When Facebook Information Raises Concerns: Should she match, or pass?

by cv harquail on July 7, 2011

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?


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

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, 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 good one ;-) So, you can either skip my response and jump right in, or add your thoughts to the mixx. cv]

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?


Amanda July 7, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Hello! I’m an au pair to be and just felt like saying something about this. I think all au pairs probably have partied, and most of us have photos of that on facebook. I’m from Europe and we have a different culture here than in the US. I think in general parents are more okay with their children drinking and smoking and it’s difficult to go to a country where it’s not as accepted. A lot of people smoke while partying (personally, I don’t) and they don’t “count” it as smoking. That might be why your au pair to be said she didn’t smoke. And I think that is okay, as long as you are only smoking at parties then nobody needs to know about it. Partying is OK as long as it does not affect you job. I think it’s better to keep it in the open because otherwise your au pair will probably do it behind your back.
I agree that Hostmom Kate should talk to the girl. Tell her that she needs to be completely honest with you about this matter, that it’s very important to you because of previous experiences.

A Host Mom July 7, 2011 at 3:46 pm

I personally have no problems with my au pairs partying (I was young too, many moons ago). I do not think someone who parties on the weekend equates to a bad child care provider. However, my concerns about “partying” au pairs involves car use as I am petrified about an au pair drinking and driving (we live in the suburbs, but car service ain’t cheap). Thus far, none of our au pairs have been partyers but who knows what the future holds.

German Au-Pair July 7, 2011 at 3:54 pm

I agree! It might just be a cultural thing. I am not a party-girl, not at all. But even of me there are pictures with a cocktail in my hand. And while I would never ever post pictures like that online (or let those pictures be taken in the first place) and consider myself an absolute non-smoker, I did have smoked a cigarette when having a drink. Just once or twice in my life but still.
It’s just normal here in Europe so when she says she will not party and smoke while being with you, she might just say the truth.
She did tell you about her partying, so she was honest. I would just adress this in a talk and tell her, that you are very strict about those rules.
Don’t let this sour your match when you feel like you have a connection with this au pair.

Nerb July 7, 2011 at 3:30 pm

This post raises a question that I’ve wondered about ~ is it appropriate, common, acceptable etc. to friend a potential au pair on Facebook? My current au pair and I were FB friends after we matched, but then she de-friended me after orientation when she claims that the agency told the au pairs that it was not appropriate for them to be FB friends with their host families. I’m not worried about what FB might reveal that my current au pair is doing since she never.leaves.the.house. EVER! (I digress, that is for another post) Sorry if I took this post off on a tangent, just curious on the FB protocol for host families and au pairs.

Tristatemom July 7, 2011 at 3:43 pm

We have an AP in our cluster, who by reputation, is a big party girl but also a great AP. She gets the job done and has fun in her off-time. That being said, I would not match with such a person because I don’t think my personality would get along with her. As I have learned, to me it is more than getting the job done because you also live together.

Calif Mom July 8, 2011 at 12:17 pm

You hit the nail on the head, Tristatemom. You have to determine what works for you as host parents. We had a fabulous AP whom I did absolutely trust, and who was very responsible (and a great driver) and who was a partyer on the weekends. It worked for us because my hub and I were fine with it and our girls were very young and clueless. I’m not sure all that partying would work for us now that my eldest is in middle school, though. Role modeling starts to matter more as your kids get older. But no matter what, the host parents’ comfort level is key.

Hula Gal July 7, 2011 at 4:05 pm

I think if HostMom Kate does not want an au pair that drinks or smokes even in her free time regardless of how good the au pair is then this is probably not the right match for her. I think this is a pretty high standard to hold for an au pair and you may have difficulty finding a match if that is your standard. But I understand that some host families have more conservative values than other host families.

My husband and I have never had an issue with an au pair that was a social smoker and drank alcohol but she had to follow the rules of the house (no drinking and driving, no oversleeping, no hangovers while on the job, no smoking in the house, near the house or in the car, be home by 10:30 on a work night).

As far as facebook, my husband and I always friend our au pairs and they have never had a problem friending us. If you do not want to friend your au pair that is fine but we insist on it. If they do not want to friend us then we would be concerned about what they are trying to hide about their lifestyle. The way we see it, these girls are going to be living with us. Facebook is a valuable way to learn more about the au pair other than the pretty picture she presents to us. Plus, she can learn about us too (although it won’t be very exciting ;-) ).

NoVA Host Mom January 2, 2012 at 10:54 pm

The thing is, even social smokers still smell of stale smoke the next day, and it gets on their clothes, in the wall paint, in the car… just everywhere. For me the issue is far less the party pics on FB, and more the “I don’t smoke” with a ciggy in her hands. For those with allergies or asthma (or kids with those), a social smoker is as bad as one who is smoking in the house.

Not that we were looking for it, but our second AP not only did not smoke, but she did not drink. She was religious, and it was not something she grew up with in the house. I think there are a fair number of AP applicants out there who could meet that, but like I said for us, it’s only the smoking that is an issue.

Never had a problem requiring no smoking, social or otherwise, and still getting applicants.

azmom January 3, 2012 at 11:36 am

we have a no smoking requirement. i’m super sensitive to smells and DH doesn’t produce tears (has eye plugs), so certain smells, including smoke, sting his eyes because he can’t blink away the smell/dryness. Smelling like smoke or smoking is the same in our home. It just can’t happen.

Returning HM January 3, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Ditto the non-smoking thing for us. My mom died of lung cancer. She was not a smoker, but I saw first-hand the absolute hell that that terrible disease can do to a person and to that person’s family. Anyone who willingly increases her risk of contracting that disease by smoking is not an AP for our family. I am very clear about our non-smoking policy – and our reason for it – in our emails now, as we ended up with a “non-smoking” AP right after my mom died who turned out, despite her assurances to the contrary, to be a heavy smoker (but thought it was OK as long as she didn’t smoke in the house). It’s now easier to say during matching, “We will not have a smoker in our house” and this weeds out anyone who actually does smoke, even socially. We have had no problem attracting great AP candidates even with this draconian policy about smoking, since we’re relaxed about many other things.

anonamomma July 7, 2011 at 4:50 pm

I personally do not friend my applicants on Facebook (and most of them send me friend requests). Yes I know Facebook is a valuable resource but honestly I am a natural worrier and I believe that it is better that I do not know every move my au pair is making (partying, boys, etc) or has made in the past.

I do however ALOT of research, talking, texting, skyping etc during the matching process and go with my gut – I honestly think that if I had friended some of my last au pairs on Facebook I probably would not have matched with them and guess what – they were all GREAT au pairs (even if they liked to party a little!) which IMO is part of the AP year.

So whilst ignorance is not exactly bliss – I find that it is alot less stress!

And another question that I will throw into the mix – where does it stop? Do you browse through a potential AP’s friends’ profile (birds of a feather and all that)?

HM in CO July 8, 2011 at 6:02 pm

I should have read your comments BEFORE I just now looked on my au pair’s home page :)

OP July 7, 2011 at 5:47 pm

This is the OP. Thanks for your replies. Just to clarify, I don’t mind if she drinks or smokes while she’s out; I have been known to do these things myself. I just don’t want another au pair who has to go outside for cigarettes during the day and whose cigarette smoke wafts through the open windows. As for drinking, I don’t want her to drink when she’s driving my car (she is only 19, too).

I think my main concern is getting someone who isn’t who she said she was. I have read many tales of this happening on aupairmom.com. I’m hugely relieved to hear people say talk to her and still match if it goes over well.

I friend my new au pairs on FB *mainly* so they can see pictures of the family and so I can tag them in photos once they are here. I don’t use it to check on up them during their year.

Calif Mom July 8, 2011 at 12:26 pm

A few of my past au pairs have mentioned the great difficulty of some girls in their cluster. There are usually one or two who were partyers back home and then came to the states only to discover that not being able to get into “real” clubs and having to be dry for a year is harder to live with than the eager prospective au pairs imagine it will be.

I think I would not pick this au pair. If photos from partying are that big of a part of her online framing of her life in FB, I think she may be in for a rude awakening when she gets here. Parties for the under-21 set are limited to other au pairs’ basements (or houses of guys who have figured out how much au pairs like to party) or the one or two cheesy under-21 clubs in every metro area. They quickly sour on them. It’s kind of hard to go backward.

BUT, as the brilliant and wise CV said, you will learn much by asking the au pair about this issue herself and seeing what she says.

I do NOT friend my au pairs, except once they go back home–and then I do love that they can keep up with my kids and I get to hear what they are up to.

It’s funny, sometimes my au pair and I will both be standing in our kitchen doing simultaneous status updates. I like having a little distance, and I think it’s important to our relationship that we are not FB friends. Heck, sometimes I wish my hub weren’t on my friends list! :-)

This doesn’t mean I don’t also share with her a particularly brilliant update that cracks myself up–and she shows me pictures of her friends, too. It works well for us both.

