When Grandma Interferes in the Au Pair-Host Parent Relationship

by cv harquail on October 25, 2010

The only people who should be involved in the relationship between the Au Pair and his or her Host Parents are the au pair and the host parents.

The au pair should get instruction and feedback directly from the parents, and the parents should focus on the au pair’s experiences with the family and the host children, and not depend on third parties to involve themselves in questions of childcare strategies or au pair behavior.

If truly necessary, the local counselor or agency rep might step in to resolve a conflict or share information. And, in the case of a true emergency or unsafe situation (e.g., your neighbor saw your au pair texting while driving), it seems right to me that someone else might alert you to a concern. But, otherwise, it’s between parents and au pair.

Occasionally, other adults can interfere in the au pair-host parent relationship intermittently– like when a grandparent comes to visit. A savvy host parent will prepare both the grandparent and the au pair at the start of the visFeeding timeit, to make it clear which of these adults in in charge, when they are in change, and how the two should interact when it comes to the kids and the household when we parents are working.

For us, grandma’s visit always makes things crazier– in a happy way — since Grandma wants to spoil the girls and do crazy things after school, while our au pairs have wanted to keep the routine and make sure the girls practice their piano and get to soccer. And, grandma is a big friend-maker; she usually ends up friending our au pairs on Facebook and sending them one after another forwarded lolcat emails. The relationship between Grandma, the au pair, and the kids can get confusing, but it has always been addressed in a kind way.

God bless my mother-in-law, because she has never once questioned our au pair’s authority, second guessed their decisions, or complained to me about anything they might have done. (And, although we’ve had mostly great au pairs, I’m sure she could have found something to complain about if she’d wanted too– but she never did. She’s that kind of thoughtful, Grandma.)

So my heart went out to this au pair, Natalia, when she wrote about her host parent’s Mother’s interference in their relationship. This problem includes interference with the AP-HP relationship, interference with the AP-Host Kids’ relationship, criticism of the au pair’s child-caring, and basic dislike from the Grandmother.

Recognizing that there are more sides to this story, but starting first with this Au Pair’s perspective, what do you recommend?

I am an Au Pair from Europe and I have arrived in the States two months ago. I am 26 years old and my host family and I matched pretty fast. Although we Skyped a lot and asked all the wright questions I think we made a mistake but not all sure yet and I need a second opinion.

This is the situation: when my HP and I did the first interview they said to me that they want their next AP to be independent and to be in a good standing with her English. I am all that and before i came here i had my own place and a full time job as a professional nanny for more then two years. So they wanted an adult who knows how to keep children safe and to teach them some things, someone who’s an active caretaker.

They said to me that the host mom is working from home and that the dad has an office away from home. They wanted my day with their children to be the same as it was back home with my previous family. Everything seemed perfect.

When I arrived my room was amazing, they gave me a car to be used just by me, they totally respected my privacy and the host mom understood how it is to not live on your own anymore after six years.

The unpleasant surprise was that the HD was also working from home and they did not say so and that their children are extremely attached to their mom and that it’s going to be very difficult winning over their trust. SO, I was trying really hard to think of creative ways to distract these two year olds so the HP could go to work and after a couple of weeks it seemed like children are starting to like me. I played with them outdoors a lot and I love music so we danced together, and a lot of physical activities and a lot of reading!

Everything was different for me, the food, the weather, culture, different parenting, and although my HP are really nice they didn’t really give me any guidelines in how they wanted their children to be raised, they assumed I knew everything.

So, after a month my host mom’s mother came to visit and that’s when agony started for me. It was horrible. Everything fell into peaces, my relationship with the children. I didn’t do any of the things I used to do with them, I was just hanging around the house. The children started refusing me again and the grandmother accused me of not working, she said: ‘you’re not doing anything!!’ But when I tried to play with them or even to change their diper while the GM was there she would criticize me a lot. (I have changed a lot of diapers in my life!)

The grandmother didn’t like me and she accused me of being rude to the children. And they talked behind my back all the time about how I’m not a good au pair, how I think that my host dad is a crappy father and etc…None of those thing were true and they even called my counselor behind my back and told her that they want a rematch.

All of this happened within a few days and everything was great before grandmother came to visit.

I was so confused and surprised when they told me that they think I am all wrong for them and then they started naming all these things I supposedly had done. And we had a long honest talk and my counselor was there and HP realized that they are wrong about this and they want me to stay and they have apologized about everything and the next day the grandmother left. Here’s where I thought everything is going to be alright. But I was wrong again.

