What if I actually don’t like my new Au Pair’s personality?

by cv harquail on December 14, 2012

Personality matters, but we struggle to figure out how much we should let it matter.

Au Pairs are caregivers, roommates, family members, and in the best of situation, they become our friends. But for some reason, many of us feel awkward making decisions about au pairs based on whether we actually like their personalities.

It can seem unfair to judge an au pair based on whether s/he’s talkative or quiet, passive or assertive, clever or boh.ring. — but we do judge them. And I’m sure they judge us, too.


Should we let our assessments of  ‘personality fit’  lead us straight to rematch?

Dear AuPairMom —

Our new au pair just arrived last week. We already think she is not a good fit for our family.

She is not warm and loving, and she doesn’t exactly lie but she leaves out key bits of information all the time. She gets really dodgy whenever we are trying to correct her or ask her to do something differently. (For example when we asked her to change the time of her shower since we all share 1 bathroom, she started to argue with us.)

She’s not at all flexible or compromising in nature- she wants to always be right. And she’s really stiff with us and even with the kids, though she is fine getting all of their physical needs met (so far).

I’m concerned that even after she is adjusted there is always going to be something “off” about her. She seems like she’ll be “fine” with the kids, but she is so difficult to deal with that my husband and I dread dealing with her. We never felt this way about our previous au pairs.

I feel like I could probably put up with this for a year, but my husband is more particular about people and he’s around more than I am, and I don’t think it’s going to work for him. We are fine with waiting a month to initiate rematch (if that’s what we decide to do), because that’s what our agency now requires.

Am I crazy to care this much, and this early?   

Have you ever had an AP where you just knew as soon as you met them that it wasn’t going to work? It’s based mainly on personality… she’s just too stiff and squirrely, it’s hard to explain… she doesn’t seem capable of discussing anything the slightest bit uncomfortable out in the open, and I think communication is so important.

She talks too much, and she’s really boring. As an example, I asked her how many children her mother has in her daycare. She went on to give me the ages of each child who comes on each day of the week, and told me which ones stay only half the day and which ones stay late. Meanwhile the kids are there demanding attention and she’s just blathering on… she seems oblivious to social cues and other people.

It’s not just with us that there are some social signals that are “off”. She was invited by other au pairs to join them in an activity her very first weekend– and she didn’t seem able to tell that they were inviting her as a courtesy, not because she’d fit into their group’s plan. (I know for sure that this was how they felt.) She accepted this lukewarm invitation– even though it meant being gone the first weekend she was here, and the weekend before her first week in charge of the kids.

What it really comes down to is that I’m not comfortable with this person, and I think I just don’t like her.

Have you ever had that experience with a new AP, and has it ever gotten much better?
Should I just be thankful that she doesn’t appear to be a complete flake?

~ RainyStateHostMom

Image: Franklin the Rainy Day Owl, by TheSugaredPair and for sale on Etsy


CalifMom December 14, 2012 at 7:52 am

Yes, it happens.
Yes, you should rematch.
Right away. Call now.

No guilt. Move on.

RainyStateHostMom December 14, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Thank you :)

This is what I think I should do. But I’m still thinking :)

Should be working December 14, 2012 at 4:52 pm

RSHM, it sounds like you know what you want to do. Eyerolling, arguing and negativity don’t sound good, so I see why; in our turnaround case our AP was cheerful and dutiful, but rubbed me the wrong way. But since your agency will make you go through mediation anyway after the 1-month mark, you might consider making the best of it and treating it ‘as if’ it might get better, with meetings and benchmarks and such.

Please be sure to post a followup in a few weeks. It’s always interesting to know how things turn out–rapid decline, fizzle, turnaround, et al.

RainyStateHostMom December 14, 2012 at 9:09 pm

I will- thanks!

exaupairnowhostmum December 14, 2012 at 9:29 am

I’ve been in your situation.We were on our 4th au pair, and I knew right away (during her trip from the airport to our house!!!) that I didn’t like the girl. She was arrogant, cold and surly. She started to work with the children, she was soo over-confident, had an excellent background, lots of experience with children but she turned out to be our worst au pair, she made constant mistakes. Said she could cook, but salad was the only meal i saw her “cooking”. She couldn’t handle the children clothes, kept messing up the sizes.(we still remember how she send my daughter to volleyball practice with my underwear instead of her shorts :-)), or how my 2 year old toddler went to nursery school wearing her 9 year old sister’s pants!!)Not a toy was in its place, and her idea of watching the children was letting them roam the house while she was doing who knows what in her room. I specifically told her no Tv for the children, and I would come home finding them watching movies in her laptop, but as she said: It’s not the TV! I guess that could have been not a big deal with a lovely, loving and nice au pair, but coming from her I just couldn’t stand it. It came to a point where I couldn’t stand the tone of her voice, (a deep, loud creepy voice) so I started giving her time off just not to have her close to me. As well as yours, she didn’t have great social skills and would come sit down at the sofa with my husband and I after dinner, staring at both of us, while we talked about our day, and pitching in every once in a while, with her deep voice, complaining about her day.Oh come on! she was with us for a month. Never regretted letting her go, she has become just a bad memory for us.

RainyStateHostMom December 14, 2012 at 3:50 pm

DH didn’t like her on the way home from the airport (I was home with the kids). He kept pointing out interesting landmarks, and trying to make conversation, and she just talked about random inconsequential things. Showed no interest in anything he said. And this has been the pattern- she doesn’t care to listen to us, she just wants to talk about what she wants to talk about. It drives us crazy.

She’s also this way with the kids- the only interactions she has with them are where she initiates things, tells them what to do. She doesn’t seem to know how to let them take the lead. I’ve talked with her about this a little bit, and about emotional mirroring (which she does not do- she laughs at them when they are being completely serious), but she kind of rolls her eyes whenever I talk to her about how she relates to the children.

I’m afraid she’s gotta go….

Tristatemom December 14, 2012 at 4:02 pm

OMG, the underwear story is hysterical – I am still laughing. Thanks, I really needed that today.

P.S. I would be mortified if that was my underwear.

Should be working December 14, 2012 at 1:08 pm

What a huge and difficult question. When our newest au pair arrived in late summer I felt in the first weeks that it wouldn’t work out. She seemed too strict, too into her own looks, a little ‘checked out’, interrupted a lot, and a little thick (i.e. not so smart). She just didn’t feel like a good fit, and our last au pair had been such an easy fit. I hated not feeling comfortable around her and oscillating between trying to warm up to her and trying to stay professional in view of what I thought would happen.

I agonized over what I saw ahead: our agency would require a mediation meeting, I would have to describe these not-so-concrete issues, and then rematching. I think I started a few drafts of emails to CV here about this topic, mainly “has a personality issue ever turned around and turned out ok?” But I think I never got to it.

