What’s Luck Got To Do With It?

by cv harquail on February 20, 2016

Absolutely, luck plays a role in the Host Parent – Au Pair Relationship.

8542712614_b441cd0cf7_mThere’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

 Lucky Anemone by Col Ford on Flickr


TexasHM February 20, 2016 at 5:40 pm

Here is what jumped out to me:
“two older school age boys…our au pair job is not that difficult”. Having older children your odds of success are higher in many ways because you don’t have to worry as much about safety awareness (vs having an 18 mo old that you have to watch like a hawk 24/7), the kids likely know the rules/routine and can help AP and keep them from making mistakes (“HM says we aren’t allowed to have candy for dinner”) plus they will generally rat out siblings vs AP having young kids that can’t give her on the fly guidance. And if the job truly is easy then even APs that some families would consider weak or mediocre should be able to master the job in your household.

“we are in a desirable area and we are pretty easy going”. Double jackpot. Being in a desirable area APs are even more motivated to make it work and keep you happy because they know if they go into rematch the odds are slim they will be able to stay there or get a better location. In fact some will want to match with you just for location and will literally do whatever you say/want as long as it means they get to spend their year there. I have seen APs stay in abusive situations and then remark how lucky they are! (because they are in X city) Secondly, being easy going is going to also make your odds of success much higher because hosting an AP will mean there will be wear and tear and occasional mistakes. HFs that want and expect Mary Poppins will be disappointed and likely rematch and go through several APs before quitting the program dissatisfied, and those that are more easy going will be more likely to be able to complete an AP year with almost any AP candidate.

“we went with gut feeling, had several skype interviews” Double bullseye again. Two times in interviewing I overrode my gut and both times it cost me. AP1 my gut said pick the other candidate but I had fallen in love with mine and felt if we didn’t match with her she would lose her dream (age deadline). It ended up working out but it was A LOT of stress and work and EVERYONE told us to rematch and we will never ever tolerate that again. Second time I was worn out from interviewing and not finding a rockstar so I started overriding my gut and settling and that was a disastrous burnout. Never again. Also – skypeing several times. You likely covered a lot more bases than you think you did. I can’t believe all the host families that literally skype one time (because its required) and then ask to match in minutes. Then they wonder why it doesn’t work out! You are asking a complete stranger from halfway around the world to live in your home and take care of your children and drive your car and represent your family!!! You likely got to know the candidate and got a great gut feel and didn’t see/hear any red flags and that combined with great geo, good attitude and easy gig and voila – successful year!

“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” – AHHH now you know what you didn’t know. Before you were unconsciously competent and now you are consciously competent! I bet I could probably figure out which agency you are with too because I used to feel like that until I deliberately switched agencies. ;)

I would also be willing to bet that you are a good manager (or so easy going that you are just good with almost anything and AP hasn’t made a mistake major enough to ruffle your feathers). Being a good manager is also a trait that will allow you to host almost any AP successful (any AP that is coachable of course). I, on the other hand, am a terrible manager so my APs all joke that its easier to get into the CIA than get a match with our family! (That might actually be closer to true than false…)

Regardless, the great news is that it sounds like the odds are very much in your favor so all you really need is to continue to trust your gut and interview thoroughly and there’s no reason you can’t find success again. You might be surprised too. I remember telling a HM friend that I was worried I would never find an AP as amazing as AP2 and she literally burst out laughing and said that not only would I probably find a better AP the very next round but I would likely have several rockstars throughout the years – AND she was right. Now we have had several rockstars (each rockstars in their own way and very different personalities too) and in spite of the hiccup when I settled and ignored my gut our record is pretty solid. (4/4 and all asked to extend and 1 that made it a few days).

I guess that’s a point to make too. If you have an easy gig in an AP desirable area then I would not be at all afraid of rematch. When we started and had 3 barely 5 and under (two under 27 mos) and lived in a not desirable AP geo our odds would have been rough in rematch. You however, could have your pick of the litter so if by some chance you do happen to have a dud arrive on your doorstep, you just start the rematch process and get a gem that is even more appreciative because you saved their year and they get an easy gig in a great place!

