When It Makes Sense to Cancel Your Au Pair Match

by cv harquail on November 16, 2015

Sometimes with big decisions we feel some “buyer’s remorse”.  

Maybe you should’ve gotten a station wagon instead of a mini-van? Or the size 12 instead of the size 10…?nancynance

Often, the buyer’s remorse just goes away. Other times, you take the jeans back to Target and exchange them for a larger size. Whatever. That’s life.

When it comes to selecting Au Pairs (or Host Families), a little bit of discomfort over the decision is normal.

Hey, it’s a really big decision! You consider whatever criteria you have, you evaluate whatever data you can, and then you decide.

If it helps, remember that there’s No Such Thing as a “prefect match”.

We make good matches, and then we work like hell to create strong relationships.

It’s the work, not the choice, that creates Host Parent and Au Pair success stories.

But there is always the exception that challenges the advice — like this situation, from 2nd Guessing Host Mom.    Read it through, take the poll, and then tell us in the comments–    

When *does* it make sense to cancel your match?

  • How do you know? 
  • How many days after you say yes– if any — do you have to change your mind?


Dear AuPairMom ~    
I just “officially” matched with a young woman yesterday and I’m having serious anxiety about it.  I’m so stressed I made a mistake but I feel terribly guilty at the thought of changing my mind and how mean that would be for the applicant.
Part of the angst is that I just finished re-matching after choosing an au pair who mis-represented herself, was a terrible fit for our family and was very cold and detached.  So I am so afraid of making another mistake as it was really hard on our family and me in particular as I am the main contact/coach for our au pairs.Since the 4 days since we discussed being a good match right before the weekend, we did not contact the agency until Monday and it took another day to make it official. 
In that time, a few red flags have come up for us. 
1) she has brought up that she thinks it is gross for us to give milk to our kids.  She told us she is a vegetarian but now it seems she’s a vegan and potentially an opinionated one.
2) we need to change bedrooms and bathrooms with one of our kids living in what has been our au pair suite area because the au pair is very tall and won’t fit into the shower comfortably in the au pair bathroom. At first my daughter said yes no problem to the switch but now she is not very happy about it.  
3) something about her demeanor after getting our handbook changed – nothing major, just little comments of disapproval while we were discussing it and also a less than kind comment about her little sister.
The applicant has really terrific references from her current host family & past jobs. My previous Au Pair, who herself was a great family member, (before our re-match) thought she seemed wonderful.  She is very warm and loving which are our two biggest “must haves” . 
Both my husband and I don’t want to be hurtful to the woman that we’ve said we’d match with but we are wondering:
Will what seem like minor issues now become too painful and lead to rematch– a rematch we could have avoided?
We weren’t sure the match would happen so we’d been talking with another woman too. 
We just started talking with her early last week so we’d already had numerous Skypes with the woman we matched with.  We’ve only Skyped with the second woman 2 times but have had many emails back and forth and her questions are really good and well thought out.  So far no red flags at all.  
Her host parents also gave her a terrific review – she’s an extension too. We are thinking she’s a better fit for us but feel like we’ve made a commitment. Any advice?  I’m trying to follow my gut after the re-match problem (when I didn’t…) Do we stick with the matched woman even if we are questioning it?

Should this Host Mom Cancel Her Match?

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Image: Light or Dark, You Choose, by nancynance on Flicker


NoVA Twin Mom November 16, 2015 at 9:41 am

Are both candidates you’re considering extension candidates? You said the second candidate is “also” an extension candidate, and you have host family references.

If she’s an extension candidate, I’d try to get a hold of the current host family (AND LCC) again and discuss the milk thing. That’s disturbing to me, because while I don’t necessarily mind (in theory) that my au pair is “vegetarian” – recognizing that this often means “whiteaterian” in the au pair world – she would HAVE to be OK with feeding my girls meat. And smelling it cooking when my husband and I eat it, and generally seeing it served at the dinner table while she eats. This kind of questioning has caused every candidate that listed they were a vegetarian to run from us.

So I vote other – go back and talk to the references again, questioning them specifically about what you’ve heard in the past few days. I think this will clarify for you which way to go – either they’ll admit/allude that it will be an issue, or will reassure you.

AlwaysHopeful HM November 16, 2015 at 9:59 am

I agree that you should speak with the HF and LCC (important to speak with both), but I would add questions about flexibility, judgment, attitude, and anything else that may be concerning you. Ask pointed questions. This is an important decision, and you should feel comfortable. More importantly, address these concerns with the au pair! Whatever her attributes or flaws, failure to communicate concerns can only lead to misunderstanding and possible resentment in the long run. Whomever you choose, it is critical that you speak openly with her.

I see the other applicant as a non-issue. She may only be attractive because of your anxiety about your match. It sounds like you don’t yet have enough info about her to know whether she’d be a a great fit.

In the end, you have to follow your gut. But that is not the same thing as giving in to fear. In fact, it’s harder to do when you are fearful. Listen to the concerns that are swelling up in you, address them with her, the family and the LCC, then decide– quickly, for her sake– whether you have truly made a mistake or whether it’s just a matter of NOT trusting your gut when it said she was a good match.

NoVA Twin Mom November 16, 2015 at 10:31 am

Yes, reading over what i wrote I hit Submit too soon. While the milk thing would be my first question, ask about all your concerns. Then move on based on what you’ve learned. And the LCC perspective – if they’re honest – will be crucial so you can find out where the host family is coming from. Are they laid back, so any complaints they do have would have to be based in something major, or are they chronic complainers, someone that finds something to complain about no matter if they had Mary Poppins?

Returning HM November 16, 2015 at 1:22 pm

I clicked “other” because I think the HM should schedule a skype call with the AP for today and have a very candid conversation with her about these very important red flags that are nagging at her. She needs to go through each situation – what she said and what the AP said and how she took the AP’s words – and see how the AP reacts. If the AP has a good explanation about what she meant, which is different from what the HM thought she meant, or if she shows understanding about how her words came across and apologizes and explains what she was trying to say (we don’t know whether this is an ESL issue or poorly worded comments issue), then I would do what NoVA Twin Mom suggested and talk to the LCC and previous HF and this time ask more specific qustions about the AP and how she handled things she didn’t initially like or want to do.