I am shocked and happy to report that the situation DID turn around. I think she was nervous and homesick those first weeks. She came from a strict family; in our weekly meetings I tried to convey that for us a fun, friendly relationship to the kids is what we want. I encouraged her to ‘conspire’ with them more–to do slightly transgressive things like stop for ice cream after school and before homework, or make it a project to go around with kids to test out ALL the chocolate cake offered in all the neighborhood cafes and bakeries. And we showed her a lot of generosity, made jokes, and lightened her up.

Amazingly it worked. Also, she got a bunch of friends quickly, and I think going out a lot made her more easygoing at home. She just needed to ‘get a life’ and it seemed to make her warmer. Honestly I think this is yet another au pair who came from a problematic family (3rd time for that!) and discovered how nice it is to be in a ‘nice’ family.

I would love a collection of turnaround stories, by the way! I hope this thread collects them, because so often rematch seems the only solution, and I hadn’t heard many turnarounds on here.

BUT your situation seems different. Our au pair was extremely conscientious and dutiful and honest. She knew what the job was and wanted to do well in it. It’s not clear your au pair is as motivated to do a good job.

I think it is best to REALLY focus on what the job is and try to get her to do it well. In my experience, a lot of personality annoyances can be tolerated if I feel like the au pair is doing a good job with the kids and her duties. In fact, in the situation I described, once I saw that the au pair had managed to ‘click’ with our teenager–not easy to do, but crucial in the end–I knew we would keep her. It took about 2 months. And she was so pleased that she had managed that that it relaxed her and made her more confident.

So if it were me, I’d focus on what she needs to do to make you feel like she is doing a good job. I would have weekly meetings and be really clear about that. AND I would try to be as loving and generous as possible, because maybe there is just some adjustment and nervousness.

If she can’t do the job well after a month, that’s another story. But if it’s just about shower conflicts, and yet the job is going well, I have a feeling you could feel differently.

RainyStateHostMom December 14, 2012 at 3:56 pm

I don’t like the way she interacts with the children, and the way she rolls her eyes whenever we try to tell her anything. As an example, my husband told her to not park in the driveway (it’s narrow and she seems unable to do it without brushing the car up against the hedges on either side). She argued that the previous au pair told her to park there.

She argues with us whenever we bring up anything we want her to do differently. Even if in the end she does what we ask, she always argues about it.

The real question is whether she will make an effort to interact differently with the children. She is too stern with them, and her main interactions are telling them what to do and shepherding them around. When they play independently she ignores them.

AFHostMom December 15, 2012 at 7:29 am

Oh, I have a turnaround story too. But before I share that one, let me say that the OP’s AP sounds like the AP with whom we DID initiate rematch. We stuck her bad attitude (and deep voice, so exaupair’s story made me chuckle), immaturity, , argumentative nature, and chilliness toward our kids for 4 months, hoping it would get better. It got worse.
With my current AP, I knew from the time that we picked her up at the train that her English was just terrible. Like, not functioning terrible. The first few weeks she was here, she told the kids she was “too fat” to do something (not language we use about ourselves to our kids), would not take them outside despite my repeated instructions to, and my husband found her one day, on duty, reading a Spanish-English dictionary while the kids were jumping on their bed in the next room.
Most of it was based on her poor English skills. I had dusted off my old high school Spanish, which helped, and when I explained that in English, judgment words like “fat” are not polite, she didn’t use them anymore. She does take the kids outside, and I think her initial hesitation was a product of just being completely overwhelmed with her new life. For a few months, I didn’t know what we were going to do…her driving was appalling, and one day my husband came home early to find my then-3 year old son in our front yard, stark naked. AP and child #2 were there too, trying to catch up with him, and AP said “he wouldn’t put on clothes.” In our minds, the solution to that is “tough luck, kid!” but she was still feeling out her authority with the kids. She was always hanging out in her room, which we found bizarre because we encouraged her to get out and make friends, and I would drive her to the train station if she needed a ride. She just preferred to Skype in her room…with the same people she had left behind at home. At no time, though, did we doubt her genuine enjoyment of her time with the kids, or their safety (my son had opened the door and left the house on his own….I think….in any event, we stated in no uncertain terms that nudeness outside was not in our parenting plan). The kids loved her and she was earnestly trying to do well, and she was always pleasant to be around.
In any event, we just extended with her. My husband taught her to drive and she is now able to pick up the kids from school. She also drives herself to the gym, to run errands, and has “gotten a life,” spending time with people her own age (and not online). We still have our moments, but she’s shown tremendous growth, is pleasant to be around, genuinely loves my children, and is a helpful member of the family.
When things are bad, everything is annoying. When things are good, little things like taking turns in the shower don’t get amplified and remain little things. I think you need to rematch.

RainyStateHostMom December 17, 2012 at 12:40 am

That’s a nice story… at this point I really just want someone who genuinely enjoys my kids. I will put up with a lot for that! I have great (sweet beautiful smart funny loving, and ok sometimes difficult) kids, so it’s really insulting when someone doesn’t love them.

I will put up with anything but a stone cold heart who cannot love my kids.

AboutToBeHD December 14, 2012 at 2:34 pm

I like the SBW story because a week isn’t much time to size somebody up, especially with cultural differences. Maybe you’ve got a princess on your hands, or maybe, as SBW notes, she’s just going through culture shock, language barrier, homesickness, friend void, whatever (no clues in the article, so…)

And this is only one side of the story…

A few questions to clarify:
Is there anything about the situation that is different than you led her to expect?
Is she violating any of the policies laid out in your host manual?
How different does she seem than your interviews with her?
What exactly is different?
Is she not doing something she said she would in your interviews?
Why was the invitation from other au pairs just a” courtesy”? After only a week where they may have seen her once, I doubt they could have formed much of an opinion about anything.

RainyStateHostMom December 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm

I was pretty clear with her from the beginning about what the job would be like- I learned from reading this site to be extremely up front that we needed 45 hours per week, and some of the other more difficult aspects of the job.

We don’t really have a lot of rules, we are letting her use the car when she’s off-duty. I told her that we have one bathroom, and a fairly modest house.

She’s violating a few little policies here and there- mostly related to computer use while working- but I’ll be honest I could overlook this if I liked the AP.

In the interviews I was attracted to her outgoing personality and energy. She is outgoing and energetic, and I appreciate that about her. But I did not see how stiff she was- she flinches whenever someone makes a sudden move, and she seems uncomfortable with the kids running around (which they do all the time, and we don’t want to stop them). She has a nervous temperament, and gasps loudly whenever someone is about to drop/spill something- being around her has increased my anxiety levels. I need someone more calm! I don’t think I realized this when I was matching… I’ve never had this problem before.

I know the other au pairs invited her as a courtesy because our last AP told us (they were her best friends- our last and current AP are from the same country). All 4 of them were together on a play date with the children, and the 2 APs were talking about their weekend plans and felt awkward not inviting the new AP, so they included her. According to my old AP, they didn’t think she should come with them her first weekend, but didn’t think it was their place to say that.