DC/MD Mom July 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Just on the sub question of whether to friend or not to friend the AP: this is my approach too — I love to be “friends” with them after they’ve left my house as a way to keep up. But I do NOT friend them, deliberately, while they are with me. I know it would be a negative for me and I’d rather focus on our here and now together and how that’s working.

SoCal Host Mom July 9, 2011 at 10:35 am

Ditto with me!! I am NOT friends with my current AP on purpose. While she is a non-drinker (at 21, she prefers to go out to the library or miniature golfing with her friends instead of to a bar!), but I’ve seen her Facebook photo and her “come hither” look just creeps me out and I have no desire to see the “sexy” side of her. Now… once she leaves this summer, I’ll send her a friend request to keep in touch. Until then, her business is her business… mine is mine. :)

Tara July 11, 2011 at 3:48 pm

I think this thing is unfair: “I think I would not pick this au pair. If photos from partying are that big of a part of her online framing of her life in FB, I think she may be in for a rude awakening when she gets here.”

I don’t upload pics by myself (I’m lazy, and I don’t like to spend my time uploading things in facebook), but my friends always upload their pics and they includes me. Obviously, I have a lot of pics of me in partying, because my friends don’t take me pics when I’m working, sleeping o watching a movie.

I only spend 10% of my week in party.

I think that facebook doesn’t show our life in the real way that it is.

Taking a Computer Lunch July 11, 2011 at 7:52 pm

A HF is unlikely to see your friends’ party pics, unless they tag you and it appears in your headbar. An easy way to counteract that, is to have your family mount pics of you and tag them and ask your friends to remove the tags while you are trying to match. Facebook allows you so many controls, that you are in charge of the image you present.

When HF choose to use Facebook as one of the tools that helps them determine if they have made a good match, you must deal with it appropriately if you think they will be a good match for you. If you have nothing to hide, no bad images of yourself, then no worries. Otherwise, for those of you AP candidates with party picks – if they’re so important to you that you couldn’t imagine deleting them, then you need to understand that you mightn’t be the first choice of many HF, no matter how good your qualifications are. Control your image – if you put your best foot forward in your application, then do it elsewhere!

Josy July 7, 2011 at 5:58 pm

I would keep in mind that drinking does not equal drinking. For example in Germany we have a rather low drinking age (16 for beer, wine and such, 18 for the hard stuff) but also a different drinking culture than in the US. It is not American culture with a low drinking age, it is German culture. The way we see alcohol is just different, while American teenagers often use alcohol as a way to show how cool they are that they somehow managed to get alcohol under 21, in Germany that would be ridiculous because everyone over 16 can buy alcohol, so we only ever drink it if we want to, not to proof something to us or others. And also alcohol is not a taboo topic for kids and teenagers but is always openly discussed and consumed in front of minors so we just grow up with alcohol around and just don’t see it as something that special or desirable. It is just plain old alcohol.
So, yes, of course it happens that young German adults get drunk on the weekend, but we rarely have the intention to drink (as American teenagers might) but rather the intention to dance and enjoy a night out, the alcohol is just something that comes along with that. So that is also a difference in perception, the pictures you think that your Au Pair candidate is drinking on, might be pictures she considers just as simple party pictures where alcohol is in the picture but not the reason it was taken, if that makes sense.
And with that attitude towards alcohol I think it is absolutely doable to go a year without alcohol, even if you drunk it before. I know I could. I drink alcohol at parties but as I said, I go out mainly to party and not to drink, so if I was at a party for under 21 year olds in the USA and there just was no alcohol, I would not miss it. If it was there I would probably drink it, but if there is none that is okay as well. Alcohol is just not that important to me and most other young Germans. And I think that goes for most other west european cultures, too. I just used Germany as an example here because I am German and therefore know our drinking culture best.

Besides that you have to bear in mind: partying is a social activity in Germany. If I want to see my friends, we often just go to a party or club together and we are far away from being crazy party girls. It is not a choice to go partying in Germany but just something you do if you want to see your friends once in a while. When you go partying as a teenager in the USA that is because you really want to do it and have a certain attitude that might not be that desirable for a childcare provider. But if you sometimes or even regularly go out in Germany you are just an average teenager, maybe even a very responsible and intelligent one. As I said: it is not American culture with a low drinking age but it is German culture.

And for the smoking: I know plenty of people who only ever smoke on parties, so even with the photos she might still be a non-smoker in everyday life. Just ask her if she smokes regularly or just at parties, I think that is a very legitimate question you can and probably should openly ask.

Calif Mom July 12, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Um, I’ve been to Germany. You can’t tell me that no German young people drink to get drunk. And you also can’t tell me that every American teenager drinks to get drunk.

Totally agree with TACL — you have to guard your reputation in this world. Might as well start now.

German Au-Pair July 12, 2011 at 1:46 pm

No one who has met German teenagers would tell that. I can’t believe how many people my age I know who are actually proud when they got drunk within half an hour an don’t remember their whole weekend.

Anonamomma July 13, 2011 at 4:52 am

But I think the point Josy is trying to get across that in some cultures – alcohol is just there – a glass of wine with dinner (watered down for children), cider on a summer’s day, a few beers at a party, yes it’s there but in the background – it is not the main event and because of that – the way you perceive alcohol (and lack thereof) is dealt with differently by different people/cultures.

Josy July 13, 2011 at 7:17 am

Exactly, thanks. Of course there are German teenagers that drink to get drunk just as there are American teenagers that handle alcohol responsibly. Sorry if that came across wrong. But in general I would say German (or let’s say European) teenagers handle alcohol more responsibly on average. Because in America teenagers are not allowed to drink alcohol, so the ones that still do it have to jump through a lot more loops to get it than German teenagers have to. So if you finally managed to get the precious alcohol you won’t stop drinking after one glass because then it would not have a big effect and be wasted. So if you drink, you usually drink to get drunk.
Of course German teenagers sometimes do that, too. We are no angels ;-) But since we can buy as much alcohol as we want legally there is no pressure to get as much of an effect as we can out of the little alcohol we somehow managed to get. So on average I think German teenagers are more likely to just have one beer and then stop. So if you find a picture of a German teenager holding an alcoholic beverage it can very well be that s/he was far away from being drunk and in fact only had that one drink that night.

Also, as Anonamomma said, alcohol sometimes is just there in our culture. There are a lot of pictures with me holding a beer or a glass of wine, sometimes even at family meetings or school activities. On most of these pictures (I would say about 98%) I was far, far away from being drunk. Still they are pictures of me drinking alcohol…. And even though I keep them off Facebook because I know some people might misinterpret them, they are nice pictures of an almost completely sober me smiling and having fun, completely unrelated to the alcohol. Without the wine or beer in my hand or in front of me on the table I would definitely post them on Facebook.

So yes, I and probably most other German teenagers drink alcohol regularly and rather casually. But most times we don’t go out to drink but rather to dance. The alcohol is a nice side effect but not the main event. In fact just yesterday I was at a rock music festival where no alcohol was served. I did not miss it. Usually at a normal festival I probably would have had a beer or two but yesterday there just was none and I did not miss it. Alcohol just usually is not that important to me and other German teenagers as it might seem because we admittedly consume it rather often.

German Au-Pair July 13, 2011 at 9:13 am

Ah okay, after that comment I totall agree with you.
Here it’s normal to sit and barbecue and have a beer with your family. It’s absolutely normal to have a school event for siblings you attend with your family and drink a glass of beer there -even with the children around.
It’s pretty common for parents to allow their kids to have a beer while being with the family even when they haven’t reached drinking age yet.
So If a person likes beer (I don’t :D ) there are many many occasions where you could see a young person holding a drink on a family get together and no one would even think about it giving a false impression because it’s just really really normal here.

But I think we’re getting a little off topic here ;)

German Au-Pair July 7, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Oh and I might add that when she’s smart enough to get rid of another album that shows her partying she could have erased this one. She didn’t so maybe it’s just not that big of deal to her.
If she was hiding a smoking habit she would demonstrate REALLY poor judgement leaving this photo online, right?
I did not erase the pictures of me and my friends holding a cocktail when I befriended my HP because I don’t feel like it’s worth hiding as this is not who I am in every day life so I don’t have anything to be ashamed of.

Just go with your guts.

Taking a Computer Lunch July 7, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Ah, the angst of Facebook. Take a look at your page, what does it reveal about you (maybe you play your cards tight – I know I do – you won’t find any pictures of me with friends or even an album on my page – but rather items relevant to my work). I have friended my previous APs, but not my current one. I imagine I’ll friend her after she leaves. There have been too many conversations on this site about HP who are wounded by something an AP has written about them or their families.

Advice to AP candidates and APs — don’t put your party pictures on your Web site. Even if you haven’t friended your HP, unless you lock down the images, friends of friends could see them (it’s easy enough to figure out the degrees of separation). It’s not just potential HP who will see them, it’s your future employers. Once you put something on the Internet, it’s public, so be careful of what you write and the images you post. You might regret it years later.