Dorsi February 23, 2016 at 11:42 am

Just as a counterpoint, we are a very limited interview family. I screen the paper applications, do 3-4 email exchanges and mostly have my mind made up. I do 1 interview because it is expected, and a second when we have offered to match. This has worked well for us as we have had 7/8 AP successfully complete their years.

I do think that my APs tend to have more limited English than average. I cannot get interesting and thought provoking questions from a Skype interview, and I can assess their comfort level and attitude in the first 5 minutes. The next 25 minutes are torture for both of us.

Just putting this out there – there are many systems that are successful.

AnonForThis February 23, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Dorsi, what are the screening elements you use, since it sounds like it is mostly reading applications and a few emails? That’s a great success rate!

Should be working February 23, 2016 at 2:29 pm

Dorsi, what are the screening elements you use, since it sounds like it is mostly reading applications and a few emails? That’s a great success rate!

(Somehow this same comment got tagged as “anon for this” and is awaiting moderation….not sure why and maybe the duplication won’t even appear…)

AuPair Paris February 20, 2016 at 6:05 pm

“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.”

Brief point: if your au pair has had literally any other kind of job, an au pair year WILL be mostly fun, and a break from regular life. It’s a job, and you have to work. Forty hours is a lot. No denying it. But compared to the hours I worked waitressing alongside my degrees (7am – 4am shifts, often, if there were night events), or the stress of working in social care, au pairing was a breeze. I had a lovely two year break, made a lot of friends, fell in love with the kids, and did my job enthusiastically and dutifully. When I left, I told the next au pair that the job was easy, because I really thought it was… I wouldn’t say that that necessarily means that I didn’t understand the difficulty or responsibility involved.

Aside from that, it does sound like you’ve got a pretty decent system, if you don’t overthink it!

WarmStateMomma February 21, 2016 at 10:05 pm

My second AP took a break from a professional career to be an AP (travel, improve English, less responsibility, etc.). This young woman helped me and my toddler when I had a pregnancy crisis. She helped me move. In triple digit heat. She helped me recover from a complicated post-op that landed me in the hospital for an extra week after baby 2 was born. She made us laugh all.the.time. I thought no one could be better for us than her.

She even helped me find her successor, who is finishing her year with us next month and has extended with us for a second year. The current AP has plans to pursue grad school (math) after her AP time. She rocks the socks off the AP I thought was irreplaceable. Our irreplaceable AP calls the current AP the “A**kicker.”

HD would never again consider an AP who didn’t have professional goals. We’ve realized that’s the lid for our pot. YMMV but compared to what they’ve experienced in terms of competitive academics and jobs, being an AP is pretty fun and easy. Enjoying an American standard of living and liberal social mores is also a huge draw for APs from some countries.

Taking a Computer Lunch February 21, 2016 at 11:29 pm

Look, when you first become a HM, it’s a lot of trial and error. My advice:

1) Ask your current AP if she’d be willing to help you vet her successor. Most APs will say “yes.” Then, do it. Encourage candidates to contact your current AP (let her choose the method – Skype, email, FB, etc., and only give out that method of contact. Ask your current AP what she thought.

2) So you got “lucky” the first time. Use your strategy, develop it, and push for a great successor. Look for APs who have some real work experience, rather than a high school student who did a lot of babysitting. (Note that age is not necessarily the best factor – one of my favorite APs turned 19 just before she came to my family. One of my least favorite APs turned 19 six weeks after joining my family.

As someone who is now hosting her 12th AP and who often supervises interns at work – curiosity can overcome lack of experience. The AP who asks lots of questions may be better than the one who “knows” everything.

So you survived your first AP without a handbook and had a great time. Now’s the time to develop a handbook (there are some great examples here). You’ve hosted an AP, so you know what’s important to you. Make a handbook. Run it by your spouse. Run it by your current AP. Send the rules that affect APs to candidates (not necessarily personal information about your kids). The ones that say “No” were not good candidates for you.

