of “free time” to explore both the ship and the islands.

This particular AP is WONDERFUL with the kids. She treats them like her little brothers and takes great care of them. That said, at times she is a little “flighty”. She often runs late for things or forgets them entirely unless I specifically make a list.

I am not worried about her having a “romantic” encounter on the cruise. That is totally her own business. I don’t butt into her social life at home and I do not intend to do so on the cruise.

That said, our au pair is also very naive. She trusts people, even when she shouldn’t sometimes. I am worried about someone else talking her into doing something she wouldn’t do on her own or getting herself into a situation she isn’t equipped to handle.

As a former AP (anon, above), I would value your advice on what I should say and how regarding potential safety issues. I do not plan to mention anything regarding dating/clubbing. That isn’t even an issue in my mind.

used to be an AP January 18, 2011 at 2:42 pm

First of all, I agree with Anon-former-au pair. I started to read this blog a few months ago and I post occansionally. I sometimes really am at a loss when I read stories about APs who are so immature that they have to be micro managed so much. (I’ve also been wondering if this is some kind of self-fullfilling prophecy, once you start micro managing an AP, that will be neccessary the rest of the year). On the other, there were some very immature APs in my cluster but they largely kept to themselves.

Anyway, regarding PA AP mom’s follow-up question. Maybe you could just tell your AP that you are aware of the fact that she is an adult, but there are just a few things you’d like to talk about before the vacation and that the things you are telling her are things her own parents would probably tell her as well, just to make sure and out of concern. You could also use a “frame narration”, e.g. tell the AP that you told someone you know about the cruise and that someone then told a story about her first cruise. You could use Should be working’s story (if she’s ok with it). Technically you did tell her and she told you a story, you don’t have to mention it was on this website. Just tell your AP what happened and in the end mention something like “well, she was 15, so a lot younger than you are. I’m sure you know better”. This will probably give the AP something to think about without feeling smothered.

Host mom January 18, 2011 at 4:09 pm

1st, we took a cruised with our 20 year old au pair last year. We love her (she has since finished her year and returned home) and she was great with our kids! The first night we explained the boat waits for no one, made sure she understood time differences between ports and to be as careful of her personal safety as she would when going to a disco in her home country with friends. She def. understood that analogy and had an amazing trip – and we (husband, kids and I) had a wonderful time too. It was a family vacation where I actually felt rested!! Novel concept as a mom. I think if you have a good relationship with her (and it sounds like you do) just make sure she understands the basics of safe crusing, and remember that at the end of the day, she is a young adult living halfway around the world from friends and family, working in a foreign country, speaking a foreing language and doing a good job! I’m sure she is capable of managing herself on the trip and providing you with the extra set of hands to truly enjoy your vacation too!

I love what Used to be posted about setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy. We had 5 au pairs, all young, from different countries, different childcare experiences, different levels of English, and all have been good au pairs. Each have had their own areas of strength and own challenges (as any nanny, sitter or childcare provider does), but have been willing to learn, grow and excel in their role of saving my sanity so I can get my job done. I think our family assumes intelligence, goodwill and bravery (they are making a big leap coming here for a year) and have not been disappointed. I know there are horror stories out there, and we are fortunate not to have experienced anything crazy, but are incredibly happy with the overall experience our family has had, and in the life long relationships we have formed.

Calif Mom January 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm

I was drawn to the AP program because I figured that a young adult woman who would be brave enough to make that leap for an entire year would have a sense of adventure and be a great role model for my girls.

I give points for goodwill–and that’s the reason I was willing to give a second chance this fall, when the Nag-a-Thon was in full swing–but at some point, trying is not enough. There must be competence and a certain level of leadership in order to be a great au pair. Maybe you have exceptional talent in hiring. (There may be a cottage business there!)

For example, if I had not been teleworking today, I am confident that there would have been several hours of wii on this unexpected day off from school, instead of a walk in the neighborhood, even though HD made this very clear before leaving the house, and I happened to come out to the kitchen and was immediately hounded about tv. There needs to be a willingness to say “Let’s go!” — and actually be dressed–rather than being okay with saying to me “Well, Kid #2 said she doesn’t want to.”

It’s not a democracy, and kids need to be led, not followed.

I’ve had those great au pairs who made my life so much easier and my kids so much happier, too, but it’s definitely not a 100% success rate.

I do NOT start out micromanaging my au pairs. I give them guidelines and boundaries, and leave the minutiae to them. Except when they show me they can’t make decisions on their own.

Self-fulfilling prophecy? not in my experience. My biggest failures (besides the flameout who was a fraud) have been over-confident young women who were spoiled and/or overly controlled by their own moms and look to me for the same.

