Absolutely, luck plays a role in the Host Parent – Au Pair Relationship.
There’s all sorts of random in the timing of applicants’ availability, in the ways their portfolios get served up by Agencies, in their mention of that one little fact that makes us pay attention, and in the friends they make (or don’t) their very first days.
On the Host Parent side, there’s also lots of random in the way we’re feeling when we first see an application, how we’re struck by a photo, whether we’re ready for “a vegan who just might be our best au pair ever even though we eat a lot of cheesesteaks”.
I’m always reminding people that we can’t “interview out” every possible bad combination. We can’t test driving skills over the ocean, or predict how our domineering ‘my way or the highway’ approach to safety will play out for an au pair who prides herself on being responsible.
We do our best to eliminate obvious problems. Then, we work hard and with a sense of optimism to be welcoming, kind, effective at teaching what we need, and open to learning as we go along.
Human relationships are complex and dynamic. They can never be accurately predicted or perfectly controlled. But they aren’t the result of “luck”.
I don’t have a best friend of 38 years because of “luck”. I don’t have a great spouse because of “luck”. I didn’t have 9 terrific au pairs, or 2 flame out ones that ultimately didn’t hurt me and my family, because of luck.
Nope, I nurtured those relationships and did my best.
All of the things we do in the interviewing process, the on-boarding process, the weekly meetings, the changeover conversations, and more WILL tip the balance away from luck.
I bet the Just Lucky Host Mom, whose email is below, did much more that she realizes to make her Au Pair – Host Family relationship work out well.
What role do you think Luck plays in the Au Pair – Host Parent Relationship?
Here’s the email that prompted this post:
We are first time host parents with two older school age boys. I feel our au pair job is not that difficult, though it has its moments. We don’t offer much extra benefits, but we are in a desirable area and we are pretty easy going.
I only found this site after we matched but before our au pair arrived. It has helped me enormously with understanding what is typical (i.e. no such thing) and how to support my aupair in having a great year without worrying that I’m not giving enough.
When we interviewed we went with gut feeling, had several skype interviews, but did not consider many applicants and we did not check any references. Our family profile was probably too focused on making our family look desirable, and we have no handbook.
That said, we’re having a really good year and there is nothing I would wish to be different. The problem is, as much as I enjoy this site, it has made me pretty fearful of matching with another au pair. . I’ve started looking at applications for summer arrivals and it really strikes me how little these candidates actually have to offer in relation to the job requirements and how little they seem to understand the job. They seem to expect to go on to professional careers, and see the au pair year is really a break from their regular lives. They seem as though they are expecting it to be mostly fun.
Maybe we were just plain lucky the first time? – Just Lucky Host Mom