AboutToBeHD December 14, 2012 at 4:20 pm

So, not only has it only been a week, you also had overlap with the previous au pair? So she’s jumpy – so might anyone be in a new situation…

Seems premature to write the girl off after such a short time. It seems that you also have a lot of hidden expectations that she is unaware of.

RainyStateHostMom December 14, 2012 at 9:17 pm

I don’t think we had any hidden expectations- it seems fair to expect an au pair to listen to our instructions/requests without rolling her eyes and without arguing. And to be comfortable around active children.

This has been a learning process for me- I now see what kinds of questions I could have asked that might have helped us see that she wasn’t the right AP for us. And in some cases I asked good questions but let it go when the responses were weak.

exaupairnowhostmum December 15, 2012 at 10:14 am

For what you say I understand that the big problem is her personality, and unfortunately that won’t change. She may get better with practical things, but she won’t change the way she is. I also read she’s raising your anxiety levels? from somebody that has suffer from severe anxiety in the past, I tell you that’s not worth it. It’s a good idea to try and improve the relationship as somebody said, since Christmas is coming up, I really wish you could. I did try with my 4th au pair, but I was so irritated by her personality, that even little mistakes were overwhelming for me. And then really wasn’t the mistake in itself, was her attitude. When I was telling her that she should do something differently, her answer was ALWAYS the same, in our native language, something like: TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT, shrugging her shoulders. that would make me go crazy. So we left it!

American AP in Europe December 15, 2012 at 6:48 am

What you described about being jumpy and nervous in personality is a symptom of PTSD. She likely had a hard home life or a traumatic event happen recently. The more time she spends in a loving environment, the better it will be for her.

Anna December 15, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Maybe, but it is not a hostmom’s job to be a psychologist and a savior. The au pair needs to be healthy enough (mentally I mean) to do her job with the kids, and she appears plain sick in her head.

AboutToBeHD December 16, 2012 at 11:27 pm

really, you’re going to jump to that conclusion based on somebody else’s reporting on a week of experience?

RainyStateHostMom December 17, 2012 at 12:47 am

I think there are some people out there who are amateur social workers. They like to take people with problems under their wings, and try to make them better. They are very patient, and get some satisfaction from this. I’m a little like this, but to be honest my husband has next to no patience for this sort of thing, and he’s home twice as much as me. I think if it were entirely up to me I would put up with this for 4-5 months before feeling like it was torture (unless things got much better, which is possible). But my husband feels tortured now. He can’t take it.

On the other side, I have a tendency to meld a little too much with the people around me (poor psychological borders- I know all about this stuff unfortunately) and I can feel myself taking on some of the characters and values of this girl- even ones that I abhor. It’s like I change my personality to suit others, people I don’t even like. And I really don’t want to do that, it’s not good for my family or for me.

I guess what it comes down to is that we’re not strong enough to deal with a little dysfunction thrown in the mix- my husband and i both come from dysfunctional families, and we work very hard for our family’s equilibrium. It’s not perfect, but we really do work hard. Having someone who is more psychologically impaired than we are is something we can’t afford.

German Au-Pair December 15, 2012 at 8:52 pm

I know people who seem jumpy and nervous all the time and they certainly don’t have PTSD. Just because some things MIGHT match a psychological disorder, it doesn’t mean the person actually has one. Dreamy people don’t necessarily have ADD and active, loud kids don’t have to have ADHD.
Maybe she just has serious problems adjusting to the new circumstances.

Dorsi December 14, 2012 at 3:50 pm

The first few weeks with our current Au Pair were also incredibly difficult. I remember the awkward non-conversation that we had on the way home from the airport — there were no smiles, no chatter, and mostly no exchange of information. I had given her the benefit of the doubt over a crappy Skype connection and her English was awful. She didn’t even seem to be making an effort.

After 4 days in the US, I think she was overwhelmed and exhausted and wondering what she had gotten into. However, I communicated a lot to her in writing (her written understanding was good). It turned out that she was coping by withdrawing. I think there was a tearful conversation with the LCC (with the AP) who told her she better try hard, speak lots of English, not speak in her native language to friends/family. As she got a little more comfortable, it was clear her sullenness was just nervousness. She is incredibly conscientious and does her job very well.

9 months in, she is not the most chatty Au Pair we have ever had (and sometimes I still feel like I don’t know her very well), but she is the most responsible and incredibly loving with our kids. It took a month or two to get there, but it was worth it.

Should be working December 14, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Great story! Conscientiousness goes a long way.

RainyStateHostMom December 14, 2012 at 4:11 pm

We had a similar situation in the first few days- I was really surprised by how sullen our new AP was. But it turned out to be nervousness and homesickness. Her English is almost perfect. Now she is no longer sullen, but we’re still having a hard time with her for different reasons… she is not a loving person.

Pippamaus December 14, 2012 at 5:31 pm

With AP2 we knew immediately that she was not going to work. Within the first 10 days she had:
• repeatedly rejected the toddler’s gift of a most precious balloon,
• bragged on Facebook about what a great vacation she was having,
• behaved as a guest to be served,
• showed precious little interest in the kids,
• was inappropriately forward with young men when we took her out to eat (enough so that I was uncomfortable and wanted to block kid’s view),
• claimed to have no dietary restrictions on her app, but was in fact vegetarian for ten years before coming to the US. Not a big deal, except she complained at every non-vegeatian meal about how sick eating meat made her feel.
• took the car daily (really) to shop abercrombie, and then
• gave daily “fashion shows” of the little (as in super short, super skimpy, show your T & A) outfits she had purchased,
• refused to play in the sand with the kids at the beach (no less the water) because she didn’t want to get dirty and had brought all the wrong clothes because she thought she was on vacation,
• left care and supervision of the toddler to our 11 year old for hours at a time.

She found another family, but only made it there another 4 months.

Sometimes you just know it’s not going to work–those are the easy rematch cases. Don’t wait the month–insist that you make the change immediately. You already know it won’t get better.

AP in Chicago December 15, 2012 at 12:23 pm

I agree!

RainyStateHostMom December 16, 2012 at 2:36 am

This is much worse than our situation.. and stories like this make me worry that we’ll end up with something worse. But then I think about our previous APs, and I really know we can get our needs met.

sa-mom December 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm

wow, that sound alot like our au pair that arrived 10days ago! We went on vacation to an exclusive resort this week to show her the real african experience, and so that DH and i can have some our time again! But it turned out to be her vacation and our family time! She decided her time off should be now! We had to ask the old nanny to join us, and it cost us a fortuin cause the other hotels were fully booked only one room in the palace available. She was supposed to play with our 15month old twins in the entertainment centre, instead she was playing games on her own didnt even keep an eye on the twins, so the nanny decided to pull a prank and diasappear with both kids! That was very irresponsible of the AP! She showed up (when she eventually did) for work in a hung over and braged about the events of the previous night!