The Grandmother came back two days ago and my HP went on a business trip so I’m alone in the house with her and the kids. Yesterday she yelled at me, and when the kids woke up from their nap she didn’t hear them so she accused me of waking them up on purpose. ( I think she might have been embarrassed about not hearing the kids wake up). When I told her they were crying she told me i was lying and she was awful to me for the rest of the day. I

t made me feel vary bad and unsure about my relationship with my HP and the kids and now i don’t know what to do. I like this place here, my friends and the kids and the HP, but I don’t think I can work like this and the grandmother is obviously going to visit often. I am miserable while she’s here and I talked to my HP about that and they said they’ll talk to her but nothing has changed. When they’re not home she treats me really bad.

Now, I know that this is a delicate situation because she’s my HM mother and I don’t want to stand between them, I know how it would feel if someone stood between me and my mother. I need some advice!

Should I go into rematch? I am a good caretaker and I can be of great use to someone who needs help raising their child and I am so unhappy now because the GM is treating me like crap and I can’t take it any more. But I love this place and I want to stay in the area because I started school here and made a lot of friends. Should I say something to my HP? Please help!

See also:
When your personal, private challenges affect your Au Pair relationship
Share the Cream: Give your AP meaningful work to do

Image: Grandma & Chloe AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by CeeKay’s Pix

{ 22 comments }

Calif Mom October 25, 2010 at 2:38 pm

I applaud your willingness to try to work things out. This is a very hard situation for you –both parents working from home (unexpectedly) is hard to start with, but then being forced to deal with an unsupportive (jealous?) and rude grandmother for a length of time is just not okay. Is it possible the parents’ jobs have changed? Or maybe one of them has lost a job? They may be dealing with extra stress right now, and that may be why Grandma is visiting.

You have a couple options:

Call your host parents while they are on their trip and ask them to talk to Grandma about the need for her to be respectful of you.

Give your counselor a call and explain that Grandma is back. Your counselor might have a better idea of what this family is like, and whether they will support you or just continue to be afraid of Grandma.

If the counselor does not have a lot of hope, ask to rematch and start looking for another family. It’s a long year to be treated this way, and you do not deserve this kind of rudeness and humiliation, even if someone disagrees with how you do the job.

For some grandparents, no one is ever going to be good enough for their grandchildren. Do NOT take the criticism personally!

If you feel uncomfortable calling the host parents while they are away, i think that is a strong signal itself. It tells me that you do not have the kind of relationship that can handle this kind of additional stress.

Good luck!

franzi October 25, 2010 at 3:04 pm

tricky situation. whatever your host parents told grandma did not work. she did not change her opinion of you and your work. ultimately, this will impair you for the rest of your stay with the family. even if grandma is gone you’ll be dreading her next return.

when your host parents are back sit them down and explain how much grandma interferes with your bonding with the kids and that you feel you can not give the 100% you should and want to.

if the situation gets really bad while the parents are still away get your counselor involved and explain the situation to her. hopefully the counselor will be able to provide more inside and give you advice as to wether you should rematch or not.

imho i believe you are better off with a rematch. you come across as someone who is more comfortable working without supervision (parents working from home). you can engage kids into play but it seems like you do not have the support from the parents that you need (especially when starting out and when the kids had to be weaned from her parents).
yes, there are always two sides to a story and i believe that mistakes have been made by you as well. but you are not some 18yr old who is trying to find where she fits in life. you have done this before and come across as mature enough to see the situation from many angles before you judge.

Anna October 25, 2010 at 4:36 pm

It sounds like when grandmother is visiting, you somehow end up sharing the childcare duties, or you are assuming she wants to care for the kids and end up not doing your usual active things with them. I think this is your mistake, you should treat those days as any other day, take the children outside, etc., and work your usual hours. Why were you staying home all day when grandma was here?

Do not expect grandmother’s help, do not expect her to be a caretaker.
Like they say in one country, “a child with seven nannies ends up without an eye”. It is really easy to neglect something when you are counting on another adult, without them knowing.

I might be wrong in my assumptions, but first you should clarify with your hostparents what is the grandma’s role in childcare duties when she is here. And try to set is so that you are doing childcare as usual. Don’t deviate from your routine. If grandma asks to come along for an outing, by all means take her, but make it clear that you are in charge of the kids. Don’t count on her.