AFHostmom January 19, 2011 at 4:38 pm

I very much agree with Calif Mom. We made some mistakes in the beginning as HPs, but they were definitely on the side of “too liberal” vs. “too naggy.”
Here’s something to think about….as has been said before, APs often get a chance to frankly discuss, offline and in person, their experience with their fellow APs. We host parents, at least in MY area, never get such a chance. I have never had a sit-down with a current HP because I simply don’t know anyone who is using the program right now, and I don’t have the emails of the other parents in my cluster, unlike my AP, who has all of her peers’ contact info. Not a complaint, I’m just saying this is an outlet for us to get out the little things in a space where they can be read by other people who can relate. Also, I personally found this site while searching for resources during the great dishwasher debate of 2010, which almost broke my relationship with my AP. I wanted to see if I was being fair, and I was relieved to find out that what I was asking (please unload the dishwasher 3 times a week and if you dirty dishes during the day and simply CANNOT bring yourself to unload, hand-wash them. And under no circumstances should you and your friends leave a pile of dirty dishes by the sink because the stinkin dishwasher was full and you were too lazy/stubborn/other adjective to pitch in)was pretty typical. My point is that many readers have probably gotten here as a result of a similar issue on which they wanted a second opinion.

Should be working January 19, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Responding to Calif Mom, I would say that my biggest dilemma this time around with selection is the criterion of leadership. Our most recent AP was a leader for sure, which was good at getting kids to do lots of things. But she was also very bossy, with them and us, and sometimes b*tchy in her bossiness. For the next AP we have someone in view so far who is kind, patient and sociable, and very peaceful in character. I’m a little worried that she won’t have that go-get-’em quality of the previous AP, but I’m also ready for someone less bossy. This probably belongs under CV’s post about the ‘contrast effect’, but as Calif Mom’s post suggests, “leadership” can sometimes be accompanied by “overconfidence”. And non-dominance could possibly be accompanied by ineffectiveness. In screening, however, it’s just hard to know what you’re really getting and how to separate out these closely related qualities.

Eurogirl January 18, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I have never been on a cruise, but when I did take trips with families I au paired for, they were the ones on holiday – I was working! That’s the point. Yes I did have some free time to explore and/or take part in activities of my own (ski and snowboard lessons, for example, on a ski trip). I greatly appreciated that as the holidays were in places I probably would never have gone on my my own bat – too expensive, for example, especially the skiing trips. On one holiday there were several families and one of my au pair friends was there too, that was great as we spent one or two evenings out on our own, went to a couple of bars, had a good night, and the other nights we were babysitting either seperately or together. Make sure your au pair knows that while you want her to enjoy the trip, it is work for her and holiday for you!

And I would think a cruise is probably quite a safe holiday as it’s contained? But never having been on one, I can’t say for sure…and I can see that Should Be Working certainly had a wilder experience than I thought cruises could be! Haha!

Taking a Computer Lunch January 18, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Having never been on a cruise, I can’t speak to helping an AP enjoy her down time without ending up in a position she can’t escape. However, my family does travel to Las Vegas all the time, and my parents warn our APs about date rape drugs before they head off for an evening on the town and then say, “Hold on to your drink and don’t accept a drink from anyone.” While I would hope that a family cruise is safer than Sin City, that warning perhaps carries a good safety tip, “Take care of yourself.”

I once had a long ferry trip made a couple of days longer by a bad January storm. When one of the guys on the ferry hit on my, I responded by throwing up on his feet. And while the misery of seasickness kept me down for most of the voyage, it did keep me safe from a situation I wasn’t equipped to handle. That being said, a cruise ship is not a ferry, and certainly has more security staff in place. Familiarize yourself with it, and educate your au pair about what is available – after all she might need it if she’s responsible for taking the kids swimming or to a movie. And that way, she’ll know what is available to her when she enjoys her down time. She won’t have to feel that you’re over-protective and you won’t have to feel that she’s over her head.

Gianna January 18, 2011 at 5:49 pm

I am glad CV referenced that older post ” It’s Your Vacation, Not Hers, Remember”.
That was a very sad story of a nice host mother who just didn’t specify the rules clearly enough because she was trying so hard to be a good person. I think that most aupairs are very responsible but being away from home can be very intoxicating and a cruise ship is a little bit close to heaven. So, I don’t think it is such a bad idea to cite rules ahead of time. After all , if something unfortunate happens due to indiscretion, I would not want to have to explain the situation to an aupair’s parents at home. Even host parents like to lighten up and do things on vacation that they might not do at home. And sometimes the people you meet on vacation are a little more adventurous than they would be under different circumstances.