German Au-Pair December 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm

I really hope you are in the process of sending her home.

Should be working December 19, 2012 at 4:16 pm

SA mom, I know somewhere on this blog is a thread about not taking APs on vacation in the first few months. It is important to get a ‘work-rhythm’ set up.

On the other hand, your AP might have turned out badly in any case, and if so, better to have a quick flameout than a slow fizzle.

And she disappeared with the kids. It’s over.

sa-mom December 20, 2012 at 2:15 am

should be working- we did thought about not going! But she assured us that she was responsible with kids in public places and that has been an AP for the last 4years to kids of all ages and knows her responsibilities and duties, she was explained thoroughly what was expected of her and her duties, i gave the same duties to her as what i got as an AP, and i can tell you its not so much to remember. But she still left the kids stuff at the hotel! Now we need to go and collect it! I did the check out while Dh carried both kids! All she needed to do is make sure you got all kids stuff and toys. A little too much, or is my expectations too high

Taking a Computer Lunch December 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm

In my opinion, this AP failed on multiple occasions at a serious level – she abandoned your children who were rescued by a former nanny (and perhaps she knew she didn’t have to take responsiblity because someone had her back) and failed to pack up the children’s belongings.

While many of us have learned the hard way not to go on vacation immediately with an incoming AP (btdt!), I find it amazing that she claims to have 4 years of work experience and doesn’t know how to follow through!

We occasionally have a problem when a new AP really wants to be our child. We constantly affirm that they are the third adult living in our home and not a child in our house. It sounds as though your AP has the same desire not to take on adult responsibility.

One Thing at a Time December 14, 2012 at 6:57 pm

I think she needs a dose of reality. Let her know that it is important and necessary to be flexible and listen to your direction and expectations. She needs to take this seriously because if she can not make an effort to change her approach, you will need to rematch. She needs to know it is imminent if she doesn’t change.

I would start with this conversation ASAP. If it modifies her behavior maybe things can work out. If not, then she will not be shocked when you actually do go into rematch.

Another thing she may not have grown an appreciation for yet is how chaotic and stressful most host parent’s lives are. My au pairs have seen how hard we work at our jobs, taking care of the kids, the hassles of maintaining a home, etc. Because we treat our au pairs well, when we ask for a favor here and there they pitch in because they know we do not take advantage of them and they enjoy making our lives better. She probably doesn’t get this and possibly never will. But if she does, then maybe she will understand better why the shower time is so important…

Taking a Computer Lunch December 14, 2012 at 9:56 pm

In the 11 1/2 years I have been hosting I have lived with a couple of APs that I haven’t particularly liked. One worked really hard with our special needs child, struggled with our typically developing child, and gave up about halfway through her year in attempting to communicated with us, her HP. We chose not to extend with her, but we did make it through the year.

The other struggled as she dealt with the responsibility for caring for a special needs child, did what was asked, but didn’t put a lot of energy into it. Her parents were not wealthy, but she behaved as is they were. She seemed honestly shocked by some of the hard decisions we had to make when we suddenly had to buy a new van, for example.

It sounds like you have an immature AP, and perhaps one who hasn’t really worked (babysitting for a relative or family friend does not count unless it was super consistent). Here’s some advice:

1) She’s homesick and you miss the outgoing au pair who was great and had become a member of the family. No one’s happy, it’s almost Christmas, it’s dark and her year looms before her. Sit her down and have a quiet conversation when the kids are in bed.

2) Don’t dress her down in front of the kids unless someone’s life is in danger. Wait until they’re out of earshot, or you’re having an evening conversation.

3) Distinguish between the big things and the little things. Rolling her eyes at the kids is a big thing.

4) Understand that for some people the rules are rigid and to-be-obeyed. So explain to her, “We want YOU to park in the street because some of the paint on the car has become scratched by the bushes when you park it too close to them. It’s no big deal and it will be easier for you.” (That also goes back to rule #3 – distinguishing between big things and little things.)

5) When she argues with you, call her on it. “Why are you arguing with me?” Don’t shout, don’t be snide.

6) Ask her how her day went. Encourage her if she did something well or halfway well. Become her job coach.

7) Sometimes APs have good English to answer questions about what is known to them, but don’t have good English to absorb new information, especially when they’re first adjusting. Try ice-breakers by asking her what her family does at this time of the year, or getting your kids to talk about their favorite holiday activities. If they’re old enough, encourage her to bake a batch of her favorite holiday cookies with them (and warn her that the kids will make a mess and slow her down, and she should let it be okay).

Call or email your LCC and tell her what you’re feeling. Encourage her to visit your AP (she has to have a visit within two weeks of arrival anyway). Your conversation with your LCC will help her ask the right questions of your AP.

Be realistic. You’re not going into rematch the week before Christmas or in the week between Christmas and New Year – so you might as well sit the AP down and give her some benchmarks that make it clear she didn’t have a successful first week, but has the potential to turn it around. She may be completely worried that she will mess up, so the jumping to sounds and to keeping everything upright is part of that tension.

The day after New Years’ is the day for you and DH to have the conversation, Can we live with this AP? If the answer is still no, then that is the time to push your agency not to force you to wait a month. But you will have already enlisted your LCC’s help and she will know where you stand.

RainyStateHostMom December 17, 2012 at 12:50 am

Thanks.. we are doing some of that. And she has been getting betterish.

Anna December 15, 2012 at 7:16 pm

From what you described, she seems terrible. Not a terrible person, but in the very wrong job for her. Your irritations with her aside (although would you want to subject your family to a whole year of tension at home?), her lack of ability to pick up on social cues points to real handicap. I wonder if she will be able to make sound judgments, and have the right perspective when dealing with your kids – will she be able to keep them safe even? If your kids are little, I would rematch without hesitation, they need a loving caregiver. I had an aloof au pair when my son was 2, she was with us for 8 months (too long), and I regret not rematching with her earlier, I think it had a lasting negative effect on my very loving and very needy of affection little boy.

RainyStateHostMom December 16, 2012 at 2:40 am

This is EXACTLY how I see the situation- thank you! We just don’t want to put ourselves through the stress.

I saw a friend of mine today whose daughter is in a class with mine. She saw our new AP there this week, and observed her- our AP didn’t know this woman was a friend of mine. She said that she seemed humorless and extremely stern. The humorless part is really what is getting us…

The other thing is that there is this basic lack of human empathy and honesty… it feels like she’s putting on an edifice all the time. I’ve been talking to her about how I want her to interact with the children, and she acts like she agrees and knows what I’m talking about, but then I see no change in behavior. She’s just a “smile and nod” kind of gal.