I’m currently living with AP #12 in 14 1/2 years. I only went into rematch once. I should have rematched with 2 other APs (one was lovely with my child who had special needs, but mediocre with the rest of us – although she cooked brilliantly and inventively; the other needed constant job coaching and nearly trashed a car on her 19th birthday – DH feared rematch, but after 10 1/2 cranky months from me – promised “never again!”)

Old China Hand February 22, 2016 at 8:02 am

We loves our first ap but realized that she wasn’t a good fit as our son stopped being a baby and became a toddler. So I was nervous about our next match. I already had a handbook but hadn’t interviewed carefully. With ap2 I was super careful with interviews and we loved her. She was so homesick but successfully completed her year. We are now 1 month into ap3’s year and she isn’t as clean as ap2 but the kids adore her and the librarian and preschool teachers have already told me how lovely she is. So you can be totally satisfied again. You get to be a better manager and screener and it sounds like you will have a good selection of candidates since you don’t need infant qualified and live in a desirable area (we do not).

TexasHM February 22, 2016 at 11:10 am

Great point made about childcare experience vs work experience! I have this conversation with new HFs all.the.time and I am in the work experience camp. We have 3 kids and a busy household. Someone that has oodles of experience nannying a single kid would be knocked off her feet coming into our household. We hire for attitude and train for skill.

I look for APs that have real work experience. Our APs have been: Full time commission only real estate agent that was also a freelance reporter at night for additional income, a conference rep (12-14 hour days on her feet in heels dealing with general public in hectic environment), an ER nurse (enough said) and current AP worked for a caterer to help pay her way in college (again 10-14 hour days with setup, serving, cleanup and breakdown). All thought our AP job was a cake walk (and again, we have 3 kids and up until this year always used the full 45 hours).

Our one burnout AP had not ever had a real full time job but had TONS of babysitting/tutoring experience and 2 of my 3 kids were in school so I thought as long as she was a hard worker we could figure it out. Nope. She crumbled and didn’t even make it a day on her own (and this was after 3 solid weeks of training by previous AP and myself taking off work – when our previous AP mastered the job in 1.5 days). Brutal. Fell apart and major mistakes second day and third day as well. AP1 knew we were going to rematch and felt bad for her (because we struggled with AP1 too) so she begged us to give her yet another chance and stepped in to try to train her and after two days called me in tears begging me to rematch because my kids were not safe. The combination of first real full time job plus all the culture shock, stress, driving, language, living away, etc is too much for many candidate so I hedge my bets by looking for APs that have lived away, had a real full time job and had to hustle, good language skills, solid driving metrics and great attitude.

Emerald City HM February 23, 2016 at 2:16 am

After AP #4 and our reasons for rematch on that one we are solidly in the childcare camp, but must have daycare type experience. Everyone of them except for her had some sort of daycare type experience even if it was only for an internship. She was our trial and hire for attitude and train for skill.

But there is the HUGE caveat of having small children and at the time of AP #4 our youngest was really non-verbal. Which has totally changed since au pair #5 since he actually talks to her like a person, now she won’t stop talking. When all of our kids are verbal enough I will focus less on this aspect.

LuckyHM#3 February 22, 2016 at 1:56 pm

We are on AP3 now and she’s pretty great. AP 1 was great too and I really believed it was really all luck as I didnt really interview that well and we lucked out (I hadnt discovered this wonderful website as a resource then). We chose badly and ended up in rematch for AP2 and used all I learned to select AP3 and we are still going strong in month 7. I do however believe that there’s always some luck involved but there is some interviewing /digging deep skill involved as well as really getting to know what your family needs are at that time, your negotiables as well as non-negotiables. I have to confess that I figured out a lot of these while AP2 was here.