BLJ Host Mom January 18, 2011 at 6:09 pm

I tell my AP safety type things all the time regarding our local area. “Just so you know, if you are headed to that side of town, don’t park on the street, or walk North of this street alone after dark”. Etc.

I think it is perfectly reasonable to say, “Just be ready, there are pick pockets, and different ppl who want your money or will take you for a ride, etc, and it isn’t safe”. Say that these were things you didn’t know when you were her age. Just tell her that you are telling her all these things so that she can have fun and you don’t want her to end up losing her purse/money/camera, that type of thing.

Talk about the time differences and say that you personally always try to get back to the ship an hour before necessary because of how crowded it is at “call time”. It sounds like even in her flightiness, she will pay attention to things that matter, and I don’t think she will think you are micromanaging her.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 18, 2011 at 11:24 pm

One of the issues I have, is how does one warn APs without prejudicing them?

In her first week here, my current AP did not come to me for advice when her friend wanted a steak, and the two of them ended up at a Mickey D’s on the wrong side of town (for two European APs) and ended up having a confrontation. Now, I had said to me, “Please come to me for a recommendation” just that evening and she had not. I had also said, “Some neighborhoods are not particularly safe after dark.” And so, my AP and her friend were left to manage their confrontation, which, being adults, they handled well enough. However, now certain prejudices are reinforced. Not exactly what I had hoped for their “Welcome to America.”

My goal was not to have my AP be afraid of this particular neighborhood, which has great things to offer in ethnic shops and restaurants – if one is not afraid to step out of bounds from familiar territory. And now she is, but she also will resist encounters from people from a particular racial background (unlike many of my previous APs who flung themselves headfirst into this “territory”).

And the bottom line is – how I acclimate my APs to different American cultures will necessarily inform my typically developing child in how to deal with them.

hOstCDmom January 19, 2011 at 12:09 am

TACL, this is indeed a tricky area — thank you for raising this difficult issue.

[CV- this might merit its own post sometime…??].

I feel strongly that one doesn’t want to make statements about a part of town/neighborhood that would make an AP unfamiliar or lacking prior, significant experience with the racial or ethnic group in that neighborhood draw incorrect conclusions – i.e. HP is concerned for AP’s safety and tells AP that the Alpha district is not safe at night, don’t park there/don’t walk alone there….or even just “be very alert when in the Alpha district” and then AP learns/sees that the residents of Alpha district are primarily of the green race or purple ethnic group, causing her to develop or reinforce prejudices, and draw the conclusion that green race/purple ethnic group = unsafe, dangerous, misogynist, theiving people.

Yet, we all know that there are parts of any city in which the risks to a young woman’s safety are greater than others, and some in which these risks are quite significant, and thus we want to inform and prepare our APs, but at the same time not cause them to make sweeping associations or see a nexus between race and negative attributes where there is not one.

With a few APs I’ve gone so far as to say Alpha district can be dangerous for young women at night, and you may notice that many people in Alpha district are green, ***but it isn’t the fact that they are green that makes it unsafe***, rather many of the people in Alpha district live below the poverty line, are out of work, have not had the advantages of education that young people in our part of town have had, etc., and thus life is much harder and rougher there. This means that there is a street life in the evening/community dynamic quite different from in our neighborhood and you should be very aware of what is going on around you so that you don’t find yourself in an unexpected, or unsafe, situation…..

….but even as I type this it rings hollow to me and doesn’t read with the nuance I genuinely want to convey to my APs….and it probably still has high potential to cause the AP to conclude that there is a nexus between green or purple or blue people and danger….

And a prejudiced AP may be wont to make remarks reflecting her prejudices (new, or newly reinforced, prejudices based on her experiences in America) to Host Children….and this is not the input I want my children to have from their live in, role model, childcare provider.

Seasoned Host Mom January 19, 2011 at 12:06 pm

hOstCDmom,

I don’t think your explanation rings hollow at all. It is the socioeconomic reality, and the factors other than race that you mention are, in fact, what generally makes an area unsafe, no matter what the race of the people living there.

TaCL, maybe one of the things you can do during the year with an au pair who has become prejudiced against a certain race would be to look for opportunities to expose her to respected, successful members of that race so that she can see that there is definitely a flip side to the coin and question her own prejudices a bit.

AFHostmom January 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm

I’d love to see a post on the race/prejudice issue. Our AP went from a small homogenous German village to the DC area, with a biracial/bi-religious family. The first time we touch her to a (insert minority religion) event, she tried to handle it well, but ended up asking if we could leave because she thought we were attracting too much attention (simply by our presence). Obviously given our family make-up we fancy ourselves to be very open to other lifestyles. She’s mostly doing a good job, but I’m curious how other families have handled prejudices.