Anna December 16, 2012 at 2:26 pm

The au pair who was with us for 8 months would not even smile to, approach, or hug my 2 year old son in the morning. She stood there while I had to tear my screaming son off my skirt and physically hand him to her and put into her arms. She wouldn’t even say anything.
I coached her every week in our weekly meetings on how exactly to change her treatment of my kids. I even told her – even if you don’t feel like it, act it, its your job requirement. She smiled and nodded, until she thought I wouldn’t rematch with so little time left on her contract, and told me “I cannot change who I am”.
It is one of my biggest regrets that I sacrificed my kids’ interests in the name of being nice to someone else. Please, learn from my mistake. You cannot change the fundamental personality of someone, why should your kids suffer?

German Au-Pair December 15, 2012 at 8:56 pm

There are certainly things that can be dealt with and that can improve.
But sometimes you just KNOW that you will not be able to get used to a person’s quirks. If you dislike someone you get easily irritated and you are more likely not to be fair all the time. It’s no good for anyone involved.
I have met au pairs and host families alike of whom I instantly knew I would die if I had to live with them.
Things don’t need to be perfect all the time -I know my host family is not perfect and neither am I- but if there is a string dislike right away, it’s fairer to both parties if you get to start over before tensions build up.

RainyStateHostMom December 16, 2012 at 2:41 am

I think you’ve nailed it.. I find myself looking for flaws, because I’m so bothered by her personality. It’s not fair to any of us to stay in this relationship.

German Au-Pair December 16, 2012 at 3:18 am

Also, because you are not a first time host mum and seem to have had good experiences before, it’s fair to assume that there are no underlying issues with you having a problem with having another adult in the house or something like that. Your agency should respect your wish for a rematch due to personality.
You are not just her boss but you live with her and both parties should be comfortable sharing a house. Everyone knows that it’s incredibly hard to stay fair when you dislike someone and while that’s something a grown up has to deal with in a job setting, you shouldn’t have to do that at home. The same things bother you more about a person you dislike than about someone you like and your life should not be about trying to avoid that for a whole year.
There are many little things that bother me about my host family and sometimes they drive me nuts. But I like them so it’s okay for me and I know it’s the same the other way round.
Liking someone you live with is absolutely crucial.

I’d be so fair not to rematch before Christmas, because it’s hard to find a new family at that time.

Aplikasi Blackberry December 17, 2012 at 4:50 pm

The au pair who was with us for 8 months would not even smile to, approach, or hug my 2 year old son in the morning. She stood there while I had to tear my screaming son off my skirt and physically hand him to her and put into her arms. She wouldn’t even say anything.

Seattle Au pair! December 17, 2012 at 8:32 am

Here is a Story: My friend´s new au pair arrived while I was there visiting ( I´m from Brazil).
So while she didn´t have the au pair I was helping her take care of the kids ( I´ve been an au pair my self) I love those kids and so I gived them a lot of love ( I was like this with my host kids too). The first week she was there I notice that the girl was interested in bonding with the HM and HD and not with the kids, this is a 2nd year au pair and English is her native language, so no problem right?
She would not interact with the kids, she would not play with them and I don´t have to say she would not be loving at all. I was there showing everything to her but letting her do the job. I told me friend my point of view and she agreed with me that she was not what we were expecting.
So 2nd week came and nothing changed, one day I was in my friend´s bathroom and the baby (1.6 y) came after me, but the au pair didn´t see I was there, she came after the baby shouting at her to get out of there, I was horrified and she was very scared when she realized I was there. Late that day I told her that I didn´t like the way she acted with the baby. She said: I told her she shouldn´t go there. (OMG she is a Baby of course she will do it again ) . I explained to her and at night I told my friend what happened.
My friend didn´t say anything at that time but was almost sure she was done with that girl, she was nice but was not a good au pair.
My friend went on a trip and me and the au pair had some time alone, so she came to me and asked what she could do to be a better fit for the family, and I explained everything, that she should be more loving with the kids because they wanted a loving au pair, she needed to be good with the kids otherwise she would not stay with that family. She explained that it was her personality and she would try to be more loving and patient.
My friend came back and had a conversation with her, not knowing that I had a talk with her as well, we both said the same things to her.
It happens that the girl was willing to try, and now she is a good au pair, not perfect but much better with the kids. I was talking with the au pair the other day to know who everything was and she said it was much better and she uses me as her example to be more loving and playfull with the kids ( I was so happy to hear that ).

Well it was long but bottom line is: Talk to her, let her know what you expect and how you expect her to be with the kids, if you want her to be loving make sure you tell her, not everyone is loving by nature.
And if that doesn´t work then ask for a rematch because your family don´t have to be with someone that is not willing to make things work out.

Host Mom in the City December 17, 2012 at 9:34 am

We’re only on our second au pair and both have been excellent, so I’m asking this more for my own learning and hope it doesn’t come off sounding know-it-all. But how was she on Skype and email during the interview phase? We interviewed maybe 20 au pairs before settling on two that we spoke with further and then only matched after a number of email and Skype exchanges. I would hope this type of personality conflict would come through during that phase?

HRHM December 17, 2012 at 10:13 am

In my experience, Skype tells you nothing if they don’t want it to.

I had great conversation with AP3 and the year was a total horror show. AP4 was pretty awful on Skype the first time but I kept at it and she got a little better. Fast forward and she is hands down the BEST Au Pair on the planet (not just my best, THE best) People lie in their app and they can lie on Skype. We all put our best foot forward in these situations and no AP is going to be argumentative during an interview. No one is going to say, “I’m dull as dishwater and hate to be hugged or kissed by children”.

Unfortunately, I think we try our best to sort these things out in advance but I’m starting to feel like a lot of it is a craps shoot and you just have to deal with what comes.

Should be working December 17, 2012 at 4:44 pm

I feel like “kids these days” are such experts in self-presentation–e.g. Facebook–that indeed it is harder to get a sense of real personalities. And Skype might be an extension of that. They know how to look enthusiastic and cheerful and kid-loving. And probably in that moment even believe that is their true self.

Taking a Computer Lunch December 17, 2012 at 1:08 pm

In my experience, the best predictors of a good outcome are:

1) recommendations from employers (I miss the old days when APIA required recommendors to rank candidates on 5-6 qualities – anyone who got a 3 or below was automatically out of the running). It appears that not all agencies vet the applications, because with APIA the contractor also follows through with a telephone call and HF have access to those notes in English.

2) education – I’m not talking grades, although clearly AP candidates who strive for As learn to perservere. I’m talking about focus. The candidate who studies business or economics may be lovely with children, but it’s not her focus. The candidate who has studied pedagogy is focused on children. (Yes, I know there aren’t enough of those to go around.)

3) Really listen to the answers. We all hear what we want to here. The AP who tells you “I don’t eat with my family, I cook pasta for myself,” may not be tell you she is self-sufficient, she may be telling you “I’m not an adventurous eater, and I may need encouragement to get your toddler to eat anything but white food.”

4) Ask a question about a difficult situation the candidate faced and how she (or he) solved it. If the candidate does not give a childcare issue, then she (or he) is missing the point of the interview. A candidate who answers about studying for exam reveals what is really important to her (or him).