If the AP isn’t able to hear and understand why you’re concerned about the things she has said since the match, then it’s time to call things off. If you just clicked match yesterday, then no one has really lost any time with the match, and you’ll be doing yourself, your family, and ultimately the AP in question a good turn by moving on NOW, rather than having to do so after she has moved in and you’ve welcomed her and then find yourselves at odds over everything.

So I would say, make the call to the AP today. If she is willing to really hear your concerns and explain herself, then maybe you’ve got someone who is open to learning to think first about what she says and how her words will come across. If she isn’t, then move on. Life is too short for someone who is preachy (and I say that as a vegetarian who has zero patience for people who tell others what to eat and not to eat; my choice is MY CHOICE alone, and I do not consider it my right to tell others how and what they should consume). Preachy and judgmental are twin sins I cannot get over in anyone, let alone someone who is supposed to make my life easier, so I’d say move on for everyone’s sake, if the call you make to her doesn’t go amazingly well and you dont feel totally satisfied and relieved after talking to her.

Mimi November 17, 2015 at 5:12 pm

I’m an “other” for pretty much all of the above, also. IMO, clearing up this issue now will definitely tell you if there will be issues going forward that will cause you grief.

I’d add that an easy solution to the bathroom issue is to swap out the shower head with one that can be hand held. (Unless I’m missing how someone who is tall might otherwise need accommodation in the shower?) We did this for an AP that was also quite tall and she was very grateful, even though she had grown up with a shower identical to ours.

Should be working November 16, 2015 at 10:48 am

I voted to cancel the match. She criticizes a basic and normal parenting decision in a childish way (“gross” about the milk). She is critical of the handbook (did the OP send it before or after the match? I hope before, but it still isn’t ok to criticize HF handbook unless there is a constructive alternative: “I noticed you want laundry done on Tuesdays. If there are enough clothes for the kids, can it wait until Thursday or is this something you feel strongly about?”).

Let me also return to my usual rant about personality profiles. Does the HF’s agency have them? If yes, take a good look. Sounds like this candidiate is a high-D, low-C type (dominant and “innovative” [anti-rules]). Which can make for a great leader, a strong and happy personality, a passionate family member. But it can also mean someone who is stubborn, willful and unbending. How does that compare to the profile of your more successful APs? How comfortable is the OP with managing someone who is rebellious? Some HPs might be ok with it, but to me this one sounds like she hasn’t tempered her dominance with much sympathy or patience.

LuckyHM#3 November 16, 2015 at 11:23 am

I also voted to cancel the match. The earning signs are there already. I think her “gross” connect about giving the kids milk shows how she could be about other things that she didn’t agree with. We are not talking giving the kid a good of rum here. Also sounds like the AP got the handbook after the match? I wonder why that happened?
For our rematch, the warning signs were there but I ignored it or perhaps didn’t know enough to notice. For instance, in our handbook, we ask that AP use a swiffer to mop the floor of the eat-in kitchen after dinner with the kids each night (this AP ate early dinner with the kids and my kid especially the toddler had half their food on the floor). Her comment to me was a sarcastic follow up that or house must have lots of bugs and mice if we have to mop ‘this very small area ” daily perhaps the rest of our house was dirty to invite all the pests we supposedly had. Totally pissed me off but I convinced myself that I was overreacting and went back and calmly explained to her. This same AP assist didn’t see why I wanted her to do the once a week laundry on a certain day of the week ( clearly I’m stupid). She was also vegetarian ( white for anyway) who told me she was okay with feeding my meat and arrived and started “preaching ” to me about how people who are meat were too stupid to really understand the plight of animals and what we are doing to the environment and to put children by not teaching them that eating meat was BAD.. Nipped that in the bud early enough buy in her 3 or so months with us, she cooked meat for me kid ONCE after multiple nagging.

All in all, what am saying is trust you GUT. The other girl is a non issue at this point. You don’t have to match with her either till you’re 100% sure

Kiesa November 16, 2015 at 1:49 pm

I would probably rematch. At a minimum I would have a very detailed conversation about food expectations (both for your kids and what she would have available to eat).

I’m a first-time host mom and our family is ovo-lacto vegetarian. We had selected an au pair that ate meat but had discussed in detail what our family ate. Due to some unexpected medical problems right before she arrived we had to scramble to find another au pair. We ended up with a transitional au pair who is gluten-free and vegan. My impression is that one of several reasons for the rematch was her inability to eat sufficiently with her prior host family (she originally thought her host mom was vegetarian but that turned out not to be accurate). Before our au pair came we did explicitly ask her if she would be ok serving our older son cheese sandwiches and our infant milk-based formula and she was/is. Her dietary needs work ok with our lifestyle but I can see how it could be a pretty big problem in other circumstances. It was not until after our au pair arrived that I realized how big an issue food is. I believe we ended up extremely lucky with our rematch.

AuPair Paris November 16, 2015 at 2:34 pm

How did it come up that she thinks giving milk to your children is “gross”?! That’s a really rude and judgmental thing to say! Is it a language issue? Or does she alternatively come from a culture that is particularly blunt and outspoken? If neither, that’s a big no no in my book…

To be honest, if you’re having doubts I think the right thing to do would be to cancel the match ASAP. I’d say the same to an AP having second thoughts about matching with her HF. But if you’re not sure whether your history is making you overreact, (and assuming she’s an extension AP too) do you think you could talk to her previous host family in depth about some of the issues? The milk thing, particularly.

As for your daughter and her room – only you and your family know what your daughter’s attachment to her room is. Some people get anxious at changing environments, and taking away your daughter’s safe space could be a really big deal. On the other hand if your daughter has just noticed that the alternative room is very slightly smaller, or painted in buttermilk instead of cream – she’ll get over it. That’s a decision to make within the family…

I’d like to know more about the disapproval and the comment about her sister. Was it less-than-kind in a way that was explainable as a joke/a fake antagonism that occurs in sibling relationships? Or was it incontrovertibly cruel?