It could be a cultural difference. The grandma here is a guest, not another mother to the kids.
Of course if both hostparents are out of the house, once you are done with your shift (I assume you have a clear work schedule), formally hand over childcare duties to grandma. Tell her that you are off, and even though you might be around the house for a while now the kids are her responsibility; offer to set up a baby monitor for her if she needs to hear them from another part of the house.

I really feel for your situation, even if you thought otherwise from the beginning of my post. I am really hoping you can work it out. But in order to do that, the roles and responsibilities and expectations should be clarified when grandma is visiting.
Frequent and clear communication with hosparents is a must. It sounds that they like you and want you to stay, and want to work it out.
Stay strong, I know it is hard in a new country, but they wanted an independent woman, maybe part of the reason is because they needed somebody to be able to stand up to the grandma on her own. You don’t have to be rude, just stand your ground. If you are able to demand respect, she will sense it and back down. We are only abused as far as we let other people do it to us. Don’t let her. Be pleasant, but firm and authoritative.

JBLV October 25, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Sorry, I have to confess that my first thought was “wow, if this young woman would like to extend for a year and my current AP does not, I would definitely be interested in talking with her. She has lots of experience.” But I digress…

This is something you need to speak with your hostparents about as soon as they return. Be direct and honest with them, and go from there. If you decide to go into rematch, do a little research on your own and talk to your LCC about your options before making rematch “official.” Try greataupair.com. And if you do go into rematch, give your host family plenty of time to find alternative childcare.

JBLV October 25, 2010 at 6:38 pm

P.S. I have to admit one more thing: my mother can be a “trouble grandma.” By that I means my mother really wants to be able to take care of my son full-time, and be “the most important person in his life.” But she and I both know this is totally untenable. So she has warmed up considerably to the idea of an AP, especially our current one who is wonderful with my son.

Your host parents may be able to intervene with the grandmother and make a good case for her to be kinder to you.

Former Au Pair October 25, 2010 at 6:51 pm

My heart goes to Natalia, because I (kinda) know the feeling, even if the situation was kinda the opposite.
With my second host family, I had a lot of contact with the “host grandma”, she was around a lot, since she and her mom moved to Kansas City to Maryland just to be close to the baby. She just poped up a couple of times during the week + fridays afternoon (I had them off to not go over 45 hours). In the begining (and I mean the first week) was great to have someone to help with the baby habits and routine, but then I started to get a lot annoyed, because it was like nobody trusted me and I was being spyed by her.
Once the baby was kinda sick (just throwing up, not even a cold) and Host Mom sent grandma to be sure I was telling the truth and it was not a bad sickness. REALLY?
Or when I was the only one able (aka patient enough) to give her the formula bottle, that she hated, and grandma kept looking at me and asking things about how to do it, because nobody could do it.
Or because every Friday grandma arrived around 12:30, when the baby was starting to fall asleep and then she would hear the door (the alarm used to make a noise), wake up and don’t sleep again in hours and I felt acused of forcing the baby to sleep to have my lunch.

So, yeah, as much as grandma was a sweet lady, having someone else in the situation is awful and can REALLY break a host family – Au Pair relationship.

Taking a Computer Lunch October 25, 2010 at 9:36 pm

I think there is another thread on this list about the HF duty to make childcare duties clear to both AP and grandparents. In my case, my kids are older, but The Camel weighs 25.2 kilos, so she’s too heavy for her grandparents (now approaching 70) to pick up. They love her to bits, but someone else must put her on their laps. Both will feed her, give her a bolus (special feeding of liquids by g-tube directly into her stomach), but they can’t pick her up to put her on the changing table when she needs a clean diaper or get her into the bath. And so, they play second fiddle as caregivers to the AP. So different with a little baby or toddler!

Grandma has already broken your trust in her attempts to divide you and HF (and what were her goals? being primary caregiver herself? or forcing her daughter into being a stay-at-home mom?). Anyway, it’s clear that she will continue to undermine you. You cannot say either her or me – because she will win every time – she’s their mother.

Here are some strategies:
— Ask her what time she would like to be in charge of the girls;and when she is — do laundry, clean the baby’s room, prepare meals, but don’t take it as a leisure time because she obviously considers you a servant. When she’s not in charge of the girls, continue with activities that you would normally do, and either draw her in, or take the children outside the home. Telling an American grandparent that you are going outside to “wear the children out” (tire them), will be music to her ears (American grandparents are obsessed with the idea of wearing children out and don’t understand that it can’t be done – that they recharge every time they nap).
— When your HP return, tell them you need a clear definition of duties when she is around, and you prefer that they spell those duties out to grandma, too. If they permit you some down time when the children nap, then have them make it clear to her that you are permitted to Skype, telephone, or read email when the children nap, and that you are not a servant (Grandma still won’t accept this but they could try). Still, if she’s around, it’s better to look busy than not. It will make your life easier.