OP, I think you need to have a frank conversation with this candidate. Air your concerns. Make it clear to her why you went into rematch and why you are struggling with the images you saw. If you’re truly open to someone who parties on her own time, make that clear. Also, detail your expectations and the penalty for infractions. Personally, I think rematch is reasonable for the actions of your previous AP.

To other posters — I don’t think AP candidates are “lying” – they are putting their best foot forward like any other applicant for a job. We all exaggerate our skills, our experience, our capacity to get along with others — and often it works out. But, having seen the party pictures, will you, the OP, be able to erase the images from your mind and trust this AP? After all, there is an enormous amount of trust we HP place on young men and women we have either never met in person or have barely met in person.

APs – we have all been young once. My own mother knew I had been smoking – major asthma attack. That’s one reason why smoking is forbidden in my house or cars – I’m fond of breathing without hospital intervention. And I have had fun drinking alcohol, sometimes a little too much alcohol. Some of my best APs have enjoyed partying, but that didn’t stop me from trusting them with my kids because they knew where to draw the line. The trick is to convey that to your own HP or potential HP – that you know where to draw the line. Unlike your home country, which may have a younger drinking age, the risk of getting caught drinking alcohol in the U.S. is enormous. You may find yourself on an airplane heading home — at your own expense.

The bottom line – I feel the OP should pass, unless she’s truly ready to forget. I think she’ll be second-guessing this young woman from the moment she steps off the plane. And that’s the problem that “digital natives” have that we didn’t – no one immortalized our indiscretions (thank goodness).

Calif Mom July 9, 2011 at 10:16 am

Took your advice, TACL. Mine shows a lot of “latte porn” (photos of latte art from good espresso bars) and kids making goofy faces. Posts feature haiku, work-related harumphs and a few too many self-deprecating remarks. There isn’t a jagermeister to be found. Nothing an au pair would really enjoy.

Europhile July 7, 2011 at 11:38 pm

I second what TACL says.

BTW, I only friend my APs upon their invitation, I never actively friend them. I know many people here have concerns and use FB to dig a bit deeper. When you were young and if FB would have been around, would you have friended your parents? I wouldn’t have, as I see it as my personal (albeit not quite so personal) space.

Georgina July 8, 2011 at 4:45 am

I am about to start my first au pairing job in Australia (I am from england) and my host mother friendship requested me. At first I was anxious because three years of university invariably involves a lot of parties. However, although I have been known to be a bit of a party girl, I have absolutely no doubts that I will be responsible and hardworking. The fact that I have been known to party should not infringe upon whether I will be a good au pair or not. Life as a young person without responsibilities is completely different to life as a working au pair. However, I feel you should skype with her again, gently discus your concerns and see whether you feel there is enough trust there. Any doubts must be discussed from both parties. In short, don’t judge her over a few photos because she could actually be the perfect match for you. Best of luck!

Courtj July 8, 2011 at 6:29 am

As others have said, you need to have a conversation. At the end of the year with my first AP I had no trust left for her mostly because we didn’t talk about these things upfront. I feel now is the time to build the rapport and foundation for the relationship for the year. If you can’t ask her about the pictures, will you be able to speak with her while she is here and you have a problem wi something?

As we welcome out third AP I feel like we have already started our conversation about what it will be like for her year with us. She likes to party and that is fine, but I don’t want her to be anything like our first AP. I explained the problems with our first AP to her and told her that we wouldn’t stick out the year again if it wasn’t working.

After I have decided upon a candidate I leave it up to them to decide if we are the right family for them and I use FB as a sort of test. If they friend me I feel they are more than likely a peson I can trust because they are willing to communicate with me openly. It doesn’t mean they aren’t hiding pictures or posts, but it does give me an idea of who they really are. I also give them a chance when they get here to unfriend me, if they unfriend or block me during the year it erodes my trust in them…obviously hiding something or the relationship has turned for the worse (yes, paranoid).

Hope you work this out.

NorAupair July 8, 2011 at 6:39 am

I agree with German AuPair on the drinking matter. I grew up in Denmark and Finland, and we also have a different point of view on this. However I think, that the photos shouldn’t discourage you, just bring it softly and ask if she is smoking regularly or just social. About the FB befriending..I have to admit that I don’t add my HF unless they friend me (and if so, I don’t restrict their access to my photos,posts etc). I have nothing to hide honestly,but mainly I use my FB for my 2nd job,I’m a manager of a well known metal band . So in my page HF can see photos from gigs, updates, but also a lot of posts by friends who mainly are ”metal boys”, you know..long hair, tatoos etc. Now because I know that this could sound horrible to a HF, before matching I always inform in depth my HF about managing the band and what this means. As for me, you could never imagine that I do this job, or that I listen to this kind of music if you see me, meaning that I don’t support the ”metal/rock looks” myself. Yes I do post favorites songs and get comments, or post a ”crazy” photo,but that’s me in my real life, and this does not make me a less good au pair.Honesty is a key to a good match.Bottom line is that I never mess things up. I operate like a true family member in every aspect, I receive true love and appreciation from my HF’s, and I do my utmost to be a great au pair, far beyond the work context. And this is why I have such great friendships with my ex HF’s, great references, and most of all my heart full of love and unforgettable memories.

The truth is I never had any problems (I’m an au pair in Norway, and have been au pair in Europe many times but not in the US), and my current family is enthusiastic about it, they know the owner of a big rock venue in our area and on a Saturday evening we went together there, and they introduced me,and finally I booked a gig for my band :).

One more thing I would like to add. Don’t judge from a FB page, or don’t let it count so much.Some times people use their FB to present theirselves as a different personas than they are in real everyday life (but this raise another issue as well), so think about it as a hint.

Janicke July 8, 2011 at 6:18 pm

I have been living (and partying) in both Finland, Denmark and Germany. Most people I know would agree that the Finnish and Danish drinking culture differs significantly from the German. From a German perspective, Finns and Danes drink a lot and become totally wasted. ;) Kippis, skål and Prost – I don’t care about it, but you cannot compare Northern European drinking culture with German.

I asked my (Finnish) doctor the other day if I could drink alcohol whilst taking a long-period medication. She answered that I cannot fuddle because the medicin reacts on alcohol. I replied that I hadn’t been thinking about getting drunk, but about taking an after-work beer or drinking some sparkling wine with my friends. Her answer was: “Oh, sure, you can drink in a European way, that’s not a problem at all”.

NorAupair July 9, 2011 at 5:05 am

Yes, that’s true, :) that’s why I wrote that ”we also have a different point of view on this” and not the same point of view. Scandinavians are considered heavy drinkers (especially on Fridays/Saturdays) but then again each one of us has different drinking habits.
Skål :)

mouse July 8, 2011 at 8:15 am

I hope to become an au pair in the States in November…
I’m from Denmark – like others said, we have er low drinking age, we don’t use it to prove anything. It’s just a part of having fun.

With this I would like to say that, I have not removed any of my pictures with me holding a drink or a bottle. I’m a girl who only drinks maybe once every third months. I only drinks, when I’m around family or near friends. Not because I’m worried to get too drunk. But because I like to have fun with those people.

An example: When we graduate in Denmark, it’s tradition to ride in a horsewagon or a truck, with your class. We go around to all the parents and congrats them with their “childs” graduation. We get a lot to drink! But in those pictures – I look, so happy! I was so proud of myself, and we celebrated. Eventhough there are pictures with me and drinks/bottles I will not remove them. Because my graduation is one of the most importent things in my life. It’s what and who I am.

HF’s should take that as a considerration when they friend an applicant. Don’t just look at the bottles. Ask what it was, was it a special day or your everyday life? There’s a huge different!

Just something I needed to get out. I know our cultures is different.

“Don’t judge a book, by its cover!”

NorAupair July 8, 2011 at 8:29 am

In Norway we have the Russ ;) I was in Norway my last year (I have Norwegian/Danish origins, but due to my dad work, we were moving almost every 3 yrs along Scandinavia). I have also pictures from the last week wearing the red pants and holding a bottle, and as mouse said I look so happy in those pics and I wont delete them for any reason!! I wish you all the best to your year in the US!! :)

Anna July 8, 2011 at 9:00 am

I might not be totally objective, because we rematched with our previous au pair because of her lies, one of them that she didn’t smoke. When we found out, she claimed she didn’t lie on her application because she didn’t smoke in her country. When we found out that was a lie too, she said she didn’t lie on her application because she was not addicted…. By the way she was also 19 from a far off land… And during the interview I had no doubts I loved her. Here though, she really lost her head over friendships and going out – I like them to have social life, but in her case social life overtook work hours at the expense of my children’s well being and safety. She just couldn’t stop and control herself, and the lies….

Our current au pair, here only a month and so far so good, in a conversation when already here, mentioned that she sometimes smoked a cigarette when out with friends, but she is not a smoker. I got upset because on her application it was marked she was not a smoker! Some of it might be cultural; in her country where many smoke daily, this kind of thing could be social….