5) Skype favors outgoing, vivacious APs. Have a system where two of you chat – but one is offscreen listening and taking notes. Take as detailed notes as possible, because if you’re choosing between 2-3 candidates, the answers (not your memory) may surprise you.

6) Admit that no interview process is failsafe. Sometimes both you and the candidate are just going to get it wrong. That doesn’t mean who can’t live together for a year, but it may require more compromise than either of you are prepared. It’s a huge leap of faith to invite a complete stranger into your home, but it’s also a huge leap of faith on her part to come to you.

Host Mom in the City December 17, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Thanks, TACL – as always. With both of our au pairs, we actually did use many of the suggestions you’ve posted here. We only speak with au pairs who have some interest in children as demonstrated by teaching longer-term at a school or daycare or who have education in child-related fields. We’ve also always asked the “tell me about a time you faced a challenge” question and have also found that if it’s something non-child-related, the interview doesn’t go well over all.

That said, we never have looked much at the references actually – I just don’t put that much stock in them and I don’t speak any other languages so I couldn’t call the people. And I don’t agree necessarily that you have to be an outgoing au pair candidate to ace the Skype. We’re not looking for overly friendly and bubbly – we’re looking for serious about the job, knows what she’s getting into, knows what she wants, has thought about her answers, and has as many questions for us as we do for her. Neither of our au pairs are the “vivacious” type, but with both we felt really comfortable with them as candidates after a few Skype sessions.

Should be working December 17, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Skype is really a problem in my view. It can show up immature-seeming APs I guess. But faces give SO many cues, which means OUR faces are giving cues that the candidates respond to. And I feel under pressure to be ‘nice’ and accessible. I think phone without face is a really useful tool, much better starting point than Skype.

Host Mom in the City December 17, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Huh, I actually think the video aspect of Skype is key. There have been a number of times where I’ve Skyped with a candidate who is telling me they want to be an au pair because they “just love kids” and it’s written all over her face that it isn’t true. Or you can sense their discomfort when I’m pressing them on an interview question that they don’t have an answer for. I wouldn’t be able to tell that on just the phone. But I guess we all have different styles and find what works :)

Taking a Computer Lunch December 18, 2012 at 10:57 pm

I have found with most languages I can puzzle out key words with the help of a dictionary (Asian languages are out for me). APIA provides translations as well as the interviewers notes on the follow-up conversation.

Over the years I have passed on excellent candidates when the reviewer wrote such things as “I feel this girl would be best placed in a rural environment.” Some of the references reveal how much the applicant has padded her job description or the number of hours she actually worked. (Or that she was a mother’s helper and not a babysitter.)

I consider the application as a package, but certainly the references can be a deal breaker for me.

RainyStateHostMom December 22, 2012 at 1:44 am

Our AP had no questions for us. Red flag? I guess I should consider that next time.

Leaving a comment December 22, 2012 at 6:05 pm

It would be a red flag for me.

Host Mom in the City December 23, 2012 at 3:28 pm

HUGE red flag. I want to see that the au pair is choosing us as much as we are choosing her.

German Au-Pair December 23, 2012 at 10:07 pm

That strongly depends on your letter! My HM had a perfect letter that described the kids personalities and difficulties so well, that I honestly had no questions about any of that. I read it, I talked to my host dad, I knew that it was my family.
The only question I had was where my room is located because I couldn’t imagine living in a room without a window.
If you send your au pair a super detailed letter -or maybe even the handbook!- then sometimes there is nothing big and specific left to ask.

German Au-Pair December 17, 2012 at 9:47 pm

I did not have any skype date with my host parents before we matched! I talked to both of them on the phone once and then skyped with the kids when be were already pretty sure we were going to match.
My host parents both asked me the nearly the same questions and one was exactly what you’ve said in point 4. I told them about the trouble I have faced with my little brother and what tacticts I have used to overcome it -which was exactly what they wanted to hear.

One more thing that THEY did was asking about the video making. The girl before me had a video mit almost flawless English and seemed good enough on the phone but turned out to hardly understand anything. My HP believe she has been coached and was very good at learning things by heart because her video did not match her real English at all. (There it was a problem that they didn’t sykpe, because they believe she had someone else talk on the phone for her.)
They asked me if it was hard to do the video and if I had learned the things I said by heart.

Leaving a comment December 18, 2012 at 4:35 am

I have a comment on #2, TACL.

I the country I come from, studying pedagogy doesn’t mean the person is focused on children. In that country pedagogy is one of the faculties which are relatively easy to get into. It’s something pretty much anybody would pick if they did not have any better idea what to study of if they did not have enough points, luck etc. to study something else. Yes, there are some people who study pedagogy because they like children and want to work with them. But that is not a rule in my country.

I recently interviewed a candidate who had graduated from pedagogy and had some experience as a nanny. She did not seem to be passionate about children unfortunately and openly admitted not to be interested in work with children in the future. She also complained about her internship in a daycare. She basically did not have ideas on what to do with her life and being an au pair was a way to spent 1 or 2 years in US, improve her language, meet new people etc. We interviewed her mostly in our language and decided to pass on, especially when we read a ramble about us and our ridiculous questions on social media… I’m pretty sure she ended up finding a host family after all.

Should be working December 18, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Host Mom in the City–your response about skype is so interesting! And it makes sense. Rethinking my view, I came to the realization that skype weirdly makes *me* come across as friendlier than I feel, makes me feel more connected to the AP candidate in a way that clouds my judgment. Because I feel like I have to smile and be encouraging when they are nervous. It kind of draws me into a premature sense of alliance or something. On the phone, I can have a kind voice but keep my business-face on, which helps me keep my distance and feel like I can make cold-hearted judgments.

RainyStateHostMom December 22, 2012 at 1:48 am

Yes, this is how I feel exactly. I feel the need to be encouraging. Partly because the interview is really a two-way street. I think I’m a little nervous about the AP choosing my family too. I need to get over that!

apnewbie December 19, 2012 at 2:01 am

that is exactly what we got! I interpreted an interest in pedagogy literally, and now this makes perfect sense since we now know she is not the brightest bulb in the lamp. She was definitely coached on what to say by others also for our skype interviews also..

RainyStateHostMom December 19, 2012 at 2:59 am

This is excellent advice- I’m going to use this next time I’m matching (which could be very soon).

Our current AP seemed GREAT on skype. I interviewed a number of candidates before her (about 6 or 7), and either me or DH were able to rule them out. I also read a ton of applications where I never bothered to interview- I really was careful. But now I realize that I didn’t ask enough of the right questions, and when I did ask the right questions I allowed weak answers to pass muster. The reason? Because this girl seemed really really good on skype and on the phone, and in her emails. It’s actually part of her problem- she has a mask, a facade, she seems very charming and engaged but it’s really all about her all the time. And when she’s not in the spotlight, she gets sullen and withdrawn. But in an interview you’re always in the spotlight, so I didn’t see this. She isn’t very interested in other people. One thing I recall is that she never had any questions for us, at all. That was a sign- she can’t even feign interest in anything other than herself. But she’s extremely articulate and chatty and has an upbeat voice- I mistakened that for maturity and friendliness. She’s kind of friendly but she’s not very nice.