If you and Grandma can’t come to terms, and you are chafing at working for stay-at-home parents, then you need a different HF. End of story.

My advice – don’t use your years of professional child care as a weapon. It won’t work. Especially with Grandma who already raised her first family and is working on her second (and no mother wants to hear how her AP has more experience than she – trust me).

The bottom line – Grandma will train you for every bad boss in your future. Really.

JBLV October 25, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Excellent advice.

Gianna October 26, 2010 at 2:54 pm

I have a girlfriend who took her parents to dinner and told them very sweetly that she trusted them more than anyone else in the world. She was not going to quit her job no matter what so if her parents did not stop interfering, she would exspect them to come over everyday at 6 A.M. and take care of the kids until 8 P.M. She gave them her handbook and explained that if they could not follow her rules, her in-laws would relocate and move in with her. My friend’s parents backed off immediately – they knew they weren’t up to it physically and they really enjoyed their personal freedom. They didn’t want to lose out to the in laws, so they started acting very respectful to the aupair. Everything is very nice over there, now.

NY Hostmom October 26, 2010 at 5:34 pm

You sound like a great aupair! Do not fear rematch- there is a family somewhere that would love your skills! I would advise you to schedule a meeting with the parents and let them know that you signed up to be an aupair for their family, not for an extended family including a grandma. The grandparent-grandchild relationship is very complex, and in general grandmothers feel that no one (including the parents) is competent to care for their precious grandchildren. If Grandma makes you feel that way, she probably also makes the parents feel that way sometimes too, and they will probably understand. If not, you may have to rematch.

Melissa October 26, 2010 at 7:21 pm

I really sympathize with your issue, since my mother can be extremely overbearing and difficult to deal with when it comes to childrearing. I’ve struggled with managing the relationship dynamic with her and I’m the mom! So I could imagine it must be all the more difficult as an ‘outsider’ and you seem very mature and sensitive to the fact that you do not want to come between the grandmother and HM.

Like others have suggested, I would have a very honest talk with your HPs and share with them how you feel (try to keep the focus on the impact that grandma has on you and your feelings, ability to do your job, etc, vs. a negative tone toward grandma, since that could put your HM on the defense). Even if the HPs agree with you however, and say they will speak to grandma, you still may be in for a very frustrating year. There is a good chance that grandma sees absolutely nothing wrong with the way she is acting. I know from my own experience, it is very difficult to ask a grandparent to change their behavior, without risking significant damage to the HP/Grandparent relationship. We do ‘allow’ others to treat us a certain way, but that’s only true to an extent. Sometimes refusing to put up with something (like an interfering grandmother) comes with a big tradeoff or sacrifice. In my own case, my mother absolutely refuses to abide by some of my childrearing beliefs (e.g., kids can’t have soda — a minor example, but gives you the idea). I’ve tried everything from talking about our ‘rules’, begging, demanding, to cutting off contact for months at a time. Nothing works. She absolutely won’t change. So, just be prepared that unless HM really wants to draw the line (and even if she does), you may be dealing with grandma for awhile.

natalia October 26, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Hi everybody!

I am the au pair with grandma issues and I just wanted to thank everybody on all of their great advices.I talked to my HM and she said to me that her mom is just like that and that she was like that with the previous AP and that I shouldn’t take it personally. Today I ignored her and just did my job, I took the kids outside and we had a great day until GM started making comments on how my boyfriend back home is probably cheating on me and how my school that my HP paid for is a waste of money and how if had made more dinner the kids wouldn’t have eaten apple sauce after. I don’t think that she can talk to me like that, especially when all I am is nice to her and respectful. When I asked how long is GM going to stay with us so that I know when my work will get back to normal, my HM said that she doesn’t know and that was it. Now, it is obvious to me that the GM is like that but she’s here so often for so long and I’m just wondering is it worth it, just to take it and ignore her? Is this normal? Do all families have this problem and I am just over reacting? What makes it so difficult for me is that I am an Au Pair Extraordinaire and if I go into rematch there’s a chance that I won’t be one any more because we have only two weeks to find a new family. And not all families want an Extraordinaire. This family waited for me for two months to get here, and we Skyped for three months before I got here and I have prepared myself for them, I came here because of this family, I liked them and I promised them I will stay for a year and do a great job. In that time they never mentioned that GM issue, not even that she visits often! I did not expect this. I am the only one ‘working for this to work’.