I think if you really like this girl, discuss your concerns with her. Also try to judge the level of her maturity. Even with the best intentions, will she be able to be responsible when she is far away from home? Will she lose her mind like my au pair did? I think you should talk to her references, and ask her for those not listed on her application. Talk to her mom even.

Gianna July 8, 2011 at 9:17 am

I think FB is a great invention and I think that as time goes on we will all learn to use it very effectively. Many people use it for business and professional purposes and as a consequence, think very carefully about what is for public display. A potential AP is a someone who is looking for a serious position which will hopefully add snap to her resume. There are lots of privacy settings. So I don’t see a problem exspecting an aupair candidate to think carefully about what she puts on FB and I don’t think it is inappropriate for host parents to want to have a look-see. It is a different kind of resume but it is a resume nevertheless. Why throw the baby out with the bathwater ?
I think that the OP might be better off moving on if there are other good candidates.
If these concerns develop into problems later, it will be very painful to look back and remember that you saw the problem now and blinked. Many partiers are terrific people ; that doesn’t mean that it is the right match for this situation, now.

JJ Host Mom July 8, 2011 at 1:32 pm

I think you could use this as an opportunity to have an upfront conversation with this au pair and see how well you both do at resolving conflict and being honest with one another. Tell her what you’ve told us here and see how she reacts. If she closes up and doesn’t talk, probably best to move on. If it begins an open and honest conversation, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship…

Personally I would pass, because when I say “no smoking” I mean “no smoking, ever, including an au pair’s free time.” I don’t want an au pair smelling like smoke and bringing smoky clothes into my home. I have no problem with drinking and partying within reason. If I were in your position, that’s what I’d say. But it sounds like you have different standards than me, and that this au pair could work for you, given good communication and honesty.

PA AP mom July 8, 2011 at 2:18 pm

No smoking is a huge deal for our family because my oldest son has a VERY severe smoke allergy. We can’t have an AP that smokes, even socially, because it remains on her clothing, in her hair, etc.

That said, we make it clear, from the start, that we have a ZERO tolerance policy for smoking. It hasn’t been an issue for any of our 4 au pairs.

The drinking doesn’t bother me. We drink alcohol socially and I expect that the au pairs will want to as well. We are clear about our expectations regarding no drinking and driving and we have only had one issue in 4 years.

I FB friend all of my APs. I like to be able to see their travel pictures and the pictures they take with my boys. I also like them to be able to see mine. Our best AP was facebook friends with all of our extended family, and still is, even 2 years later.

anonmom July 8, 2011 at 3:44 pm

There is a lot of good feedback here, but the bottom line comes down to whether OP feels comfortable with having THIS AP in her family. If, after speaking with the AP again, she is satisfied, then she can make that decision. Basically, it all depends on her tolerance level, obviously based on her prior experience, it is an issue of concern for her. As for me, I hate lying. There is a fine line between hiding behind the ‘I’m a social smoker’ and I am a nonskoer. Either you smoke, or you don’t- period/ I have seen AP’s say that they smoke only when they go out to clubs, etc. For me it is a non-negotiable factor. Unfortunately, I did have one au pair who was very good, who I discovered lied to me, she tried to tell me the cigarettes were for her friend (when I found them as they fell out of her bag). She, too, was a social party girl- and the realization of not being able to go out as much as she did back home was more than she thought she thought. She never smoked at the house or in my car, nor did she ever carry cigarettes again into my house as she was told. She smoked ‘when she went out’ to drink at clubs or parties, but it didn’t stop her from forgetting and bringing cigarettes into the home in her bag that day. My girls are older now, and role modeling is much more important to me. It all depends on OP’s comfort level. And, if this AP does only smoke socially, whether the OP is comfortable with the knowledge that she may actually have cigarettes in the home or in the car.

Carlos July 8, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I recomend you to give her the benefit of the doubt. I’m a male au pair waiting for a match (I say this always so you can identify from who is coming the opinion)

I can say this because you just described one of my best friends who has been there for 8 months with a family that LOVE HER! she’s thinking about extending and she’s not even 21 and she smokes, she drinks and she likes going to parties.

She always tells me that the family is very happy with her, I guess they don’t mind that as long as it doesn’t affect the kids, she’s taking care of a baby and of a 4 year old kid.

Whit this I can say that sometimes it doesn’t affect directly your year as an au pair, she hasn’t had any problems with her “bad habits” and instead she has gained the aproval of her current host family for 8 MONTHS!… so… I strongly recomend that you give her the benefit of the doubt :)

Carlos July 8, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Hey, there’s something that I missed, my friend didn’t delete anything (not that I remember) from her facebook when they friended her… and your potential au pair did… that changes some things… IDK.. I supouse you need to be honest =/…

Janicke July 8, 2011 at 6:07 pm

I think the deleted facebook file is an issue, not the pictures where you can see her smoking. I’d call her again and ask a) why she hesitated to become your facebook friend in the beginning b) what pictures she was trying to hide at facebook, c) about her smoking habits and d) why she didn’t mention the smoking when you were talking with her.
Personally, I don’t understand why potential au pairs are lying about their smoking or drinking habits.

When I was an au pair, I still smoked. None of my host families (I was three times an au pair, once for one year and twice for the summer) asked me about my smoking / alcohol habits. However, when they asked me if I had any questions, I mentioned that I was regularly smoking and that I most likely won’t stop smoking whilst living at their place. I also mentioned that I liked to party – on weekends or when I have a day off. When I arrived, I asked where I could smoke and where I shall ditch the butt. It wasn’t an issue as they knew about my smoking habits and they appreciated that I asked for a proper place to smoke. Though, haha, one of the families showed me a place behind their house and they even bought me an ashtray. Some days later, the mother asked me for a talk and said she was disappointed that I had been smoking inside their house. I hadn’t. It turned out that the very place she showed me was right beneath the air conditioning system and that the smoke had thus circulated through every single room. I couldn’t help it, I was laughing till the tears were running down my checks. She was very embarrassed and very sorry for suspecting me, and relieved that I was laughing. She also started to laugh and that story became the running gag of my au pair time. It had actually been better if I had been smoking in my room than beneath the air conditioning system. ;)

Back to the topic, I appreciate mutual respect and openness. I would talk with her and based on the way she is reacting to my questions taking my decision.

Gianna July 8, 2011 at 10:58 pm

I think it is wonderful that you and your host mom came to terms about this situation and could laugh together. I think that some host parents would say that this is the reason that they do not want to negotiate about smoking ( inside,outside, in the car, sometimes, just at parties, not in front of the kids, etc .) Smoke travels. It lingers. It gets into the vents and spreads through the house. There are some people who cannot even consider a smoker in their family and others who are willing to make exceptions. Sometimes people who are former smokers themselves will allow smoking outside the house.

Janicke July 9, 2011 at 3:53 am

Yes, I also appreciated that we could “laugh the situation away”.

mouse July 9, 2011 at 2:19 am

I acctually really like this topic, Because as a future aupair-to-be you will be much more aware of the FB situation.
But still I won’t help OP with her situation. So my advice would be to confront her. You have to ask. If you feel more comftable afterwards, then see her as a maybe and have one more talk without mentioning this album. If you still feel the same way, then move on to the next one.
You also have to be aware, that “we” are young people, from another country and culture. If she has deleted an album called “Girls gone wild” it would be most likely some pictures that you wouldn’t “like” But this is from her background in her homecountry. Not from her au pair life. I think the reason could be because it puts her in “bad light” but seriously we all have had taken”bad” pictures and been tagged and then we have untagged ourselves again. Albums is another talk, but confront her, rather do that. Than getting the “wrong” au pair.

Melissa July 9, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Oh, so much to say on this topic…..We don’t smoke in our household and limit our searchs to APs that indicate they don’t smoke on their applications. While I would be perfectly fine with an AP who is a social or occasional smoker, as long as it does not impact us or her job, I just don’t want to take that risk that we wind up with someone who is a little more dependant on it than she let on and has to duck out of the house to get a puff now and then. It’s just not worth the potential headache. We did have one AP who said she was a non-smoker, but I found out by overhearing a conversation that she was dying to get out of the house to ‘have a smoke.’ It never impacted her job and she never smoked in our house or car and honestly, I probably would have never known, but it definitely eroded my trust in her because I felt like she had this big thing that she had been hiding from us.

Regarding alcohol, HD and I enjoy alcohol and rarely have an evening or a meal out without a glass or two of wine, so we are perfectly fine with an AP who likes alcohol as well. However, we have issues when we feel like we have a mega-partier who may or may not use good judgment, which could open up risks like drunk driving, etc. Also, because we often have wine at dinner, it just feels funny to not be able to offer our AP a glass. And although we really aren’t opposed to an under 21 AP drinking in her off time, we just don’t want the risks that come along with underage drinking, and therefore will no longer host anyone under 21. The one AP we had under 21 was the only one we had social life issues with – go figure.