I’d say trust your gut, but the only think that’s giving me pause is the fact that, just coming out of a bad match, you might be on a hair trigger for red flags?

Boys Mama November 16, 2015 at 4:32 pm

I agree with the posters who suggest you call her TODAY and ask her point blank and without sugar coating what you are concerned about. You can learn a lot about her personality by surprising her with direct questions, and tell her exactly how her specific comments came off to you.

Personally I feel so strongly about being 100% about your choice of AP that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a hair trigger for red flags at this point. That “gross” comment alone would have sent me running for the hills… just imagine how bad that attitude could go if she’s judging the way you raise your own children DURING THE INTERVIEW PROCESS.

I’ve been recently burned by an extension AP and I learned the hard way that a good HF reference isn’t enough to hire on. Sometimes Extensions have mastered their first jobs, forgotten how difficult it was in the beginning and filled their hearts with the initial host kids. Extensions can be less teachable, in my opinion, and if the attitude is already condescending (“gross!”), you potentially have a long way to fall with this one.

NJ Mom November 16, 2015 at 5:00 pm

I would clarify on the vegetarian/vegan issue right away. If the situation is what your instinct tells you, then it’s far better to cancel the match now then to go into rematch later. Given that she’s an extension AP, she should already have enough experience with the language and culture that I wouldn’t chalk this up to a “communication” issue.

The good references tells you that she has the skills required, but only you can determine whether she is a good match for your family or not. I wouldn’t feel guilty about cancelling. With the good references, she should be able to find a family who’s values are more compatible with her own.

German Au-Pair November 17, 2015 at 6:10 pm

Don’t forget that we don’t know her words. It may have been “You shouldn’t feed your daughter milk, that’s disgusting” (=rude) but it also may have been “I find it pretty disgusting but I have no problem feeding it to her” (= her opinion) and one hundred things in between.

You’d also be surprised how bad someone’s English can be 9 (or 20…) months in.

Should be working November 16, 2015 at 5:58 pm

Also it sounds to me like this HM is putting too much stock in references. We got a terrible AP out of rematch with a good (not great) recommendation from the HF; and a good (not great) AP out of rematch who came with a terrible recommendation from the HF. And references from other jobs don’t count at all.

Another point: OP says this AP is so warm and loving, the HM is tempted to stick with the match for that reason. Well, warm and loving should be GIVENS in matching with an AP. It shouldn’t be a rarity, it’s just the FIRST criterion on the list. Sounds like the bad, cold match before this one might be producing “contrast effect” selection here: after a cold, detached AP, looking for a passionate one. But the opposite of cold is not necessarily passionate. Passionate = drama. Warmth can also come with tolerance, patience and gentleness.

Repeataupair November 17, 2015 at 12:25 am

I say you should cancel the match, her comments are immature and judgemental (and to be honest au pairs aren’t here to educate with their educational ideas but to follow the parents ideas) and also it’s your guts. Are you going to have remorse about it every fight or argument you will have ?

QuirkyMom November 17, 2015 at 1:48 pm

Another vote to cancel. Although it’s great and desirable to be fair to an AP who is already in your house, her behavior has raised enough red flags that you should trust your judgment and pull the plug now. Far better to withdraw now than to wait until she is at your house. Criticizing your parenting decisions is an absolute no-fly for me — honestly, I don’t think that asking pointed questions about these issues will do anything more than give her a chance to backtrack and cover her tracks by reassuring you that she didn’t *really* mean what she said. But she did. She’s already showed you her true personality and you should take her at her word.

German Au-Pair November 17, 2015 at 2:17 pm

I honestly don’t see huge red flags…I just see a HM who has been burned and now wants to be sure.
The milk thing…I’m not sure which culture the AP is from but I had a very similiar situation with my HP. I’m by no means a vegetarian and the issue was over some cold chicken that I had to rip apart in the mornings. I eat chicken but the stiff, cold bird was just so gross to me. And here’s the thing: in my family, my mom would put the raw chicken on her hand and chase me with it. Other times I would say “That’s disgusting, don’t let me see it until it’s cooked” etc. So I would complain about the stupid chicken all the time because it didn’t feel like complaining to me. It was exaggerate on purpose cause that’s how it’s been. I only found out waaay later that it had bothered by HP a lot because to them it felt like I wanted them to change their ways (which I didn’t).
I guess the situation is a bit different with a vegan who might actually not mean it as a joke and be grossed out (but then again, it also actually, physically made me gag). But the point it that saying it’s gross does not necessarily have to be as rude as ist comes across to you.
So I wouldn’t call of a match because of this -I would address the issue and let her know that you won’t change our lifestyle for her and while she may not mean it that way, it bothers you and need her to not plant thoughts like that in your children’s minds. (On that note: discuss with her what you want her to disclose to the children when they ask why she is vegan, depending on how old they are).

Calling off a match because of the bathroom issue would be very unreasonable IMHO. You knew about this, you made arrangements and backing out now would be unfair to the AP, who I’m sure is excited to come live with you. The issue hasn’t changed from before the match so there’s no validation for calling it of because of it.

About the changes in attitude. Unless you can pinpoint how she’s changed (and therefore be able to discuss it) I would honestly consider if you just FEEL like this is happening because you had a bad experience before.

So no, I don’t think it’s reasonable or fair to match but I also don’t think you need to “make it work”. Just be clear about your expectations regarding managing her lifestyle and yours and be open about how you feel and what you want and things should go as planned. I don’t see why they wouldn’t.

Returning HM November 17, 2015 at 4:03 pm

German Au-Pair wrote: “Calling off a match because of the bathroom issue would be very unreasonable IMHO. You knew about this, you made arrangements and backing out now would be unfair to the AP, who I’m sure is excited to come live with you. The issue hasn’t changed from before the match so there’s no validation for calling it of because of it.”

I very much disagree with this statement in all of its parts. First, let’s remember that the match happened two days ago. The AP in question isn’t in rematch so isn’t limited to two weeks to find a new family. She has been only two days without searching actively. If OP puts her back into the pool today, likely she will have missed very few actively-looking families. Extension APs have months and months to search for a new family. If AP in question is at the end of several months of looking and only OP has been interested but no other families, then this would also tell OP something about the AP in question.