Taking a Computer Lunch October 27, 2010 at 7:06 am

The next time she makes a personal comment, like the one suggesting that your boyfriend is cheating on you (not the dinner comment), look her in the eye and ask, “Why would you say such a mean thing to me?” Hold your ground without being rude and disrespectful and my guess is that she will stop. If she doesn’t, then look for another HF. Nothing is worth having your self-confidence shaken by negative comments at every step. If you have an exit form to fill out, then make it clear you left because grandma was negative. If you decide on rematch, then ask your LCC to go out of her way to help you find another family because of the emotional stress grandma has put you through.

PA AP mom October 27, 2010 at 8:42 am

I know her comments about your work are very frustrating, but her comments about your personal life are just plain RUDE! That is NONE of her business and has nothing to do with the care of her grandchildren.

My mother can be very overbearing. I tell the APs to let me know if problems arise and I deal with them right away. She tells ME how to raise the kids so she feels entitled to tell the APs as well.

Most of the time the APs just “humor” her and she ends up being a great ally to them. She covers for them so they can book their weekend trips with an early Friday flight and when they are on vacation, she looks after the boys. She also buys GREAT AP xmas gifts!

I would document all the things that grandma is doing. That way if it becomes a rematch situation, you can show the LCC exactly what has been going on. If she’s doing it to you, she will do it to the next AP the family gets as well.

calif mom October 27, 2010 at 10:40 am

Great advice, PA AP mom. Start jotting it all down with the date/time and comment.

Personally, I would be getting ready to find a new family. Clearly, the HP aren’t prepared or able to do anything about changing Grandma’s behavior, or they wouldn’t have accepted “that’s the way she is” for so many years. She has trained them to tolerate this. They have trained her that it’s okay to walk all over people and be rude. My hub’s grandmother was like that and no one wanted anything to do with her at the end of her years. The situation is sad, but IT IS NOT YOUR PROBLEM.

I have seen personally that Extraordinaire girls can have a harder time finding a family. Would you be willing to “settle” for the regular stipend in exchange for having a more caring family and a better au pair year? You might find other benefits that outweigh the difference in stipend. This can be a good time of year to find a rematch family. At least talk to your counselor and ask her if there are many families looking right now in your area.

franzi October 27, 2010 at 3:03 pm

oh, the boyfriend comment is a true foul and very much uncalled for. like suggested, when you are being confronted with rude comments that deal with your personal life, stand up to GM and say that this was rude of her to say and very much uncalled for. yes, this is difficult but when you have a sentence like that prepared it comes out easier than if you have no reply and are just stunned by what she said.

do not be afraid of a rematch, even if you are an AP extraordinaire. what it comes down to is: do you rather stay with this family to keep your AP extr status or do you rather work for a family where you can do the work you want to do? you have your year ahead of you and that will be an advantage when you search for a family. by the way, yes you have 2 weeks to rematch but if neither your current hostfamily nor you have made a new match you can stay with your current family longer (and work) if both of you agree on it. also you have a better chance of rematch if you are truly open to match country wide and not just in your current region.

CAmom22 November 3, 2010 at 2:40 pm

I’ve been a lurker for a year or so, but this topic is making me come out of hiding (my MIL has issues with my AP although the rudeness angle here makes this issue 10x worse). In any case, I feel for you Natalia. It sounds like HP knew they had a problem GM from the last time around and simply crossed their fingers and hoped this time would be better instead of addressing it upfront to give you the opportunity to (a) brainstorm together with them how you could best deal with these issues when they came up (because it seems clear they should have known in advance it would come up; and (b) be fair to all involved and decide beforehand whether this HF/AP matching was a good fit.
Hopefully we host parents (and APs) can learn from this and know that hiding the skeletons is never going to work out well — airing our dirty laundry up front should give us our best chance at a successful initial match!
All that said, I think there is still hope to save the relationship. But, it means as several have said that communication needs to improve. As to the “business relationship” there needs to be a very clear workplan — e.g., a written schedule that everyone (including GM) has seen — showing exactly who is in charge of what and and when. If HP continue to brush you off with “we don’t know how long this will continue” and just cross their fingers and hope all is well then the relationship has no chance and you need to consider rematch. You should not be the only one working for this to work. They need to meet you halfway (at a minimum) on this. Otherwise if things continue the way they are going now it’s going to be a miserable year.
As to the rudeness on personal issues and other miscellaneous comments, it is for you to decide if that is a deal killer or not. If GM is just rude, she’s just rude and you need to tell her that it is not acceptable for her to talk to you that way but she may or may not change her behaviour towards you.
I’m sorry for the situation you are in; I wish you the best. I would also enlist the LLC to ensure she is aware that this is still ongoing.