I definitely want to see my potential APs Facebook page, and would be very suspicious if she resisted. I never used to friend my APs, and am a very limited FB user myself, but after I saw the FB page of our one mega-partying AP (after she was living with us), I swore I would have never matched with her had I saw it beforehand. Overall, she was very good regarding childcare and household duties (so she did her ‘job’ well), however, we spent a frustrating year struggling with household rules, curfews, car restrictions and had someone who was out the door the second she was off. Not the type of ‘member of the family’ fit we look for.
One other thing about FB — any maybe I am showing my age or uncoolness here, but I don’t see why it is assumed that young adults HAVE to post their crazy, sexy or partying pictures on FB. I get that you have some crazy times in your 20s, I certainly did too, but my friends and I weren’t compelled to immortalize our compromising moments on camera, let alone make them public. Maybe I’m being unrealistic, but to me, a lot of partying pictures on FB just shows bad judgment.

The OP said her potential AP is from a far off land with great English, so it doesn’t sound like some of the Europe comparisons are applicable in this case. We also had several APs with perfect English from South Africa – the ones that fit best with us were those that had the sense to not be embarrassed if their parents saw their FB page.

anonamomma July 10, 2011 at 4:46 am

I understand your sentiments when you see why young adults HAVE to post their crazy pics unline but IMO this statement is showing that some of us are a bit outdated. The simple truth is – it is now popular culture to do so. FB is a tool that many people use to keep in touch with friends and family across the world (and you BBF who lives 10 doors down!) but it is now engrained it would seem into our society, even political leaders now have FB pages (Obama anyone!)

As for posting the wrong types of pics well isn’t that just youth and niavity coming together.

Honestly – I really believe that HP’s should really think very carefully about looking at a FB page – because there usually is something (big or small) there that they won’t like and is it worth spending the year thinking “Gosh, when is this lovely girl going to turn into a crazy party lady” – that’s why I don’t do it.

I have a dare to match with me policy – and believe me my incoming au pairs are well aware of the rules of the house and the consequences of abusing them before they arrive. They are also fully prepared on what exactly they can expect. I on the other hand send out three batches of very particular questions followed by countless emails, skypes, texting, etc – some of my Skypes are very early on Sat/Sun morning – not the best time for party animals! and I really feel I know my AP’s before they arrive.

But like I said before I’ve seen my previous au pair’s FB pages after they left and honestly I would not have matched with her – all the pics were her partying! and she was an amazing AP – my advice – don’t do it.

mouse July 10, 2011 at 4:47 am

I can see your point. But is it bad judgement to celebrate? an example is my graduation, I have pics where I and my classmates have bottles in our hands.
The pics are our memories. Does that show bad judgement, just because of bottles and smiling faces??

Just wondering :)

anonamomma July 10, 2011 at 9:34 am

Of course it is never bad judgment to celebrate your achievements and hey I encourage alot celebration with my AP’s! but sharing evidence of the celebrations is another matter.

Sharing the celebrations with friends (good) – sharing celebrations with potential employers (bad or maybe really bad) – quite simply it depends on the context.

If you know or think a potential employer may want to see your FB page – then yes it is bad judgment to have these pics displayed (or not to set the privacy settings so they can’t see certain albums – and I believe you are perfectly entitled to keep part of your life private even to your HF (as long as your are an appropriate canditate to be an au pair and there are no big issues – eatings disorders, etc). You do not have to share your entire FB page – you may have a few albums that you would prefer only share with your friends and if the settings are done correctly nobody can tell that there is extra material there.

This is why I think it is unfair of HFs to request to see an AP’s FB page – because we are judging canditates as a potential employer – which is not the mechnism FB was designed for and not the manner is which it is commonly used – it was designed as a SOCIAL networking website not a PROFESSIONAL networking site.

So for me – I leave it alone – don’t want to see it until the AP leaves and then we can be friends – but while she is here or on the way – she is not my friend. I personally feel that scoping her out FB is a bit invasive – and I agree with the poster who said that their LCC said it is not appropriate for APs and their HF to be friends on FB.

Melissa July 10, 2011 at 5:52 pm

I view selecting an AP very differently than I do hiring an employee, so although she is my employee in one sense, she is also a member of my family for the year she lives with us, a role model to my girls, a representative of us to others, and hopefully someone who I will grow to respect as a person and possibly a friend. I work from home and we take our AP on vacations with us, so I wind up spending a lot of time with them. I don’t want to be BFFs, but I’ve found that I’ve had a much more enjoyable year, with a lot less headaches, when I actually LIKE the person that lives with us and we have we have personalities that are not complete opposites. We’ve also found that character qualities are much more significant in determining whether a potential AP is a good fit for our family than childcare experience. Everyone’s selection criteria is different, of course, but that seems to be what works for us. So in that regard, FB is a good window into the type of person we’re matching with. If they do have photos or info on their profile that is inappropriate, hopefully they will be smart enough to make those items private.

Melissa July 10, 2011 at 6:08 pm

I definitely think that photos of celebrations are appropriate and a wonderful way to share your important moments with family and friends. It’s more of a question of degree and interpretation, I guess. To me, photos of friends at a birthday party, graduation, or just hanging out holding drink glasses or bottles wouldn’t bother me in the least. If those were the ONLY types of pictures that a potential AP had on her page, without other pics showing a balance in her life, like vacations, family members, pets, whatever, I would be concerned. Likewise, if the celebration pictures seemed to be extreme or embarassing — e.g., body shots, someone pouring beer down her throat, passed out, grabbing friends body parts, etc., I would be concerned as well. In my opinion, hard partying and just having fun are two different things.
The other thing that can be bothersome, which I think was more the OP’s original concern, is whether someone’s FB profile shows a very different image than what they convey to potential HFs. If an AP says she never smokes or drinks, and then there are tons of pictures showing the opposite on FB, that raises a flag. I would either have a conversation about it or pass.

3rd time HM July 9, 2011 at 10:42 pm

I think we need to let these young people have their privacy and their fun. It is for this reason that my husband and I do not ask our prospective or current au pairs to be friends on FB. We think it is wrong to force au pairs to be our FB friend. We were all young at one time and our private pictures and exchanges with guys and and girls would have probably bothered grown-ups as well. Fortunately for our generation, we had more privacy. We could put our photos safely away and our statements were not part of a permanent electronic record. It is challenging to be young these days and to be aware of the impression that one gives with their FB page. We would clearly be concerned if we thought our au pairs had a serious alcohol problem or smoked regularly. Our approach to this issue (partying) is to have clear curfews. We have a weeknight curfew of 11 PM and a weekend (Friday, Saturday) car-curfew of midnight. We, however, do not kid ourselves about the weekends. Our au pair is out many Friday and Saturday nights until late and she usually spends the night elsewhere because we conveyed that we do not like anyone entering the house after midnight. What happens on those nights is anyone’s guess but what is important is the excellent job she does when the new workweek rolls around on Monday morning!

boysmama July 10, 2011 at 11:46 am

Our nightmare AP was indeed a Girl Gone Wild, but we couldn’t have known from Facebook since the girl literally made up an alter-ego page for us, all peaches and cream, you wouldn’t believe how deceptive photographs can be. She lied to us about absolutely everything, and we thought she was a great match from our interviews. If you don’t want a Girl Gone Wild, don’t take one who was proud to title photos of herself and her friends with that title. Taking an AP into your home is a big deal, you need to consider all the information you have.

Pia aupair July 11, 2011 at 7:57 am

one thing you also might wanna consider is that i for example usually only upload photos from special events. that said i have been an aupair in the states for two years. i can count my party nights on one hand but you can see photos of three of them on facebook.
I was a party girl here in my home country but it was just not the same in the US so i barley ever went to a club and enjoyed dvd nights or TGI Fridays with my friends instead.
An au-pair year changes you and your habits you have to adapt yourself to a new situation
so whoever she is in her home country she might not be while staying with you.
I now help future aupairs with their applications and our agency makes them per agreement non-smokers. i remind each girl of that but i am sure that one or the other does smoke. I always suggest to take the chance and just quit. smoking is a habit that comes along especially in situations you are used to e.g a cigaret with the morning coffee. but all you every day situations change when you go to a foreign country and live with strangers so you get new habits and can drop the old ones pretty easily.

JJ Host Mom July 11, 2011 at 12:59 pm

No. Smoking isn’t merely a habit. It’s an addiction. An au pair should never match with a family thinking they’ll “just” quit once they arrive in their new home. I think that’s what was going on in our previous au pair’s head, and he found himself on a swift ticket back home the second time he came home smelling like smoke. If you smoke, then make sure your family is okay with it, or don’t be an au pair. Please.

Taking a Computer Lunch July 11, 2011 at 7:43 pm

I agree. AP candidates tend to underestimate the enormous stress they’ll undergo in adapting to a new culture in the home of a family. If you have an addiction to cigarettes that is limited to one with a morning coffee and a few with friends in clubs, it won’t go away during your year in the United States. If anything, the urges will be stronger as your body and mind deals with the stress. It is always better to be up front and honest about smoking with U.S. HF, even if it limits your opportunities to match. No HF wants to deal with a smoking AP who misled them in her application, even if she honestly thought she could quit. Quit, spend a year not smoking, and then apply to become an AP. Really.