Secondly, and more importantly, OP’s daughter is the one who has had a change of heart about switching rooms, and since this matters greatly in HER mind, it does indeed mean that the issue has changed. OP said yes to the very tall AP taking the daughter’s room at a time when her daughter was willing to switch. Daughter is now upset about switching, so there has absolutely been a change. If the daughter in question is 3, then of course the OP can likely sway the daughter’s views and bring her around to the change. But if she is 10 or 11, this could prove a major issue. I can’t imagine an AP coming into a house where her presence has required a child to move bedrooms, letting her see that the child is upset about it, and still say “well, this doesn’t matter if you’re upset, because you said you would do it.” That would be very problematic in my view.

Finally, we are talking about two days of being matched against a year’s worth of being together. If OP is having serious second thoughts, she should act on them. OP only owes AP an explanation (and, as I argued in an earlier posting, a chance to respond to her concerns) but that’s it. If OP has deep concerns about the match, she should cancel the match. She shouldn’t allow 48 hours of having been matched to guilt her in to going ahead with the match for a whole year.

Should be working November 17, 2015 at 4:24 pm

The daughter’s withdrawal of consent for the bedroom switch raises an interesting question in its own right, about how much say kids get in setting up the house (whether for an AP or in general).

If I let my kid decide what arrangements are ok or not, I would always open myself up to the kid backing out or changing her mind. It might be better for the OP (and me, I remind myself) to decide as the adult how the house will be arranged, and the daughter can be mad about it or whatever, but it’s not her consent that is primary or even required. Because what if the daughter ended up in some disagreement or conflict with an otherwise-good AP? The consent for the bedroom could seemingly be withdrawn at any time, which is not fair to an AP who was not party to the whole arrangement.

But this is a larger parenting question–like whether kids are going to play on demanding teams that require lots of parental involvement, or whether the family is going to get a pet, et al. If the kids decide, the parents have set up a situation where the kids could un-decide or re-decide. I struggle with this, trying to encourage democracy and participation by kids while still being the one who keeps the overview for what’s best for the family.

LuckyHM#3 November 17, 2015 at 4:37 pm

To be fair to OP, I think it’s the red flags like the milk issue that is making OP seriously consider her daughter’s withdrawal of consent for the room switch. I think if she was super happy about the match, she like most parents would possibly figure out how to resolve the daughter’s dissatisfaction. I don’t think this should be an indictment of anyone’s parenting. Again, this is just based on my reading of the OP as well as how like a lot of people I can sometimes ” make mountains from molehills ” when there is one sometimes unrelated thing seriously bugging me. I could be totally wrong.

Returning HM November 17, 2015 at 4:41 pm

I hear you and largely agree. But in this case, OP did ask for daughter’s consent and made the match based on it. Daughter has now withdrawn consent. Depending on the age of the daughter, this could be a deal breaker for the daughter and AP’s relationship. I can’t imagine forcing my 13 year old to move out of her room into a room she doesn’t like and explicitly against her wishes, and then expecting her to be fine with this and fine with the AP, on whose shoulders she would lump the blame for the move. On the other hand, if my daughter were five, I would have told her – not asked her – that she was moving and that would have been that. And I would not have told her she was moving because of the AP but because we needed her to move. The end.

The larger issue I was having was with the PP saying that this wasn’t a valid point to consider because permission had already been granted. Honestly, we get to change our minds about whom we want to live with. That is why people cancel engagements, cancel weddings, and get divorced. There’s no reason a HM who has never met an AP should be forced to go through with a match with said AP just because at one point a few days ago the match felt right. If there are concerns now, those concerns should be addressed openly and not swept under the rug with, ‘You made your bed, now go sleep in it.’

Should be working November 17, 2015 at 5:09 pm

On that note, a friend of mine rented bedrooms out to “lodgers” in his house–different than “renters” because they share the kitchen and bath. Even in our renter-friendly town, the rules for ending a lodging arrangement are MUCH more lax than the ones for ending renting agreements. Because you LIVE WITH them.

Two days after a match things are definitely cancellable without it counting as a moral or other infraction. Maybe the agency will not credit you your “matching fee”, I think CCAP’s is about $375, and you will have to pay it again when you choose another AP. Seems like a cost well worth eating.

Seattle Mom November 19, 2015 at 7:46 pm

This is so OT, but I *wish* that were the case in DC. The housing laws are heavily skewed to the tenant even when the tenant shares the bathroom & kitchen and all common areas in the home. So if you have a tenant/roommate who you hate and they don’t want to leave it is nearly impossible to get them out. I have a family member going through that right now and it’s horrible… she’s an elderly woman who rents rooms in her house way below market rate because she believes in “affordable housing.” But then she ends up with some weirdo jerk who takes advantage and just won’t leave. What a nightmare. Luckily I have a friend who is a lawyer specializing in housing issues and she is determined to get this guy out.. they served notice, and next they are going to court. Maybe he’ll be out this spring, who knows.

German Au-Pair November 17, 2015 at 6:03 pm

As I understand it, it has been official for two days (contact agency + make it official) but they had decided they were matching 4 days prior. That would make 6 days (and Op isn likely not saying “stop” right this minute so make it a week.)
So that would be a week out of the pool, which, with an extension AP might not be such a big deal HF wise. But morally, I DO think this is not okay and I dare say people here would agree if an AP backed out after a week. Maybe the issue is a lesser deal because the AP is in the US already, but being excited to have found a good match and then just being told “nah, never mind” is pretty upsetting (and would be for a HF as well).
That’s true especially if the reasons are ONE comment that didn’t feel right to the HM and a HC changing her mind. I agree that age is of matter here and I even understand a teen not wanting to change her room (depending on the living arrangements in general). I don’t quite understand giving in to a child’s changing mind (provided the child was allowed to think about her decision) but I guess that comes down to parenting.
I don’t know, on the one hand I think unmatching for basically no valid reason is pretty unfair, on the other hand I also wouldn’t want to live with a HF that has projected their fears on me before I even stepped a foot in their home. And, that is a valid point, if the room issue really is that huge, it might actually ruin the relationship from the beginning so it might actually be better for the AP as well…
But then I would really take that route and own the fact that a child has changed her mind and that’s why it cannot happen and you’re really sorry about that. I wouldn’t blame unmatching after several days on one comment that has been made and likely wasn’t meant nearly as rude as it was perceived and a bad gut feeling.