WRT to childcare vs work experience, I have noticed that that prior work experience may be our sweet spot. Our 2 successful APs had just the relevant childcare experience and but had tons of prior actual work experience. AP1’s mother had a accounting firm and from the age of 11/12, she worked a few hours after school, filing, picking up trash etc and by 16 became part time office manager and full time when she graduated from college and came to work every single day.

AP3 has a much younger sibling (12 years or so gap) and her parents run a small business together. She had been taking care of this child since infancy because her mother went back to work asap and by the time she was 16, her father taught her to drive the delivery truck and every afternoon after school, she worked as delivery truck driver delivering produce to customers and business for 4 hours / day / 4 days a week. She was brought up with pride of service and in families, you pull together and work together to achieve any goal and she does that daily in our home even when she’s not on the clock.

AP2 (rematch) on the other hand, had tons of childcare experience but has never worked. She had been an AP several times but has never held down any other kind of work. She felt that she didnt have anything to learn about childcare from me since she knew it all

OP February 22, 2016 at 2:05 pm

Thanks for the responses and advice. I definately did not realize that we had a pretty easy gig when we were interviewing. I also couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to be an aupair :) I did not grow up in the US, but I would never would have chosen to be an au pair. Now that I have hosted and met other au pairs, I sort of see what is so appealling about it. But I still struggle with why someone who is already on a career path with a few years work experience would put that on hold to be an au pair. I have to credit my husband with a lot of the interviewing and vetting success. He is generally a good judge of character, and not shy to ask whatever questions he wants answered. I also kept reading about how important handbooks were, and was advised by my LCC to have one. She pretty much echoed the advise here. But it was difficult as a new host family to imagine what we need the handbook to provide for us and protect us against.

massmom February 22, 2016 at 6:05 pm

I could have written Lucky Host’s Moms letter! We are now with AP #2, who is a total rockstar, when I didn’t think #1 could be topped. We used much the same methods to interview her as we did the first time, but were much more confident the second time around because we had a better sense of what we were looking for and what we needed to clarify upfront.

If you’re an easygoing family and this process worked for you the first time, go with that! We definitely heard from several candidates who were turned off by receiving extremely detailed handbooks early on in the matching process, and they were thrilled to hear that our house rules are pretty simple, straightforward and common sense. Some au pairs might really like having all of the expectations laid out ahead of time, but someone who needs a lot of structure and guidance probably wouldn’t do well in our family any way. We did create a handbook this time around at the urging of our LCC, but it was very short and sweet. I gave it to her at the end of training, just to reinforce all that we had talked about, but I preferred to deliver the information first, in a personable way, with room for questions and plenty of time to digest it.

We look for someone with solid work experience in addition to childcare experience, preferably someone who was on a solid academic track in high school and is planning to go on to university at some point. An au pair year should be a fun break, as long as you’re open to some hard work and responsibility as well. Someone who has worked and saved for something like a car or a big trip in the past always appeals to me, because that tells me she will make the most of her year here and not just spend it at the mall. Chemistry and sense of humor is most important to us.

My biggest tip is to ask to meet the candidate’s family over Skype if you can, if you’re seriously contemplating a match. We find it’s very important that the family is supportive of the au pair experience — and if we were sending our child off to live with a strange family, I would want to know the type of people I was sending her off to! Meeting parents and siblings gives us a good sense of the type of home the candidate comes from, and as we enjoy hosting the families of our au pairs, it gives us an idea of what to expect if they visit. I was shocked to learn that more families don’t do this as part of the interview process! We’ve found it helps create a good feeling all around. And having the new au pair talk to the old au pair is a great suggestion as well — no one knows the job better than your current au pair, and a candidate might be more candid or ask different questions to a peer, so great to get that view as well.

WestMom February 23, 2016 at 1:21 pm

I love to hear everyone else’s approach and suggestions, and how different our approaches may be! I personally avoid speaking with the family if I can. I did with AP1 and AP2, and this will seem super weird but… The families ended up thinking that we now had a special bond, and they can invite themselves to our home, and start sending (and probably expected to receive) holiday cards, gifts, etc. Not that I don’t enjoy these relationships, but quite frankly I could not keep it up after the first few year… and certainly not now in year 8. I am happy to speak with the parents in passing, once AP is here and walking around with her family on Skype, but I definitely try to keep *some* distance between our family and our APs family.