NJnanny July 12, 2011 at 10:32 am

To add some perspective on the whole FB friending thing… I generally take the tack that I will add someone who’s considering me for a position with their family, largely so that they can get a better idea of who I am as a person. I write a lot of notes about things that are important to me, update my status frequently (maybe too frequently… lol) and post photos of what’s going on in my life. I will say, though, that I did some editing before adding the HM of the family I’ll be joining in the fall, not to erase scandalous photos (I’d be considered squeaky clean by anyone less conservative than the amish), but to erase some of the off-hand complaints from hard days on the job. Since becoming friends with her, I’ve also toned down some of the links I post about religious things because the family is Atheist. I think FB exaggerates who we are a little and I don’t want them to think I’m this crazy religious nut when I’m really not.

FormerAupairCaro July 13, 2011 at 10:37 am

I am no partygirl at all, I prefer cooking with my friends. But once in a while I also wanna go out and have a drink or two just to get distracted. And even when I am cooking with my friends we are having a glas of wine. I am now 24, when I was in the states I was 19. It was okay for me not to be able to drink. Of course there were moments where I did have a drink but I never got drunk and the “having a drink”-moments were rare. But I didn’t miss to go out into a club. I think that’s part of the cultural experience.

Concerning the Facebook issue. I would not like to friend my hostfamily before or when I’m in the states. It doesn’t have anything to do with me being a partygirl but with keeping a bit privacy for myself. There is a reason why I keep all my information private. You can’t even find me when you’re looking for my name. I also google myself to see if there is anything on the internet about me, photos etc. As I say I don’t do this to hide anything, but it is private. I don’t like the thought that my employer or future employer can just look me up and know soo much about me without even really knowing me. Of course it is not only an employer-employee-relationship with the hostfamily but you are with them every day and most of your time, which is wonderful (most of the times), but it still also is work.

Now that I am back I am happy to be friends with my hostfamily on FB. But that’s ok, I love that there is an easy way to keep in touch with them and to see pictures of the kids.
When I was an aupair Fb wasn’t that big of a deal then it is now. I knew my hostparents were on it but I never thought of adding them to my friends. I know from one aupair friend that her hostdad registered with the german equivalent of FB (studiVz) when she’s been in the states for months already. I found that very strange, it had something from controlling their aupair. I think that’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed.

And btw I wouldn’t feel comfortable with being friends with my parents on FB either :-)

I think it is hard and easy at the same time to judge someone on FB. I think you should definitely talk about the smoking part (on the contrary I wouldn’t like to find out that my HP are smokers if they said they weren’t). But don’t judge too hard with the pictures. I have a folder with pictures on the German Fb that says girls gone wild, and it shows us making pizza…just my 2 cents

Gianna July 14, 2011 at 7:08 pm

This last post makes a very interesting point. Is “Girls Gone Wild ” a template name that people select because it is catchy ? I see some albums from a former aupair with album titles that sound like a professional PR writer created them. I have never understood where such clever titles came from. The content might be very mild. I can imagine friends of mine thinking it funny to set up an album called ” Moms Gone Wild “.

Melissa July 14, 2011 at 11:19 pm

“Girls Gone Wild” is a film business that became known in the late 90s & early 00s by their popular late night tv commercials advertising films where young (& often intoxicated) women would expose themselves or do other questionable acts in front of camera crews in popular spring break or vacation areas (think beads at Mardi Gras). Essentially low-key/borderline, cheap porn. The film company gave away t-shirts & caps sporting the logos & “girls gone wild” and it became a bit of a catchphrase. Hopefully our APs who sport the title on their FB pages are familiar with the phrase and not the story behind it (we could only hope…).

Josy July 15, 2011 at 7:48 am

I have a few pictures of me and my friends with beauty masks and cucumbers in our faces and shaving cream on our legs and so on. The whole beauty program. I can imagine that I would title those photos “Girls gone wild” if I ever uploaded them to Facebook just as I could imagine erasing them when a potential host family friends me. Those pictures are perfectly innocent but I really don’t need a potential employer seeing me in my pajamas with green paste in my face and shaving cream on my legs making strange faces for the camera…..

Besides in Europe it is a popular habit to give things names in English that don’t make much sense because it sounds catchier than in our native languages. And personally I am of course familiar with the phrase “girls gone wild” but not with the background story Melissa posted. And I think that is true for most girls.

Sela July 18, 2011 at 8:17 pm

I am an au pair (age 19), and honestly I think that this behavior is unacceptable. While partying can be harmless, this girl should realize that any employer she may have can access her facebook and whatever she posts on it is a direct reflection of her values. If an employer is friends with you, you need to keep your facebook appropriate. I wouldn’t rule her out completely, but I do believe that there needs to be communication with her about this. At the very least, she’ll learn from this experience.

4 ever mom October 24, 2011 at 10:27 pm

I had to come back and read the comments on the FB dilemma due to the fact that I continue to struggle with what happened to me this year (I am formerly 1st time HM). My current AP friended me prior to her arrival. She wanted me to see her family, her pictures, her “I’m so happy to be coming” posts and so forth. The minute she arrived she blocked me from her posts so I can only see her profile picture…..however, certain posts became visible on my wall. In fact, the they were negative comments about her stay here. At first I did not think the “blocking” was an issue, it is her right for privacy, however, I am not one to play games and have random negative comments appear on my wall as a thread in her conversation to one of her friends…so and so commented on so and so link…Not only do I dislike the game of the message giving, I am not dumb either. I understand the privacy features on FB and know that she may have made these comments visible to me for a purpose. (she will not talk to HM or HD about anything) I have actually called her out on her comments and she acted two ways. First, that she did not understand what I was talking about, and secondly that I was crazy. Of course when I went back to look and show her, the posts were blocked and she says she does not use FB anymore and that is why there is nothing there. I was not born yesterday. She changes her profile picture at least 2x a week, so I know she uses FB and is playing games with me. It stopped for a while after we had a MAJOR meeting and I almost requested a re-match(I was the orginal poster on uncommunicative AP turns passive aggressive) and there was no strange tension for a couple of months….well, she is here for only 7 more weeks and the drama is begining again and she is laying it on thick! everyday there is at least on passive aggressive comment about the house, USA or her experience here (I need to look up the aurea laws, I work 20 hours a day and so forth) and then there are posts about loving the children and tags on photos she posted to me……then it magically disappears. My husband just started taking screen shots of the comments and saving them. I do not even know if it is worth addressing at this point. I am so over her. I welcomed her with open arms and an open heart and now I am very guarded in my approach to her and have had a change of heart about her. I really did not want this to end on a bad note and I feel that it is going in that direction. With this said, I did match with a new AP who will arrive in January. I did not friend her on FB and she did not request me. I do not want to taint that relationship from the start. I would have welcomed the idea of us “sharing” info about one another but I definetly not allow the same situation to happen to me again. In fact if someone defriends me or blocks me on FB I usually have no need to communicate with them again…..but what happens when they live in your home and your trust has been violoated? quess I have to read more on the psychological contract topic. Please tell me if this is ridiculously absurd of me to rant about or if I should rightfully complain and address, as I need to make it through the next 7 weeks. Thank you :)

AnnaAuPair October 25, 2011 at 3:33 am

don’t worry: this is NOT “ridiculously absurde” AT ALL! I marvel at your patience with her – I don’t know if I would have stuck with her that long.
Anyways. I would definitely adress this – even with “only” 7 weeks left. 7 weeks can be quiet long if you feel uncomfortable. Especially, because I could imagine her posts getting even worse in the way of “thank god I’m out of here soon” or so.
I guess I would talk to her about how you don’t want it to end on a bad note but that you feel that it’s going that way.
I really hope you’re new AuPair is going to be different and that you will experience the kind of relationship with her, where you (maybe even only in theory) would trust each other with being friends on facebook.

Taking a Computer Lunch October 25, 2011 at 7:33 am

In my experience (on AP #7 in 10 1/2 years), the last few weeks before departure are full of emotional upheaval. I’ve written about this several times elsewhere. Even when the AP is mature and has bonded with the family, she prepares to say goodbye to the family and that emotional response may appear immature. Not only is she saying goodbye to you, she’s saying goodbye to her friends, some of whom she won’t see again (even if they live in the same country). Now is the time, as a HP, to check your anger at the door, take a deep breath, and attempt to have a rational conversation.

You need her to be there for your children for the next 7 weeks. You need to understand her need to say goodbye, but it is also important for her to understand that she still has a job to do. Be open and forthright. Talk about her schedule for the next 7 weeks and ask her (if she’s not working a 45-hour weekday week) if there are any particular weekends she would like to have off to be with her friends. Go through the schedule with her, and then, quietly, ask her not to write about your family in any public forum, that if she has a problem, to speak with you about it so that you may end the year without anger and recriminations.