LuckyHM#3 November 17, 2015 at 7:19 pm

I guess that where we differ. For me, the milk is gross comment is not quite ONE minor comment given that it has already been communicated that I want you to give MY children milk. For an extension AP, I hazard a guess that she didn’t stop interviewing/talking to other HFs till when the match was signed 2 days ago. She would have still been available to any other HFs that was interested in her. Extension APs typically understand the system and go some extent, living with an American family.

Ultimately, OP has to make her decision but taken together the milk comment, the disapproving comments about the handbook, and the cherry on top, the daughter’s unhappiness with the room switch, I would not match with this AP. She’s an extension and they typically have lots of choices especially in CA and NYC :-)

HRHM November 18, 2015 at 12:02 pm

I will say, I have had an AP change her mind after matching (about 5 days later) and back out of a match. I couldn’t really tell why but most likely she got an offer that she thought was better (more favored location, nicer house, one kid, better schedule) or maybe she just saw/heard something that gave her pause. Whatever the reason, in the end, although it was annoying and inconvenient, I thought “better to have her flake out now, than have her do it once she’s here” So if a HF or AP is feeling a nagging doubt beforehand, it’s better for everyone if they don’t keep the match.

Mimi November 18, 2015 at 3:38 pm

We’ve had this happen once and another instance when I pushed an AP about her lukewarm acceptance of our match offer and she admitted she wasn’t 100% thrilled with the idea of NE winters and her friends were pressuring her to find a better match. HD was annoyed that I talked her out of the match, but it was definitely the right thing to do for both parties.

JHM November 18, 2015 at 7:33 pm

I think you fail to see that if the host mom agrees to the match despite her nagging feeling that this might not work, the AP might end up in rematch.
If you invite someone in your home and already have reservations about the person, the chances of ending up in rematch seem much higher. By dissolving the match, she’s giving the AP and herself a better chance of finding a more fitting match.

I was actually wondering, if the way of expressing herself could be cultural. For example, Germans are highly opinionated and their philosophy in life seems to be that the glass is half empty, which leads to nagging or seemingly dissatisfied comments. It doesn’t mean they are unhappy or dissatisfied. it’s just their nature-they are direct and speak their mind..
this is why you (German-Au Pairs) might not think these are red flags. I’m German myself, but after having lifted in the US for nearly 6 years, it bugs me. If host mom has already a bad feeling about these types of comments, she might have a hard year if faced with it regularly. And if not rude, it’s pretty immature to call someone else’s eating habits gross. As an adult you learn to put a filter on (I highly recommend that for German APs by the way :) ), and not everyone needs to know/or is interest in every tiny aspect of life you deem unpleasant, unfair, or gross.

I think the host mom should do what she seems best for her family.

WorkingMomX November 17, 2015 at 4:38 pm

I voted “other”. I’d recommend having a conversation with her, bringing up in particular the diet issue, and asking her directly whether she will be OK giving your children dairy, meat, etc. Regarding the disapproval you believe you’ve read in her demeanor since she read your household handbook – are there items in the handbook that were an issue with other au pairs? And are you sure it’s not just the transition-shy, once-burned host mom brain turned on strong? Assume positive intent, ask direct questions, if you don’t get a satisfying answer, probe further. If you’re still feeling not great about the match after this, I’d rematch. But give it a shot, at least. Try to remember what you liked about her initially.

And best of luck!

Didi November 18, 2015 at 3:23 am

I agree with previous comments, canceling your match might be the best idea. You will be reminded of this feeling every single time she does something that bugs you, and it’s not fair to her to have that disadvantage before even coming to your home.

When it comes to issues you mentioned, it could be that she was nervous and she came of as rude and immature with her comments. Regardless, if your gut is telling you she is not good for your family, don’t let her get excited and ruin her possibility to find perfect match.
Good luck to you both.

Boy Au Pair Spain November 18, 2015 at 4:38 pm

She sounds to me like the sort of person that says what she is thinking and doesn’t consider the consequences. I guess it isn’t surprising that she feels that giving the kids milk is gross if she is a vegan.Without doubt, all au pairs have thought badly about things that their host parents do but still has respect for them anyway. It is the consequence to being in a culture that is not your own. Her mistake is in saying it: especially so early on and in the way she did. I think not thinking about what you say is quite common with adolescents. It does say a lot about her personality but I don’t think it need necessarily be a negative. If she accepts what you do anyway, while giving her opinion about it, perhaps it wouldn’t be a problem.

I am ashamed to say I have changed my mind with 3 families after accepting. Each time it was after actually visiting them. The first was when I found out some information that would mean I wouldn’t get into the medical school in their city, the second was that they didn’t speak Spanish at home (only a regional language), and the third was because their was no discipline with the children whatsoever (for example, a 6 year old. deliberately pouring water all over my food and the parents barely saying a word to him about it). I don’t believe I would change my mind because of something in the families attitude towards me. I think I would try it. However it is not an analogous situation… All I can say is that I really feel for the au pair that you are considering cancelling her for someone else especially considering how many applicants there are for each au pair post in the USA.

momo4 November 18, 2015 at 7:30 pm

I have to agree with the “listen to your gut, don’t match” contingent of his discussion.

You can debate all you like about whether her “milk is gross” comment is the result language barriers, a cultural misunderstandings, etc. but at the end of the day it comes down to the fact that this is someone who is going to live in your home and care for your children for a whole year and you should be certain about your choice. Also, food issues really are a big deal and have significant impact on both the AP and HF and their relationship. Personally, whatever their positive attributes are, I would never match with an AP who was sanctimonious about their lifestyle choices.