I really am going to do what you suggest, I will skype and have my husband observe. He is more critical than I am, I just want to like everyone. Maybe we’ll take turns with the same person.

Our AP did have a ton of stellar recommendations, and lots of childcare experience. She is an organized, clean, energetic person. She has a lot going for her- just not what we want/need.

andre December 17, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Her nationality may play an important role here, some au pairs from some countries (especially europeans) can be very direct when talking , they may seems stiff but it is actually their cultural background. Talk to her and to you lcc, if it does not work rematch

Leaving a comment December 18, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I agree with andre. Her nationality may also play role in her ability to recognize so called “courtesy” invitations. Having just come from a country where people are more direct and where issuing a “coutesy invitation” would be considered being double-faced, she may have assumed her new “friends” were just so nice and friendly to want her to join them. I don’t know if that’s a case here, but it may be.

RainyStateHostMom December 19, 2012 at 3:03 am

I would agree with you, except that our AP comes from the same country as our previous AP (who we LOVED and we are finding the new AP different from all of our last AP’s fellow-country friends). And I’ve been reading a lot about this particular culture, and our AP is in many ways strange for her culture. My husband has lived in that country as a child and as an adult, and he has family there. It doesn’t make him an expert, but I’m pretty sure it’s not cultural. Or maybe it’s an extreme version of the culture.

One positive thing: my husband had previously been pretty adamant about really trying to get APs only from this one country. Now he’s really much more open minded. I’m glad, because I want to have APs from different cultures!

megan December 20, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Comment deleted, since it violates the AuPairMom comments policy.

[I left the ensuing discussion though, since readers will appreciate others’ effort to clarify how we believe au pairs should really be treated– cvh]

Taking a Computer Lunch December 20, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Do you think it is acceptable not to mind children, so that another adult must come and rescue them? Do you think it is acceptable that when asked to pack and bring the children’s belongings, to ignore the task, forcing your HF to return to retrieve them?

Nobody questions that a new AP has adjustment issues. That’s a given. And many HF realize that APs confuse their vacation with hers, and that it’s especially hard for APs not to be on vacation when they are visiting a new and wonderful place.

However, there are some things that are not acceptable. It may be that this young woman is capable of rising to the occasion, but she hasn’t started off on the right foot, given the account here. Granted, her account will differ. Nevertheless, in the 11 1/2 years of hosting, no AP with whom I have shared my house has behaved this way (not even the one I took on vacation a week after she arrived)!

HRHM December 21, 2012 at 9:11 am


I have had 5 Au Pairs of varying levels of quality and skill, from really terrible to really great. In my home, lots of things are trained, tolerated, re-explained, re-engineered, etc to make it possible to work with different types of personalities and abilities. HOWEVER, if you endanger my children, abandon your job, steal from me, lie about something material, then you will be SENT HOME so fast your head will spin. NO DOUBT ABOUT IT. I don’t care how hard it was for you to get here, how homesick you are, how out of place you feel. This is not about me being cold-hearted. I bring my AP into my home and place in her care the MOST important things in my life – my children. If you can’t do the job justice, speak up and I’ll help you find a new family. Focus on yourself and ignore the safety of my children? You don’t deserve to be an AP and I would never support foisting you off on some other unsuspecting family. You should go home if you can’t do the job. It’s not a vacation.

SingleHM December 21, 2012 at 11:18 am

Are you the same ‘troll’ that says such things on the DCUrbanMom site? Just let it go…

APs aren’t slaves. To say that is to disrespect so many that were truly treated as such in the past.

Host Mom in the City December 21, 2012 at 1:18 pm

I was wondering the same thing. It’s really offensive and really shows that the poster has no idea what being an au pair means.

Returning HM December 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Oh my gosh – I was wondering the same thing! I was one of the “please stop, troll” posters on DCUM earlier in the week!

RainyStateHostMom December 22, 2012 at 1:38 am

No one is saying send her home- (at least that’s not what I’m saying)- I’m saying, let her find a better match, and let us find a better match, and we can all move on with our lives and stop being unhappy.

I was never an au pair, but I’ve lived overseas as a Peace Corps Volunteer. You want hard? I lived in a village with no running water or electricity, in the days before cell phones or skype, with people from a very different culture from me and who did not speak English. I was only 22.

So yes, I do what I do with a heavy heart, and I do feel for this girl, but the fact is that I have had good matches in the past and I’m not willing to live with a bad one for a whole year out of guilt.

Anyway we already talked to her about it, and it seems the feeling was mutual. Problem solved.

RainyStateHostMom December 22, 2012 at 1:40 am

(and as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I lived there for 2 years- this was no vacation service trip. I was the only foreigner within 30 miles of my village. Seriously. )

RainyStateHostMom December 22, 2012 at 1:42 am

and i realize that i didn’t read the whole thread… please forgive me.

Au pair December 20, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Wooow Megan, calm down! I think you understood something wrong here. I think the problem isn’t about the comments above, I think you are having a problem with your host family. Do they not treat you well? Maybe you could talk about it?

oranje_mama December 21, 2012 at 11:19 am

Gut feelings and adjustment time . . .

I am a HM (AP#1 just finishing up and AP#2 about to arrive). I have some personal experience to share – not from being a HM but from my experience as a high school exchange student.

I remember vividly my first month in my host family. I was 16. Communication was very difficult. Their English was not good, my skills in their language even worse. Things were different than what I had expected – what I thought I knew of this culture. Sights, sounds, tastes, everything different. I felt mis-matched with my HF. The family dynamic was very different from what I was used to.

One month in, I went to the first meeting with our local counselor. They separated the exchange students from the HFs, and everyone talked about their experiences. When it was my turn to talk, I said I didn’t think it was going well, that I felt mis-matched and out of place, and might need to rematch. Then, the counselor reacted: “Really? Your HF was the only one in the other room to say how well things were going and how much they like you!”

When I heard that, I thought, OK, let me give this more time. In the end, I was closer to my HF than probably any of the other students that I knew. My HM and each of my 3 host sisters have visited me over the years, and even attended my wedding. Our kids call each other their “host cousins.”

So, I would say, don’t underestimate the culture shock. For me, it was huge, and really took some time to overcome. At the same time, I am a strong believer in “gut feeling.” I have done a lot of hiring professionally, and my gut feeling upon meeting a candidate has been borne out nearly every time. I think I am particularly sensitive–maybe pick up on non-verbal cues better than most– (maybe because of my cross-cultural experience!) but I would say that if in your gut you feel like it’s not a matter of learning but a matter of attitude, then I think you should listen to that feeling.