AFHostmom January 19, 2011 at 4:41 pm

sigh, TOOK her, not touch her. 3:30 sugar slump, apparently.

ECMom January 18, 2011 at 10:00 pm

You are brave to take everybody on a cruise. Maybe my kids are younger, but we turned down a free cruise last year because we figured it would be too hard with naps, etc. even if we brought our AP. Anyway, I agree with the poster who said their APs have been mature enough to handle it. I always warn them of things I think they may not know (like “that’s a bad neighborhood over there”) but I assume they are smart enough to handle temptations at bars and whatnot. We always get APs who are over 20 though, so maybe that helps a little bit. Anyway, I’d just have an open discussion about the potential risks that are unique to a cruise ship (like “be careful what you eat!”) and leave the rest up to her.

Good luck and have fun!

And btw, I love this blog. I’ve been reading for a while. I’m on my 4th AP now in 3 years (just had a re-match situation) and still feel like this is the best option for my family. Even the one who didn’t work out was a good girl, just not quite right for us. It’s nice to be able to connect with other host families who can relate. I’m sure you will be seeing more of me around here. :)

PA AP mom January 18, 2011 at 10:46 pm

ECmom:

Our boys are 9 and 6, so beyond nap age. I would be hesitant to do a cruise with a smaller child who still needed naps.

I hope we “see” you around more often.

HRHM January 19, 2011 at 2:51 am

We took AP1 (23) on a cruise and it was a great way to travel with an AP. We offered (and she accepted) for her to do all the day/island excursions with us. It was not a “working” vacation for her but she lent a hand with the girls, just as any family member would. We basically ate dinner together each night (and got family formal pictures take with her, she’d never had portraits done before!) and then she would go off with her friends (mainly other Serbian girls who she found working in the spa) and party til God knows when. But she was ready every morning when it was time to go ashore and we all had a good time.

If she wants to go off the ship without you, I would reccomend travel insurance that will pay to get her to the next island if she misses the ship (or require her to do ship sponsored excursions only) so that you won’t be left paying for an expensive inter-island flight if she misses the departure. Otherwise, she’s old enough to survive without too much intervention (after all she’s made it this long in the US!)

Former Au pair D. January 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Vacation is always an issue. First thing to do is sit down with your au pair and explain everything that is ex[ected from her. Second is giving her a schedule. She has a watch right? She will only forget the time for work if she is irresponsible. And is that’s the case she is not supposed to be taking care of children. But I believe you like her. As longe as you make it clear what you expect, a schedule and (very nice of you) alert her of dangerous situations that may happen if she is naive, there wont be any problem.

Last JUly I went to my ex-host family to the beach. I worked the WHOLE week and I did not have ONE MINUTE to myself. Not even to walk on the beach by myself. I even had to sleep with the kids. As far as I am concerened and Ap is supposed to work 10 hours/day. Not more tha that. But they made me work with no free time at all. I guess they thought that once we were on the beach that was vaca for me too which iswas not true. I had to take care of the kids all the time and follow them wherever they wanted to be. If that was in included on my 10 hrs I wouldnt mind but I just had to work ALL THE TIME. I just stopped to sleep. I was so mad and couldnt wait for those days to be over. Later they compleained I never said THANKs to them For taking me with them. (REALLY? Are they blind?) I was there to work and to vaca, including working more than it’s allowed.

Please dont do that. Just give her a fair schedule and what you want from her. The rest will fine. When Ap and HF respect each other no problem can come between.

TWhostmom January 19, 2011 at 5:08 pm

We struggled with educating our AP about safety issues and vacations. A few months into her year with us she arranged to go out-of-state for the weekend with an older man whom she had just met. We strongly cautioned her against this but she insisted that she was going to be fine. We felt that she was very naive and that she would be at risk. It is not clear what our level of responsibility is as host families – our AP was over age 20 and thus an adult but still kind of in our care. I spoke with the LLC about it and in the end we insisted that she give us info about her trip, the hotel, the man’s cell phone number. We panicked when we tried to reach her at the hotel and discovered that they never checked in. She finally called us to say there were someplace else. She ended up being fine, but she continued to have what we felt were risky relationships with older men through the year. I think it does bring up the issue of what our responsibilities are – my husband and I felt that if something bad had happened to her on that weekend trip, we would be seen as being somehow at fault, yet really what more could we have done about it?

used to be an AP January 19, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Not sure if your question is rhetorical, but there is nothing else you could have done. As you said, she was an adult, you gave the kind of advice that her own parents and friends probably would have given her too. All APs are adults (regardless of how mature they actually are) and are responsible for themselves in the end.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 19, 2011 at 10:08 pm

For the most part, I stay out of my AP’s personal lives. I don’t ask them to tell me where they are or with whom. My one exception is the AP whose driving skills never got past the advanced beginner stage. The few times she asked to have the car out overnight, I asked for the telephone number of the place where she would be staying – just because I thought she was over-confident about her driving ability – and I wanted to know where to call if she didn’t turn up (she was incredibly private and didn’t tell us many details of what she did during her down time so we wouldn’t have a clue where she was if she went off the road).