With 4 kids and having hosted 9 APs I have no patience for opinionated 19-year-olds who think they know how to live or parent better than I do. I do not want someone living in my house who feels the need to sit and judgment of my family’s lifestyle, let alone feel free to share these judgments with me. My life is busy and I frequently feel overwhelmed just trying my best to hold it altogether. APs are welcomed into my home because I need help, not because I need someone telling me I should do things differently. Also, the last thing I need is yet another person in my house who needs special dietary accommodations.

As others have mentioned, the age of the child who would have to give up their bedroom is hugely important, and their objection to changing rooms should not be dismissed just because they are a child. If I told my 10-year-old that her bedroom was going to be given to the AP this would be a huge problem, and could cause resentment all year long. Personally, I would never even ask my child to switch rooms just so we could accomodate a particular AP. For an older child, bonding with a new AP can often be harder than it is for the little ones, and the last thing you need is to start off on the wrong foot, so I do not agree at all with the commenter who felt it would be unreasonable to cancel the match because of this.
In any case, the whole bedroom issue really does not seem the main point here.

To those who say “how would the HF feel if the situation were reversed and the AP cancelled the match?”:
I’d feel initially disappointed and irritated, but I would quickly assume it was for the best. Why would I want someone to match with me if it wasn’t what they really wanted? You only need to read a few of the horror stories on this site to realize that cancelling a match before arrival is far preferable to living through the hell of a bad match/rematch.

Finally, as has been stated on this site so many times, “there is a lid for every pot”. Just because another family thought this AP was fabulous doesn’t necessarily mean that she will be a great fit for your family. If your instincts are telling you that you may not like having her live with you, don’t go through with the match.

2ndGuessingHostMom November 19, 2015 at 1:12 am


Hi everyone. THANK YOU so much for all of the well thought out pieces of advice. I appreciate all of the thoughts here. The AP left for vacation the day I sent in my question and is not able to Skype or call. I do plan to talk to her about things as soon as she returns over the weekend. I am going to try to clear these worries up because before this last Skype, we had only really great feelings about her. Her current HD literally raved about her for an hour call so I think it’s worth a conversation to be sure about things. Both of my previous APs also spoke to her at length and got good vibes too. I may be over compensating here because of the recent terrible experience for sure which is why I wrote in.

There were quite a few questions posed so let me answer them and see if they change anyone’s perspective:

Room issue: daughter is 13 so the room thing is a bigger deal than for younger kids. She’s a creature of habit plus she got to choose the robin’s egg blue wall color, bedding, etc not all that long ago. We could paint the AP bedroom if need be, but it’s a shame as the AP suite is quite lovely with a more peaceful color which goes with the couch and bedding well. I think/hope she’d get over it if we do decide to stay with the AP but I do have some guilt over it as it’s not a willing and happy switch. We are most definitely a parent run household though so my girl does know there is a greater good at stake here and she really wants a good match too.

The big issue here is the bathroom though. I’m looking into the hand held option someone mentioned but the main issue is that the AP suite bath is a claw foot tub so it’s elevated off the floor quite a bit and the clearance is exactly 6′ from tub bottom to ceiling. The shower head is one of the older, fixed direction type poles and shower heads so there is no way to adjust things easily as is. She will just barely not hit her head so things like lathering up with shampoo will cause her to stoop down even if I do get a shower situation that she could hold.

The AP isn’t the one pushing for the change here BTW – I just know from my last APs best friend who was 6′ that our suite isn’t ideal for someone tall. The tall girl complained to my last AP about how uncomfortable it was to bend down in the shower, and I’m guessing that this would grate on the incoming AP after a bit and cause grumpiness. I did just buy a new bed frame and rearrange the room to be better for a tall person (the bed was floating without a head or footboard as a “daybed” before which felt odd if you were super tall) but the bathroom can’t have much done to help things.

The handbook question: I did give it to her before we matched and reviewing it was our last Skype before being official. I’m really torn on this one. I never had a handbook with my first 2 APs and things worked out quite well. During the re-match process of trying to work things out with the #3 girl, my LCC basically told me I needed one. I used 2 different friend’s handbooks and actually took quite a lot of the detail out and either eliminated or lightened their rules so it didn’t feel like tough or intense guide to us.

We actually are pretty mellow HPs and don’t have strict curfew, provide the AP car 99% of the time on and off duty (it’s rare we need to use it) plus offer generous perks like paying for all toiletries, extra food, unlimited cell phone, etc. When I read it, it feels like common sense stuff to me but it is very spelled out ( in part because of the not-good AP#3). So maybe it feels probably pretty micro managing? And maybe that uptight verbiage is what her less than stellar comments during the conversation was about? I got a some-what similar reaction from another older woman I was talking to but after talking more about things she was fine – her current HPs didn’t have a handbook at all so she was taken aback by the whole thing. In reality I’m not micro-managing. I’m a “you respect my family/house and we’ll respect you person” that expects someone to be mature. I don’t care what day things get done as long as they mostly get done within a given work week. I think maybe the family handbook question is a separate post though (LOL). I just wonder if it sounds too strict or something even though we loosened it up a lot from my friend’s versions.

The milk point that got brought up was about a comment in the daily routine for my toddler. This wasn’t a translation thing – the woman’s English is excellent. She didn’t say we were gross. She asked about why we give her milk before she sleeps (part of her ritual was my reply and I added that I wasn’t sure how much longer we’d do it given she’s almost 2.5). Then she said something about yeah, you should probably look into that (which is an OK thing to say) but then added that a friend pointed out “I mean, would you give your breast milk to an animal?? It’s pretty gross when you think about it.” And went on to say that she introduced soy milk to her host kids now.

I basically stumbled and tried to lighten things up by saying yes, I see her side but there’s also the issue of GMOs in soy so who really knows what the right thing is these days? haha” trying to change the subject and then she re-iterated the breast milk thing. So it is obviously something she has a strong opinion on.

That said, I think if I said we were doing milk she’d probably go along. Yet it again falls in the “is this going to fester and over time cause bad feelings category?” I did look at her DISC again and she is a wants peace and harmony person that lets others set course of action, so maybe this won’t be an issue at all given her nature?

