Dear AuPairMom, I’m hoping to get some input from your readers on a problem I have about trust and commitment to our family:
Our AP (our second) has been with us for a few weeks. Last weekend, she traveled outside the country to see a male friend. (He’s in a country nearer to the US than her home country.) Our Au Pair has told us that her family knows this guy and that she was visiting him.
We had a meeting about this, to explain that it looks poor in our eyes for her to be traveling extensively so soon after arriving here, and for a guy to boot. We also told her that we weren’t going to stop her from going.
The details surrounding this friend are very vague and she couldn’t/wouldn’t explain why she has to visit him so soon etc. We think that this is possibly her boyfriend and she planned all this long before she even joined our family. I didn’t ask about boyfriends prematch and she has not identified him as such, it is only our feeling.
What is bothering us mostly is the secrecy around this.
Our au pair’s attitude seems to be that this is her private life and no concern to us. I have tried to obtain more information about this from her, albeit in a subtle way, and have gotten few, sometimes inconsistent, pieces from her. At this point we feel uncomfortable and talking with her again seems fruitless since we feel that she didn’t put all cards on the table the first time when we had the meeting
For us, it comes down to trust: what is up with this guy, what are her real plans for being an au pair, what other things will she keep from us that are more directly related to the kids and us etc.?
I should also mention that I had a few days to marinate this issue now and spoke to another host mom. She thought that we were being intrusive of our AP’s personal life and she wouldn’t expect her au pair to open up about love life so soon in the relationship (with the host family).
Lastly, she is a nice person, we and the kids like her and she is starting to be more competent in her tasks. I think we are most afraid of a ‘what if our kids are not her 1st priority’ situation.
What do you all think? UnansweredQuestions
I can see why you might be concerned — immediate travel suggests that getting settled with your family many not be your AP’s top priority. And, whenever there’s a fellow (or galpal) in the mix, we wonder if social life is more important than the AP’s commitment to work with our family.
It’s hard to know how much of your AP’s reticence to talk things over is due to:
- cultural differences in what feels right to disclose,
- her personal threshold for privacy,
- the depth of your very new relationship with her,
- the simply awkwardness about discussing differences, or
- that she’s trying to hide some kind of alternative agenda for her au pair year.
I’ll bet that #1-4 are just as likely as #5.
Keep in mind that — in your perception of this situation — her reluctance to talk seems like secrecy. But, it may be something else entirely.
Open yourself up to the possibility that there are other explanations.
Verify, but trust
If your top concern is whether or not your Au Pair is committed to your kids, their happiness and their safety, I think that this is what you should talk about with her. Depending on how direct or indirect your think you need to be, you can discuss this priority with her.
It is still so early in your year, and the other signs seem positive, so I’d give this one a little bit more time. Give her a sense of the behaviors you’ll look for (and/ or what you saw done by your previous au pair) that demonstrate commitment. If she behaves in ways that look to you to signal too little commitment, talk about these behaviors– but stay on the lookout for good behaviors too.
When we’ve talked on the blog about BBFs and GBFs, and well as romantic and close platonic friendships that Au Pairs have, we’ve realized that au pairs can have involving relationships and still do a great job with our kids. What seems to be diminished is the hang around, family time (which not everyone wants anyway). Even if this fellow is an important dude in your au pair’s social world, she can still have a great year with your as your au pair.
Parents and APs, what do you think?
- Your Au Pair’s Friends: Key to Her/His Happiness?
- Your House is Not a Youth Hostel
- When Troubles Back Home Cause Distress