When DH and I have felt that an AP was engaging in a risky relationship we did not attempt to stop it, but did verbally reinforce the message that we have in our handbook. “If you feel that you are in danger and cannot get to the car to leave, call us, even if it is the middle of the night.” At the end of the day, you should not be expected to keep your AP out of harm’s way every moment of her day. On the other hand, I feel that as HP we should warn them when our nape hairs go up.

NoVA Host Mom January 20, 2011 at 2:04 am

I’m in the group of “never been on a cruise”, but I can speak to the personal safety side of things.

I would strongly suggest a “meet up” time and place daily (like a check-in) after a day exploring on her own. Make her check-in time with you an hour earlier than the boat check-in. If you say she is flighty and constantly late, keep in mind that her missing the boat will impact your childcare schedule until she figures out how to catch up with it (if she can before docking at the end). Do this in the beginning and if she meets with flying colors, then relax it at the end of the week. Sit with her and explain what you expect of her behavior while on the boat (as an example to your children) and what will not be acceptable (like being late for her hours, etc). And keep in mind for yourself, while you are giving her free time, she is there because it is your vacation and she is working during it. Her being able to meet her obligations to you (and her work) comes before her own free time.

And there are “bad areas” in every country and every town. Everywhere. But just because an AP has come to the US does not mean that she is mature enough or even has the common sense enough to handle different situations. We have a new AP coming who was surprised she is going to be able to take the kids for walks in our own neighborhood (much less surrounding neighborhoods). This does not mean we will not be having discussions about what areas I consider acceptable to take the children into or even park our car at night.

PA AP mom January 20, 2011 at 3:38 pm

So, we had the BIG discussion last night.

I had a printed itinerary of the days/times for each port. I mapped out what a “typical” day is. Breakfast on the Lido deck (optional) followed by getting off the ship and onto the islands. She expressed interest in doing the shore excursions with us as a family, except for one day when hubby and I are going to snorkel. We booked them, along with my mother, a nice island tour that hubby and I took before. It is a great tour and I am positive they will have a great time.

We agreed that if she goes “solo” on an island, we will have a meet up time, in our suite, 45 minutes prior to sailing time.

I explained the more “formal” dining room and how dinnertime works. I made it clear that she can choose to go to the dining room with us, or eat elsewhere on her own. Basically, her time on the ship is totally her own. She can do whatever she pleases.

I showed her a virtual online tour of the ship. She said she is very excited for our “family vacation”.

Thanks to all who provided advice.

Anon-former-aupair January 20, 2011 at 6:58 pm

I really hope (and I am sure) that you will have a great vacation! Sorry I did not answer your question a few days ago, but I have never been on a cruise and couldn’t say anything about safety issues on the ship. However, I wanted to say that I think that you sound like a very loving and caring host mom, also from how you talk about your AuPair. If you also show your AuPair (and also tell her) how you feel about her like you do here, I think she would not feel offended(at least I wouldn’t) if you give her information about safety and other related things. It would rather give her the feeling that you care about her because you value her and don’t give her these “rules” because you want to restrict her in her freedom. My hostdad would always give me information about potential risks and I sometimes laughed at him because I felt he was overprotective or exaggerated or I already knew what he was telling me. But it never offended me (I don’t know where your AuPair is from, but Europeans are in general not offended as quickly as Americans and you can talk much more directly to them).

And in general, the main reason why I love this site is that you all care so much about your AuPairs and try to be and (most probably) are a good hostmom (even if I sometimes don’t agree with your point of view). I just wanted to mention that :) Reading here really makes me want to become an AuPair for the second time…

PA AP mom January 21, 2011 at 12:17 am

Thank you anon. I really like getting the perspectives of the au pairs as well as feedback from my fellow host moms (and dads, if there are any on here).

It is sometimes really hard to find a good balance between getting what you need and being “fair” in the eyes of your au pairs.

I try to tell my AP frequently that she is doing a great job. I compliment her, especially in front of my boys, so they can see that I value her as a human being and that they should too.

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