At this point we are not comparing her to the other candidate. We are just trying to decide if these issues are salvageable. If anyone has any thoughts about how to best talk about this with her please share. I’m worried that I’ll either get super defensive reactions or an overly “it’s going to be great – you’re the boss” knee jerk reaction. Aside from the milk thing and handbook Skype convo we really do think she seems terrific…genuinely interested in child development and activities, warm & loving, great driver, wants to be involved with the family, etc.

Someone said she let down her guard and showed who she really is during the exchange. I often believe to be true with people that they show who they are in the beginning of relationships it’s just a matter of if you are listening to it or not. Or if we can deal with the room thing, is the milk issue just her pet peeve? I have my own pet issues – we all do right? Thoughts?

Should be working November 19, 2015 at 1:40 pm

It sounds like this is worth another conversation before cancelling the match. One of the HMs on here, maybe TexasHM, has written about how before the final matching they have one “confrontational” (that’s an exaggeration) phone call where the HM lays out really directly any remaining concerns, and watches carefully for the reaction. If the AP seems able to take feedback and address concerns maturely, then ok. Because there WILL always be issues with an AP during the year, and maybe the ability to take feedback non-defensively is therefore at least as important as being a “good match” on all the up-front qualities.

So I revise my vote and would go for another phone conversation about your worries, in which you are VERY direct and even express annoyance or whatever other genuine feeling you have about the milk comment. Her reaction should be very telling. Keep us posted!!

TexasHM November 20, 2015 at 11:38 pm

Yep I’m a huge fan of the challenge email. Although I do it as a last round before matching you could take the approach here. Tell her honestly your concerns and explain and then ask her to explain herself and why it won’t be a problem. She needs to “sell” you. Much better to do this now than after arrival. Remember a lot gets lost in ESL confusion – even with APs with fantastic English. I see it all the time. Seek first to understand. This is also insurance so if she gets there and starts trying to introduce soy milk etc you can squash it immediately and this will show her you are serious and these things are non negotiable. If it became a big battle you’d also have it to show LC for rematch conversation.

If you have the full conversation and aren’t 100% convinced then I would cancel. Trust your gut. One time I had second thoughts about an AP but ignored the yellow flags and pushed on and she was our only burnout rematch AP. (Sent straight home it was that bad.). Give her the benefit of the doubt, air it all out, then recheck your gut.

Seattle Mom November 19, 2015 at 7:56 pm

I agree that you should open up and press her (kindly) on the milk issue. Make sure she’s willing to do it and she understands that you do not wish to hear her arguments against drinking milk anymore- she is not going to make this her project. That would be really annoying!

As for soymilk, this is besides the point but soy is a huge hormone disruptor. I would not give my kids soy products on a regular basis. I know that dairy isn’t the greatest thing ever, but I think it’s less harmful than soy.

Emerald City HM November 20, 2015 at 7:36 pm

I wouldn’t want an AP giving my kids soy milk either. Yes I eat tofu and what not somewhat frequently, but it is not her decision to change my children’s diet.

LuckyHM#3 November 19, 2015 at 10:02 pm

OP – good luck with whatever you decide. After reading your clarifying post, i feel even more strongly that I would cancel the match if it were me. The context for the milk comment is actually worse than i got from your OP. This to me feels like a very sanctimonious reaction because she clearly believes in her moral superiority of not eating meat. Really!, she’s equating giving your child milk to you giving your breast milk to animals :-( And not taking your cues and repeating the statement while inviting you to task your braining with thinking.. wow. Also, the thought that it was okay to introduce someone else kids to soy milk just buggers my mind. Apart from the potential harmful effects of soy on hormones especially young girls, woe betide any APs who because of their personal philosophy decides to change my children’s diet in a fundamental way!

Also your daughter being 13 makes this a really tough situation. So i feel for you especially since she’s a creation of habit.

There’s nothing wrong with having a HB. i do know that many extension APs who never had a HB in their first HF find it tough. AP#1 best friend was in a similar situation and i heard soo much of the complaints about the “horrible” HF who dared to give her a HB till i actually read the HB and it was pretty benign as HBs go. This AP eventually rematched because she had a vision of what her 2nd year should be and ended with a truly horrid HF that she ended going home 2 months in.

I feel strongly about this because i have been in a somewhat similar situation so i could totally be projecting my own angst on your situation so totally feel free to disregard :-)

LuckyHM#3 November 19, 2015 at 10:05 pm

pressed submit too fast!

Finally, i would never again match with an AP with food restrictions so no vegetarian, vegan, whiterian, halal etc unless my family shared the same dietary regimen. i never knew how difficult that can be for us at least.

QuirkyMom November 20, 2015 at 12:34 pm

I screen for this as well — having been a vegetarian myself for 20+ years before giving it up for various reasons, and having family members who variously are vegetarian, keep kosher, don’t eat tomatoes, etc. I am very used both to being the one who has to be accommodated as well as being the one who has to try to solve the Venn diagram of who can eat what. What may work out at Thanksgiving with some planning is far more than I can deal with for everyday cooking, so I will not even consider matching with someone who is vegetarian, or keeps kosher, or doesn’t eat red meat, or only eats halal meat, or doesn’t eat dairy, or has food allergies. We just have way too much on our plates to have to deal with shopping for or cooking different meals. And having been a zealous vegetarian myself when I was a very young adult, I am not going to deal with a true believer of any kind because I know all too well from both sides of that issue how hard it can be for many people to live and let live, especially during the daily interactions. A way of eating can be so tied up in religious, moral, or ethical concerns that it is practically a religion in and of itself.

Boy Au Pair Spain November 20, 2015 at 7:55 am

I think youre being a little harsh on her. There is no indication that she plans on giving the children soy without the mothers permission. She is merely expressing an opinion. I personally believe her logic is faulty (aside from the fact that I dont see anything gross in a woman expressing milk for animals either..) but thats not the point. Would you really have a problem with this comment if it were anyone else but a teenager you pay to look after your children that said it? I think sometimes there is a difficulty accepting a differing opinion from someone you pay and can lawfully eject from your house a replace at any moment but.. Does it really matter that much that you have different moral values? She has chosen the family despite this and she is not planning on changing anything – there is no scary threat to the family.