RainyStateHostMom December 22, 2012 at 1:43 am

Thank you.

RainyStateHostMom December 22, 2012 at 1:53 am


We decided to rematch. It’s just a personality mismatch. I kept thinking, “well maybe I shouldn’t” because she works so hard and does some really amazing things that our previous AP didn’t do. She has so much energy, and I love that! But then something would happen to remind me of why I want a rematch.

And tonight we sat down and told her- the timing is so awkward with the holidays, but we’re having our exit interview next week and I don’t want to tell her on Chrismas Eve/Day. I told her that I recognize all her great qualities and will give her a good recommendation, and that she is welcome to stay here as long as she needs (she can stay an extra week if we agree, according to our LCC).

She really seemed to understand, and I think the feeling was at least a little mutual. I didn’t need to go into details.


Beth December 27, 2012 at 4:11 am

Having an au pair in your life can be positive and negative, just like like any other relationship. However they are responsible for the most precious things in your life, your children. I just recently let my au pair go and it was extremely emotional and heart wrenching, but was the best move. She was with us for about 4 years!! She was set to leave to go back home in a couple of months, but about a few months back she had been acting strange and not up to par on her responsibilties around the house. Staying out very late, not cleaning after herself or the children….. Over the years she had been extremely well taken care of. She had a beautiful room with her own bathroom, all new furniture, laptop computer ( so she could skype, communicate with family and friends and do her college work), flat screen TV, cell phone, her own car (a jeep cherokee)…… We wanted to make sure she was as comfortable as she could be, like home. We had photos of her family and friends in frames all over her room, so she wouldn’t feel lonely when she first arrived.I know she must have had some fear of coming and I wanted her to feel safe and welcome. We even became good friends (which could have been the problem) I took her on trips to NY and FL. We were very good to her, she was family. She was an excellent au pair to our children!!But recently we could help but feel she was taking advantage of us. She was going to drive the car to Philly, but she knew driving the car out of state was a no no. My husband told her she couldn’t so she ended up taking the train. If she didn’t accidently slip that she was driving the car out of state, we would have not known. So my husband did not trust her then, so he put a tracer on the car. Well within a two week period we watched her drive the car around to strange places. When we asked out of the blue..so what have you been up to, she flat out lied where she had been, but we knew due to her being traced. We were completely shocked by her lying!! When we comfronted her we found that she had been watching another child while our kids were in school, which she was not allowed to do per agreement! She said she was doing a friend a favor. When I asked why she couldn’t have told us the truth, she said she was scared we would be mad. This was ridiculous since we have always been opened minded and willing to help. This was not the only lie we found she had told. As hard as it was I told her she had to go because I no longer trusted her and who knows what else she lied about over the past years. I absolutely would have not had a problem with her helping a friend, so why did she lie?? It baffles me. This obviously stills hurts or I would not bother writing this. My husband works from home, so as for the kids we are good, but we miss her presence as she was a part of our family. But I do do have to put my children first and I don’t tolerate lies!!!

au pair December 27, 2012 at 10:06 am

Woow..thats a very emotinal story… How come she stayed so long? Was she on a student visa?

HRHM December 27, 2012 at 9:10 pm

No offense, but you are in a “do as I say, not as I do” position. In the US, true Au Pairs are present in the US on a J-1 visa which can only be for 2 years at a time. If your “Au Pair” as you call her, was here for 4 years, then she was either here illegally or on another type of visa (student, tourist, etc) Under those other types of visas, she’s not allowed to work for pay for ANYONE, including your family. She would only be allowed to do on campus work study for 20hours or less per week if she was on a student visa. So while you are breaking the US law, you are wondering why she is lying to you? Seems to me that you set the precedent that honestly is all relative. Reap what you sew. JMTC

Alex December 28, 2012 at 11:13 pm

I honestly don’t think it’s her fault, though. I know a lot of APs whose HFs asked them to stay longer than they were allowed to, it’s not secret, HFs “sponsor” their student visas in exchange of childcare. Both parties get something from it: APs get to stay in the US for a longer period of time, maybe even forever, and HFs get to keep an already well known AP. Of course nobody’s 100% safe without the benefits of counting with an Agency and support in case of trouble, but my point is that what this HM did is not that “estrange” to be fair. Might not be good, or legal, or even safe but they aren’t the exception and everyone knows that.
I think the problem is that she trusted this person, and this person failed her.

HRHM December 30, 2012 at 11:37 am

My point is that she says she doesn’t tolerate liars but she is lying herself. Whether other people do it doesn’t make it ok. And realistically, her “au pair” isn’t an au pair, she’s an illegally employed nanny. The employer has no right in the US to limit the off-duty activity or work of their employees ( unlike an au pair who has signed a contract with the agency and the state department that they won’t hold other employment). Even if the nanny and family have a contract, it’s not binding because employing her is illegal.

AboutToBeHD December 30, 2012 at 12:35 am

“Might not be good, or legal, or even safe but they aren’t the exception and everyone knows that.”

Yes they are, and no they don’t. Only liars and cheats think everyone else is a liar and a cheat.

RainyStateHostMom March 7, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Final update:

We re-matched with a new au pair who was extending for a year from a different part of the country. She fits the needs of our family so much better. SO GLAD we rematched. As soon as the last au pair was out of my house it was like a weight had lifted off my shoulders- I was so happy not to see her everyday.

It was a learning experience that I will take with me when we are matching again next fall.

Momma Gadget May 17, 2013 at 1:54 am

So what do you do when your kids hate the Au pairs personality?

I thought everything was going great with the new AP – but last night my teen came to me saying that he hates the new AP and that he is a bully and A jerk ( but in much more emphatic and colorful language)
It seems that there is way too much testosterone enfused competitiveness going on between them.My sons is the king of teenage smack talk, and we are a family of teasers… I am sure this is more than a major contributor. But my son says the AP is much meaner , uses foul language, and tries to intimidate him by “getting in his face”.
My younger son says he mimics and mocks him when he gets upset ( and no doubt is wining). I’ve seen them get into these smack talking competitions over who’s stronger or would win a wrestling match… It seemed harmless, but I think it has gotten way out of hand and have no idea if it is possible to fix.
Also… Although I like this AP, and have had many interesting conversations…because of the disparity of what I see, and what is reported back to me, I can’t quite shake the feeling that I am being “played”.
Any thoughts/insights into older child/ap relationships would be greatly appreciated!

Au Pair Australia May 17, 2013 at 3:28 am

After having about 12 au pairs in my life I’ve learnt that we can not always have the perfect match, is not possible considering that we will not know the personality of the au pair until she arrives, so I think is more important to give priority to other things like her performance, her caring to the children, her liking to the children, if she is doing well in this, then her personality if it does not match quite well with ours is something we can work out

Comments on this entry are closed.