In my experience as a HP, I find myself wanting to pick apart every little thing in the last few weeks I have with an AP. I check my annoyance at the door. It does no good. Vent with DH and let it go.

kat October 25, 2011 at 10:24 am

to be honest, i was shocked, that a host family feel that they are entitled to see a potencial ap’s facebook. while i understand not all aps are honest in their application /be it deliberate or not/ and the family would like to get the feel of what kind of person teh ap really is, i dont think this is , or should be, the way to go.
first we all use facebook in different ways and for different reasons. some people know how to use all the different, everchanging, settings, and choose not to bother with those, some may even not be familiar with them. most people use it for communicating and sharing pictures with friends, which by default makes it something a stranger or potential employers should see. i think the above example of a girly beauty session is a perfect example.
i would never let an /potential/ employer let be friend on facebook. that includes my nanny employers now and ap employers when i used to be an aupair /not that facebook even existed then/. its two different lives and my employer/hf does not need to know every single detail of my life, unless i decide to share them. it is not hiding anything, its just basic concept of privacy.there are other ways of sharing pictures with the host family, it doesnt have to be facebook.
someone mentioned it would raise a flag with them if an ap had just party pictures on facebook. why?? it might be waht she uses facebook for. the fact she doesnt have any family pictures or anything more sophisticated, doesnt necessarily mean partying is the only thing she does in her life!
you may put off some great, probably more mature, candidates by demanding to see their profile. i certainly would say no and if they persisted i just wouldnt match with them.

Taking a Computer Lunch October 25, 2011 at 2:00 pm

HFs are, despite what the AP literature might tell you, employers. Some of us may treat the AP with whom we live as family, but the bottom line is that we pay good money for the privilege of in-home child care. And while FB and other forms of social media are great fun and a means to express yourself, what you choose to display may have an impact on employment opportunities.

Personally, I don’t friend current or potential APs. Don’t want to know (and thankfully I have a special needs child that does a pretty effective job in separating the good time girls from the young women who are willing to balance work with pleasure). The jury is still out on what I will require my son to do. Yes, you can block/unblock, but once you put it out in the ether, it’s there for a very long time. What pleases you at 18, 21, 25, may make you cringe at 30, 35, or 40.

The bottom line – do as you please, it’s your life and your FB page, but don’t expect potential employers to be thrilled.

Anna October 25, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Facebook is not “private”, it is on the Internet! Private is your written diary with a lock on it, if anyone still keeps those.
Employers do check facebook and other social networks, and do an internet search on the potential employee as a rule. Nothing “violating privacy” there.
I don’t ask to “friend” on Facebook with my au pairs, but I do search for their profile and see what they made public. Nothing wrong with this.

Melissa October 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm

4 Ever Mom’s post is regarding a situation in which the AP requested to friend the HM, so the question of whether a host family SHOULD have access or not doesn’t really apply here. Rather, it sounds like she is looking for advice or some words of encouragement on how to last the next 7 weeks with her AP, with whom she is clearly very frustrated.

Regarding the Facebook topic in general, here’s how I view it… I do not think I, as a host parent, am ‘entitled’ to view an AP applicant’s FB page. However, I see it as a very valuable tool to help me determine who she really is, and I would be very skeptical if an applicant did not want to make it available, and I would ultimately not consider a match with her. It is her choice of course not to make it available to me, and it is my choice to decline her as our AP. Not because I am her future employer, but because she will be living in my household and her personal life will likely have an impact on my life, and she will be a role model for my children.

Yes, if someone has party pictures on FB, it does not necessarily mean that she loves to party. However, there is a greater likelihood of it. And what someone posts on there is a big indicator of their judgement. If someone has an abundance of pictures of themselves drinking, in embarassing or questionable circumstances, or has lots of foul-mouthed comments, they have bad, or at least immature, judgement, simple as that.

I agree that privacy is important to everyone. However, don’t delude yourself into thinking that Facebook (or anything that is put on the internet) is private! Yes, there are some privacy controls that users have access to, but as you said yourself, they are constantly changing and ultimately, the user does not have control over the site. The Facebook user agreement – that long and tedious document you are supposed to read and agree to when you sign up – clearly states that.

kat October 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm

i am starting to get a feeling that facebook is looked upon in a very different in the us than it is in my country, cant speak for the rest of europe.

AnonAP October 25, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Since you are at a general topi right now, I’m just wondering how strict you are when it comes to party pictures.
Since I don’t party, I only have a couple of party pictures (like 5 or so). They show me holding a cocktail with some friends and one has me touching a friend’s breasts with both of us making an oops-face. Other than that I only have pictures of myself, my friends, family, animals, nature and stuff like that on my fb.
When I befriended my HD (knowing that he doesn’t really use FB but also knowing that he COULD see them), I thought about getting rid of them but decided to keep them, as they are not heavy drinking or partying pictures but just having fun and joking around.
So out of pure curiosity would those pictures have kept you from matching with a potential au pair?

HM Pippa October 26, 2011 at 7:25 pm

A question I might ask myself before posting a picture to facebook: Would I be embarrassed if my grandmother saw it? If grandma would find it inappropriate, so might your employer. Facebook is public and forever, and once something has been posted on the internet, it’s out of your personal control. There is no benefit to posting a picture with your hand on your friend’s breasts (that I can think of), but lots of potential down-sides.

AnonAP October 26, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Okay I honestly would not mind my grandmother seeing those pictures. I would never post a picture online that I would mind if anybody I know saw.
At this point in my life I probably wouldn’t post a pictures like that anymore but it happended two years ago and I didn’t really see a point in putting it down.

I really was just wondering if a picture like that (or a couple of others holding a drink) would raise a red flag for a potential hostfamily. Out of pure curiosity.
A normal employer would never see that album if you know how to handle your security settings.

Taking a Computer Lunch October 27, 2011 at 6:49 am

While I don’t look at potential AP’s FB pages, if I did, and I found one picture with a drink and several other pictures without, it would not raise a red flag. On the other hand, if there were one picture of with a drink and not much else, it would be a turn-off. And if it were clear to me that information was blocked, it would raise a red flag. I would think, “What is she hiding?”

If you are a candidate for becoming an AP, then think long and hard about how you present yourself. As other HP have said before, we are hiring you to take care of our children first and foremost. If you present yourself as a party-girl, those of us who have infants and small children will wonder if you’ll be too tired or possibly hung over to care for our children well. For those of us with school-aged children, we’ll be wondering if we’ll have a lot of explaining to do. If you have trouble matching, then you may need to think about your image (remember there are far more young women and men who wish to be APs then there are HF in the United States – and I assume the rest of the world).

NHM October 27, 2011 at 10:34 am

All that being said I do believe you want to present yourself honestly to find a good “match” for you. If you enjoy an occasional drink or like to go out dancing you would like to end up with a family that is ok with that. If you like to party a lot it would be better to find a family who supports that. So my thought is if you are comfortable with what your fb page represents about you then leave it the way it is and find a family/employer who is comfortable with you.

JMHostMom October 26, 2011 at 3:12 pm

4 ever mom,
After having read your post on the “passive aggressive” thread, I’m really surprised that you didn’t rematch! The things you posted in that thread would have, for me, been an automatic rematch. We were going through rematch when I read that thread, and it was really that thread that pushed me over the edge into deciding to rematch, because reading someone else’s situation (which was similar to ours), I came to the conclusion that this program is supposed to be a help to us, not cause more stress! We have AP’s because we need childcare, not because we want to complicate our lives even more.

That being said, I think Computer Lunch hit the nail on the head. Since you did stick with it (I admire your patience), you have to check the anger at the door and confront her in a calm, loving manner.

In terms of Facebook in general, my feeling is this: I absolutely disagree with the idea that it’s okay to have two lives- on and off FB. If a person is leading two lives, to me, that calls their integrity and credibility into question. I don’t post anything on FB that I don’t want the entire world (including my parents and my employer) to see. I think FB is a good gauge of personal responsibility, integrity, and dignity (there is nothing dignified about a picture of a young girl, half naked, with a drink in her hand, partying until she passes out). It definitely says a lot about a person. And if it says “I’m not really the person I say I am,” then for me, it’s no match.

4 ever mom October 27, 2011 at 8:42 pm

I am totally kicking myself in the butt for not doing it when I felt we “should” have. Ironically she told me today via facebook…..yes facebook, that she is sick and does not want to access medical care here and needs to go home (mind you I think she has a cold). Well, this time I said; yes, it is time to go home. Before I said that though, I did say that it was inappropriate to give me such an important message via facebook. I think any important communications should almost always be in person. What do others think? do you allow your AP to text, email or FB important info? Well anyway, looks like I am up the creek with out a paddle. She only had 7 weeks left. Now what am I going to do? I am not staying with my current agency and will they have an interim AP for only 7 weeks, and if so, do I really want to do that? some words of encouragement out there?

Taking a Computer Lunch October 27, 2011 at 9:25 pm

There’s not much to do if she wants to go home. Unless you sign a waiver forgiving her the last 7 weeks, she will have to pay her own airfare. Don’t be a softie and sign the waiver. If she really wants to go home and leave you in the lurch, then she should have to pay her own ticket.