On the other hand, I do ask a lot of questions about family dynamic, relationships with various members and about family support to the AP’s projects. AP’s are usually pretty honest on that front and it can be pretty telling.

WestMom February 23, 2016 at 1:25 pm

I’ll add that unlike massmom, I don’t like hosting visiting family. DH and I are super busy, and our family of 6 lives tightly in our modest home. Not much room or time for vacationing relatives, which I think is at the root of my avoidance to speak with family in the first place. Otherwise, we are very warm and welcoming people, but on our own terms.

hOstCDmom February 23, 2016 at 2:40 pm

I have no interest in speaking to the family- I feel like I am hiring an adult, to do an adult job. I would never ask to or speak with any other adult employee’s parents. I have no relationship with the AP’s parents. As far as what the parents think about the AP being an AP, or matching with any given family – that is between AP and her parents. If they were to visit (after OK’d by me re houseguests, timing etc.) I would be friendly and polite of course, but I view them as *the AP’s* guests, not mine. The AP is responsible for taking care of his/her guests (putting sheets/towels on guest bed, washing, planning meals, activities etc.)

massmom February 23, 2016 at 3:55 pm

Definitely proof that many different approaches can work! We always look for au pairs from my husband’s home country, so for us, the cultural exchange aspect is as important as the childcare/employee piece. It can also be a hurdle to matching, as we are looking for a candidate who is willing to speak their language with our kids. The “family” interview, which we conduct primarily in English, gives the candidate a chance to see that she will be living with a typical “American” family and that we will honor her need to practice and learn English, even when we could communicate more easily with her family in her mother tongue.

Also, we look for a family-oriented au pair, and this is an easy way to identify them. Both of our au pairs said they matched with us because we were the only people to express an interest in getting to know their families…lid for every pot. :)

We really enjoy the family visits and see it as a great part of the cultural exchange. Our first au pair was here two years and had a LOT of family visit, so we learned a lot and now know the limits and rules to set down to ensure a pleasant visit for everyone.

Multitasking Host Mom February 22, 2016 at 6:15 pm

“I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

This is one of my favorite quotes, and I think applies to this situation. I bet the OP probably did more work picking their current AP that they think. Several skype interviews and going with your gut feeling, is not nothing.

And also OP, I can understand the nervousness of looking for your next au pair. I always feel anxiety when I am in the matching process…am I going to pick the right au pair? Just remember you only need one and the next au pair that is right for your family is out there.

Boy AP Frankfurt February 23, 2016 at 11:17 am

I see it as a view point that typifies the American culture that luck doesnt exist. That if we work hard enough then we will see the rewards and, conversely, if we do something wrong it is not a mistake but rather something wrong with that person. It made me smile to read that CV states that having a great partner is not through luck. To me, of all the things I can control in my life, finding the perfect partner is the most dependent on luck. I personally think that ending up with a good family or good au pair is at least in part dependent on luck also. The danger of not realising this is trying to form judgements on applications based on things that probably dont indiciate anything at all in my opinion.

Maryory February 23, 2016 at 4:10 pm

I hope I have luck to find a really nice and loving Host Family, really host mom will be my dream come true, whish me luck :)

AuPair in the Netherlands February 23, 2016 at 5:54 pm

I agree that luck has a huge part to play in it. I am currently an aupair and even though I tried my best through the interview process to make sure that I would be a good match with my host family I was still nervous when I arrived because I knew that it was highly possible that my host family and I would not be a good match. I always see on this site tips that host moms give about picking an aupair but as I am sure you and the host moms know there is no way to absolutely know whether or not the aupair and the host family is compatable. So in my opinion that is where the luck comes in. If you are lucky everything works out great if you are not then most likely it will lead to a rematch.

“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.”

