When Facebook Info Raises Concerns: Should She Match, or Pass?

Oh, the complexities of Facebook. And the generation gap. And the generation gap regarding Facebook.

If it’s “true” that “young people” use Facebook differently from us (slightly older) parent people, how much should we infer from an au pair applicant’s Facebook page? Now that many of us ask to ‘friend’ our au pairs and prospective au pairs to get a sense of who they are, how do we take this information into account?

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This question is bothering HostMom Kate, because Facebook has suggested that her incoming au pair may not be the ‘non-smoking, non-drinking’ kind of gal Kate was looking for:

Dear AuPair Moms —

We currently are rematching after 4 months with our second au pair. We found someone from a very far-off land, which really intrigues us. Her English is impeccable. She is 19 and claims to really love children (I know, taking that with a grain of salt). She said she doesn’t smoke. Smoking is a big issue because our current au pair smokes–I missed it in her application. She said she does go out drinking at home (lower drinking age there) but she is fine with not drinking during her year here. I Skyped with her for 40 minutes the other day and felt like we really clicked in a way I never have in an au pair interview before. My husband and I Skyped with her again and decided to match with her.

I asked her (for the second time) to please give me her Facebook info; she had ignored my first email request for the info. She didn’t do it right away and a yesterday, I asked her to please give me the info by this morning. She finally friended me today.

In a couple of her Facebook pictures, many of which are of her and her friends partying, she is holding a cigarette. In one of the pictures, she and a friend are holding up a bottle of Jagermeister with their tongues. There is one album called GIRLS GONE WILD!, last updated 8 months ago but with zero pictures in it. I’m guessing that’s the album she deleted before friending me.

She seems like a really sweet girl. Do I give her the benefit of the doubt or should I cancel the match now? From the experience of the wise moms on this blog, are these issues a clear recipe for disaster or is this a situation that can work out? It’s so hard to find an au pair with great qualifications. I don’t want to toss her out if it isn’t truly necessary.

To fill you in on the background, our current au pair is leaving because she feels I don’t trust her (I caught her smoking on the deck with my 1-year-old baby, she left the oven door open and the baby was an inch from getting horribly burned, she had a minor car accident with my 5-year-old in the car, and she smoked in our au pair car and lied to my face about it. No, I don’t trust her). Other than the trust issues, she has been a hard-working, diligent au pair. Now, though, both trust and smoking are prominent issues for me.

Looking forward to your ideas, HostMom Kate

[Readers, I notice that when I offer a response to a question right at the start, we get fewer comments. But, I think my suggestion is a food one ;-) So, you can either skip my response and jump right in, or add your thoughts to the mixx. cv]

HostMom Kate,

I can appreciate that you want to reconcile the conflicting information, one way or another, before you go through with the match. I think this might be a good opportunity for you to actually test your rapport with this candidate, by Skyping again and bringing up the issue of the smoking in a gentle conversation.

Given that her English is terrific, language won’t be a huge barrier. Even though comfort with technology might influence the dynamic, this would be a good way to see whether you and this au pair candidate will be able to work out difficult issues — before she comes to the states and before you make a big investment in each other. Regardless of her answers, the experience of ‘the talk’ should help you feel comfortable with your decision, either way.

Readers —

Should HostMom Kate give her the benefit of the doubt or should she cancel the match now?  

Are these issues a clear recipe for disaster or is this a situation that can work out?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

CalifMom January 5, 2012 at 11:47 pm

Well, I just passed on a girl b/c she had photo albums linked from a blog that showed her and a bunch of scuzzy looking me friends out on paintball excursions in the woods, tying each other up. To me it was a bleak and depressing view of what she does for entertainment when she has a few days off.

I would be wondering what kind of alley my car would be parked in, and felt I couldnt trust her, didnt want her dark view of life as a role model for my kids.

Fair? Dunno. But I felt better breaking it off even after having offered to match.

Gotta trust your intuition.

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German Au-Pair January 6, 2012 at 1:59 am

You broke off an offered match because she had pictures of her playing paintball? Wow.
They even have au pair meetings playing paintball. Just saying.

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NoVA Host Mom January 6, 2012 at 5:33 pm

I’m pretty sure it was far less the fact that paintball was involved as the “scuzzy-looking” friends and the whole “tying up” part. Paintball – Yes. Weird role playing with questionable-looking people – um, not so much.

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Gianna January 6, 2012 at 7:27 pm

I know that paintballing has been suggested for a meeting in our cluster. But I don’t think they are going to go out into the woods and tie each other up ! It’s a fairly pricey excursion, too.

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CalifMom January 5, 2012 at 11:49 pm

That should read “male friends”.

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LeftBehind September 8, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Maybe talking about it with the AP is the best way – for both stories.

Funny that when I read this post the first thing I did was going on facebook and looking over my pictures – and there’s in fact one picture where in the bottom on a table are two blurred lines, pixelated bottles. If a family would ask me about it, it was the 18th birthday of one of my best friends and our legal drinking age is 18 so there’s no problem for me. If an ongoing HF would have a problem with that I’m not sure what I’d do, they have to believe me when I say I’m not a ‘party goer’ -which I am not- and that for sure I do not get ‘wasted’ -which I don’t.

But there it is again, you’ll have to trust your ongoing AP with what ever she might answers..

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