Bad news should be done face to face. If she’s done, then she needs to sit with you at the table, tell you when her last day with you is, and what she intends to do until she flies home. Have a checklist of things she needs to do at that meeting. for example, if you gave her a cell phone, ask her to empty out her contact list, her outgoing message, and anything she might have saved on it, including photographs. You may ask that it be turned over to you immediately after she’s done working for you. If you have an au pair laptop, then give her a deadline to download any files she might have saved on it to a flash drive and take possession of it. Make sure the keys the car, house, etc., are turned back to you before she leaves. Make sure she gives you any subway cards, bus passes, or other things of value that you gave you to use while she is your AP.

Finding temporary care for 7 weeks is hard. Agencies will not “give” you a 7-week temp au pair. It may come to pass that there is an AP in rematch who will take a 7-week stint, but I doubt it. You could see if your next AP were willing and able to come earlier. If your children attend preschool, is there a daycare component attached to it? You may be able to enlist them short-term (that was my solution when my relationship with AP #1 finally completely disintegrated three weeks before the arrival of AP#2). Are you able to enlist a relative? A stay-at-home Mom in your neighborhood who might want a little extra cash for the holidays?

With the economy as bad as it is, you might well find a temporary employee for 7 weeks. Making a valid driving license a requirement will cut through a lot of driftwood.

Before you talk to your AP, go through your paperwork and see what your rights and responsibilities are, then call your LCC. If you think that things might be a little ugly at the face-to-face meeting with your AP, then have her present. You cannot force someone who doesn’t want to be there to stay, especially if she has the resources to walk away.

The bottom line – it’s over. No encouragement here. Good luck in separating with as much grace as you are able.

Anna October 27, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Actually, when you said you have only seven weeks left with her, I wanted to suggest to try bringing your new au pair earlier and sending this one home as soon as you can. But I thought it might not be very nice so I kept quiet, guess she pre-empted me.

Call your new agency; they might be able to expedite the arrival of the new au pair, if the new au pair agrees. If she has a visa already, that should be relatively easy, and even if you have to pay extra, will be cheaper than interim care. If she doesn’t have a visa yet, see if they can move up her visa appointment; maybe even book it for a different city in her country. I had to bring an overseas au pair ASAP once; as soon as she receives her visa, she needs about a week to get her passport back and then she can travel. I was able to get an au pair from match to arrival in my home in four weeks. You already have a match and matching paperwork done; so it may be faster for you.

German Au-Pair October 27, 2011 at 11:38 pm

But also be prepared that she might not want to come earlier. It would have totally messed up all my pre-arrival-plans if my hostparents had asked me to come earlier! I travelled with my parents two weeks before I came here and I had SO much stuff to do the last 3 weeks, that it wouldn’t have been extremely convenient for me to feel obligated to come here earlier.

4 ever mom October 28, 2011 at 4:19 pm

We have discussed that last night. I would not want her to feel obligated or feel indifferent about us because of my current crappy AP situation. I am looking forward to a new relationship with my new AP. I am trying to weigh my options here. I may put it out there that my current AP is leaving. If she offers to come earlier than she can, if not, than it won’t happen. All I know is that I have a job to keep and kids to have care. I used all my sick time for the current AP wich occurred after she used her 2 weeks vacation:(

Valery October 28, 2011 at 10:16 am

Im in shock regarding the fact you request her facebook invitation. Facebook could be real life or not, but is a private space which is shared only with people we want, and with differents outlooks. I recognize that I use facebook like a pick up tool. I like meeting people there, but also showing my friends the new places I visit or a nice day of photos, I don’t want any censure in my own place, that’s why my grandma is not in my list of friends!

Geting the point, I think you are being sneaky. I know she is going to live in your home, she’ll take care of your kids yadayadayda, and you should trust her and in her judgment on what is shown to you and not.

I am a party girl, and I have been raised with the mindset that alcohol and smoking must be under control, not to abuse, not to do it during work shift, and either the consecuences of that (Hangover, smell like tobacco and beer from your skin).

When in matching process I was being very honest about the smoking, and when I said I am a casual smoker the practically hang up the phone and there was no match in my account. So I decide to quit, It was a pain in the as* but still very proud of it.

Finally I got a family mach and after a few months I’ve noticed that even if I smoke or not that would not affected my job at all. I would never smoke in front of the kids, or in the house,or being smelly while working so I started doing it during MY free time, with my friends and they never knew. I had a great year as au pair and one of the factor that made it great is because they don’t sneak in my private life or my free time.

azmom October 28, 2011 at 12:52 pm

We refuse to have any smoking in our house. When my mom comes to visit and smokes outside, down the street, we fumigate after she leaves. If I found out my au pair was smoking behind our backs, I would be FURIOUS. as we said this multiple times when we matched. Plus my husband is very sensitive to smoke – he doesn’t produce tears so between the smell of smoke and perfumes, etc it is a hazard to him.

You see, we want a FAMILY member, not a live in employee. That’s the difference. If you want to be treated like an adult family member, then don’t be sneaky.

Anna October 28, 2011 at 1:24 pm

This is deceptive. “They never knew” – but assumed you were a nonsmoker.
If they found out you might have had a very different ending to your year.

They didn’t need to “sneak into your private life” to find out. Somebody might have told them they saw you smoking, they might have noticed the smell, or found a box of cigarettes or a lighter in their car…

Your great year was because you deceived your family. Their year with you probably wasn’t so great.

I had an au pair who lied to me about smoking. She also lied about many other things. She went home after four months here. Not because of the smoking per se, but because of the lies.

4 ever mom October 28, 2011 at 4:16 pm

by the way, she requested to be my friend and gave me reasons… I want you to see my pictures and my family. I did not request her. In fact I would never of thought about it. Remembe it is not really private.
It is the AP being sneaky and manipulative. She also sent me the important message of “wanting to leave” on facebook, which is very immature. Like many of the other things things people put on facebook. Just saying

Valery October 28, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Anna: Their year was great, and the fact I became to be an ocasional smoker could not change it. As as said above, I would never let the smoke, lighters, smell etc get involved with my host family, my house, my hostkids.
I used to spend the weekend in my boyfriend’s home, that was 45 minutes from where I lived. So even myself, my clothes (which I washed before getting home), my hair were free of smoke. Even being a deceiver I have some ruls to avoid any unnapropiate (yes, more that the fact I smoke at their back) situation, (Washing my clothes, taking a shower, avoid smoking on sunday).

In what way that could be more offensive than a dishonest action? Im not messing with anyone health (I catch host dad smoking on the garage tobacco and marihuana)

I have to add I lied with regardin my boyfriend age, he was 37 and I was 24! My host mom would freak out! That make me a cheater too? Im 24 and that means, at least in my background being a hard worker since 18, finished the university, having some time to try living abroad. Im not a child, even though I had to keep that for myeself and tell her I was dating a younger boy. My point is that SOMETIMES we lied, host parents lies, we say inoffensive things to avoid argue or whatever and I will consider my smoke habit in the same list as soon as I do it too far away from the house, I know they are not allergic, and Im taking care to stay free of that substances while working.

JJ Host Mom October 28, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Wow. I am so glad you are not my au pair.

Valery October 28, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Im glad you were not my host mom

Busy Mom October 28, 2011 at 11:40 pm

I think what au pairs fundamentally don’t understand is that U.S. employers (as in big companies) commonly look at social networking sites when evaluating potential employees. I had a discussion the other day with a C level exec at a major retailer and she said that their HR department does this routinely. There is NO presumption of privacy on these sites. (As I preach to my kids, think three times about what you post because it will be out there in cyberspace forever and some future employer may find it.) So, as an employer you better believe that I google my potential au pairs and look for them on Facebook.

In reading all the posts (some previous to this thread) about facebook, I’ve decided that it is best not to friend my current au pairs. If they asked, I think I would explain that it’s best to maintain a bit of privacy and that we can be facebook friends after they leave :-)

German Au-Pair October 29, 2011 at 2:22 am

Question on that issue: how would a big employer handle a blocked profile? Befriend? And what if even then he’s blocked from wall posts and pictures? Bad sign? Red flag?
Probably no employer can officially turn you down because you refuse to befriend him on facebook but I wonder if inoffically that could be a reason?
Not, that I’ll ever work in the US, but still I just wondered.

Busy Mom October 30, 2011 at 10:58 pm

German Au-Pair, the companies don’t friend the applicants, but do search for them. Lot’s of people are sloppy in their privacy settings. I have also heard (but more hearing from a parent who heard from another parent, so not sure how accurate this is) that during an interview, one college kid was asked to logon to her facebook profile to show the interviewer. That seems like a stretch, however.

German Au-Pair October 30, 2011 at 11:40 pm

Wow, that is smart but seems like an ivasion of privacy. I wouldn’t be uncomfortable doing that but still would find the request extremely akward.
But thanks for clearifying. I really don’t get why people make theri profile public.

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