Anne Marie Segal October 27, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Hi CV – what a great topic to address! Thanks for this post!

Gianna October 27, 2010 at 8:15 pm

What I like about PA AP Mom’s comment is that although she knows her mother can be overbearing there are wonderful things about her mom, too. I really advocate talking to the host parents and asking them how they advise dealing with the grandmother. I think that the host parents really need to talk to Grandma. I would try to find something nice to say and then talk honestly . After all, she is their mother and they can’t send her into rematch ! I have to disagree with TACL when she suggested looking Grandma in the eye and saying ” Why would you say such a mean thing ? ” . I have a large family of overbearing people and I have found it best not to say anything that encourages discussion about matters that are none of their business. If I asked my sister in law, for instance, ” why would you say such a mean thing ?” she would say, ” why for your own good ,dear, I am just trying to help – someone has to tell the truth “. I have had success saying to these people ( whom I love most of the time ) ” I appreciate your interest but I prefer not to discuss something so personal. ” Or the ever popular ” thank you for your concern ” . Just a suggestion… Good luck !

Susan October 30, 2010 at 11:13 pm

We used to have similar problems when my mother came to visit us (although I do not think she was as rude as the grandma visiting your family….) My mom comes frequently and stays anywhere from 2 days to a week to spend time with the children and help out. Initially, when we were inexperienced host parents we used to give our au pair the impression that grandma would do everything and she can simply back off and relax. This was initially what grandma told us that she wants. This couldn’t have been farther from the truth. We heard all sorts of complaints from grandma, “this young lady doesn’t do anything, she is lazy, I have been doing dishes, laundry, changing diapers all day, where is she anyway? She doesn’t care, etc, etc” We also observed that grandma was simply exhausted but too proud to say it. She had been such an energetic mother in her day and now she simply couldn’t do all the things she wanted to do with regard to the children and the household. Both my husband and I work long hours outside of the home so we provide little help in this situation.

Thus, for our subsequent au pairs we explained grandmas visits differently. We started giving clear instructions to the au pair but also to the grandma about their duties and the way the day would go. We asked the au pair to maintain her daily schedule including outings and laundry without any changes (except if grandma requests a change). For example, my mother likes to take naps in the afternoon especially after waking up early to be with the children. It is our au pairs duty to make sure that she is able to have a couple of quiet hours in the afternoon to effectively recharge her batteries. We now find that my mother and the au pair work like a team together and they seem to us very content- each one of them knows what they need to do.

It is also important to recognize that grandmas may want some special time with the children without the au pair. My mom tends to take out my older son for special outings (ice cream, museums, library) so that she can spend this kind of time with him. Once she started doing this I think things also improved significantly.

In addition to clear responsibilities for the au pair and the grandma, I think that you need to hold your head up high and not give her the impression that she can talk to you in a disrespectful way. If an au pair runs away from grandma (or hides in her room) I think this is bad because grandma will think the au pair is not working hard. Additionally this will also give the grandma the impression that the au pair is weak because she is running away from a strong grandmother. This will make the grandma feel like she can talk down to the au pair. I know she should not do this but this is simply human nature. In order to get along with someone you actually need to spend time with them and talk to them and not run away from them. If you get to know the grandma (truly get to know her) and hold your head up high like you respect yourself and walk around the whole house without fear, I am certain that she will speak to you with a different tone. Just try it :)

Gianna November 2, 2010 at 3:19 pm

What a beautiful post ! Clear headed but sensitive. I am thinking that many women
” of a certain age ” ( at least from my demographic ) do not have experience with
” help ” or an aupair. So , some of our mothers just do not know how to behave with an aupair.

Alexandra Summers November 2, 2010 at 11:06 am

Natalia, this is a tough situation!! I really feel for you, as many of the others on this blog… any updates?? Some questions for you – 1. do you like, and trust, your HF? 2. do you like the children? 3. are you comfortable in the home when the GM isn’t there? 4. Is your HF willing to work with you, and set boundaries around when the GM is visiting?
If the answer to any of the above is “no”, then you probably need to rematch. Don’t stay just because you are affraid of not matching. If you are miserable, it will come through with the children… and at the end of the day, that is really the most important thing.

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