As an aupair who is using this year as a break from college and plans on actually going into a decent career one day I fully disagree with this. This year as an aupair is fun for me. Yeah of course it is stressful at times working with two small kids but that does not mean I am not having the time of my life. I am living in a brand new country meeting new people and experiencing new things. What is not fun about that? Also what exactly makes it so an aupair can’t go into a professional career after spending only one year abroad? It’s only a year and I would think that living abroad for a year would look alot nicer on an application or resume then saying I spent a year in a dorm room. Also I do believe this year is a break from my life and a break from every aupair’s life. I am living away from my family, in a new place, doing something I have never done before. I see that as a break from spending a year in college. And as for job experience well that is up to the host family. I have childcare experience but no work experience because of how much time my multiple extracurricular activities took up. My host family was fine with that but again it depends on the host family so it is not surprising if maybe a host family wanted more. The only thing I would like host families to keep in mind is that alot of the people becoming aupairs are young woman who have not neccessarily had time to gain but so much work experience.

OP February 23, 2016 at 6:17 pm

Based on your comment, I don’t think we are in disagreement on anything. Of course au pairs expect to have fun, why else would they agree to become an au pair? There is no reason an au pair can’t go on to a professional career. In fact, that’s one thing I like about the program. An au pair is required to be a good role model. I’m not saying I want a professional child care provider. My only point is how do I begin to decide if one applicant is better than another? They honestly all look the same to me. When I matched with my au pair, we pretty much picked out the application at random. Once we interviewed and liked him, we carried on talking to him until we eventually were comfortable matching. I only spoke to one other candidate, and looked through a handful of applications. Thanks for your response. It is helpful to hear what motivates au pairs. I think it would be more helpful to ensuring a successful match if au pairs were more honest about this. From the applications I just keep hearing the same thing ‘I want to be an au pair because I just love children so much’

TexasHM February 24, 2016 at 9:58 pm

You might have just exposed another nugget – do you host bropairs? I ask because I have heard from bropairs, my female APs and two agencies that its much harder for a bropair to make it through the process (agencies won’t take mediocre bropair candidates because far fewer families host bropairs as it is and if they go into rematch the odds are far higher that they will get sent home – again, fewer families in total fewer families in rematch). Thus, the overall consensus is that to get your profile accepted as a bropair you better be a rockstar on paper. Whether that is fair is another conversation and as said, this is just something I have heard from those 3 groups repeatedly over the last 5 years of hosting but it does jive with what I have seen. So essentially, the agency might be doing harder screening before they even hit the site, thus again increasing your potential for “luck”. ;) Also might explain why the profiles don’t stand out (harder to differentiate if all of them have substantial experience and references). Just a thought…

Mimi February 24, 2016 at 6:23 pm

It’s possible you got lucky, but I think CV is right and you did more to ensure the success of this match than you realize. Don’t be nervous about future matches. What you see here is mostly the issues, because folks are here for problems and advice. You have a lot going for you by way of location and circumstances that are going to attract some great candidates. Find what works for you and make the most of it to make your own luck. Trust your gut and if you think you’ve made a mistake, don’t be afraid to make a change.

We have been fortunate to have some really great APs. The times we deviated from our “formula” we had issues. I look for DiSC profile, family/size, and other experience. I don’t even look at anything else until they’ve met my criteria for those and then I look at goals/driving/swimming/etc. We have a great matching coordinator who helped prescreen for us early on, but we have a process down now that really works for us. (A few emails, no more than one or two phone calls/Skype sessions. We ask them if their parents have questions or want to “meet” us but no one has ever taken us up on it and we don’t ask to meet parents, but we do ask if their parents support their decision to go abroad.)

I know that many folks don’t get into a handbook like some of us do, but even in a laid-back HH (which I don’t have) it’s an important tool for setting expectations. I think that many HF-AP relationships fail because of mismatched expectations and lack of communication. Given cultural differences, language, etc., setting those expectations upfront is one of the tools I definitely recommend for success.

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