New to This November 20, 2015 at 11:12 am

Can’t speak for the OP, but I would be very annoyed at the same comment from a friend or family member. Some of this might be cultural, but casual criticism of other people’s dietary choices are considered extremely rude in my circles, and so are judgmental comments about other people’s parenting choices. My sister, who’s been a vegetarian since we were teenagers, wouldn’t dream of evangelizing to me over it (any more than I would dream of telling her to just relax and order the chicken sandwich if there’s no veggie option on the menu), and I’ve exchanged harsh words with my own mother after too many snide remarks from her about things we were doing with the baby. Both eating and parenting are very emotionally loaded topics, and in both cases there are just too many different possible approaches out there, with too many complex reasons why people choose the ones they do, for other people’s idle negativity to have any place.

Also, apropos of very little, I HAVE actually offered my breast milk to an animal — had some expressed milk on my fingers after pumping, offered it to the cat to lick off. Turned out she wasn’t interested, but I figured it’s the least I could do, with everything she puts up with these days. :-)

LuckyHM#3 November 20, 2015 at 3:47 pm

Yes, I would have the same issue with the comment even if it were a friend or relative. Frankly, the ” no scary threat to the family ” is table stayed stakes for anyone coming into my home. I need way more than that for my AP. I hazard a guess that most of the AP program applicants are not “scary threat to most HF all things being equal. For an AP/HF at least in the US to work at its best, the two parties have to both choose each other unlike perhaps your experience in Europe and the AP did most of the choosing. This HM seems to be unsure of her choice and I think I like a lot of the other HMs are merely saying that you should do everything possible to be sure of her choice including considering cancellation of the match if that is her choice especially at this early stage. Extension APs here are kinda top of the totem pole and they do get a premium in terms of their ability to have better options than their OOC counterparts

Boy Au Pair Spain November 20, 2015 at 4:06 pm

Yes there is of course more to it than merely not being a threat to the family but you were suggesting that the milk comments is so terrible that she should rematch, despite the positive things that we have been told about her. My comment about not being a threat was to say that it isnt the huge dangerous thing that I felt your post was suggesting.

Of course in Europe the families choose the au pair too but the equilibrium of supply is different. In the USA the families are in a stronger position in terms of being able to pay less per hour, demand more hours, write handbooks of rules etc. In Europe they cannot afford to do that because there isnt the supply. To me, if a family recieves 200 applicants the families clearly has more choice in the decision as a native English experienced au pair has in Europe.

Meg November 20, 2015 at 4:26 pm

But to a point you made before (an excellent point) EVERY Au Pair will see things the HP do and think badly of some things. Some of that is culture. Some is just that having someone in your home is a fairly big deal. So this person is going to see us, and our kids not at our best. Fair or not, if someone was going to harshly comment every time something I do as a mom raises their eyebrows a little it would really make my home uncomfortable for me. I’m not proud of that, but I’m aware of it. So, if I was this OP I’d be concerned about finding that out.

Taking a Computer Lunch November 20, 2015 at 10:41 am

Look, sometimes APs express opinions without thinking about how it sounds – I recall being a little too blunt as a 20-something myself. While I’m still opinionated, as a middle-aged adult I’ve learned to temper most of my remarks, or to soften them with an opening, “In my opinion…” Over the years, I have heard some pretty rude-sounding remarks out of the mouths of APs, but those who worked hard and did their job well were forgiven. While you should state outright, “I do not want you giving your children soy milk,” to an AP who has stated she’s already introduced it to her current HK, you might meet her halfway by purchasing local organic milk (sure, it’s more expensive, but the cows won’t have been given antibiotics or hormones themselves) as a sign that you respect her need for healthy food. Personally, as someone who is allergic to everything that comes from a cow, I drink soy milk because I find almond milk a little too harsh for my stomach (although I eat plenty of almonds for calcium).

I’ve just welcomed by 12th AP into my house, and I will tell you that I have learned from most of the APs have come into the house – including the one with whom we went into rematch after 8 weeks! Each has brought a little trick or a way of doing something that I hadn’t considered before, which makes my life easier and helps me care for The Camel better.

That being said, there are some things that I do want my kids to eat (although now that the typically developing child is a teenager, I don’t seem to be able to stop him!) The Camel has no choice – she can’t open the fridge!

AupairNYC November 19, 2015 at 6:28 pm

I would just have another skype session with her and make it clear that it’s okay she is a vegan but you have a different lifestyle and it’s not her place to change it. Ask her if she is really sure she will be comfortable ,as a vegan , to be in a non-vegan family.
Regarding the room , remind your daughter that’s it is only for a year (or two) and that she will get her bathroom back eventually. If she is really reluctant to the idea , maybe suggest painting the walls of her new bedroom or you could buy her a new piece of furniture ?

For the mean comment , everyone has issue . I remember that my agency pushed me to write more about my mother when I had nothing positive to say about her . That was really annoying . It’s almost like the au pair has to have a perfect life to be approved by the agency. At least that’s how I felt. But anyway, family issues are not something you want to bring up during a Skype session. The relationship she has with her family will not determine the one she will have with yours ;)

So I’d say, have another skype session and share your concerns with her and make sure you’re both on the same page !

Anna November 19, 2015 at 11:49 pm

The milk conversation would really bother me too. In the next conversation i would confront her directly and say that in order to match with us she must follow your food instructions for kids, not introduce any new foods and not substitute any foods, and keep her food related comments and opinions to herself, both in front of your kids and you. She wouldnt lime you commenting on how she looks so pale she needs to eat some red meat. If she is so opinionated she wont be able to do it. Do you really want someone brainwashing your 13 yr old girl about food??? Even if not overtly, but by example…

NJ Mom November 20, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Reading the additional details, I would definitely have a frank discussion with the AP and strongly lean towards canceling the match.

From the previous conversation, the AP does sound like the kind of person who will try to influence your children and household on eating habits (she said that she had great success before) as well as be vocal about her own opinion. If this is something you do not want her to do, I would be upfront about it and see if she reacts well. If her responsibilities include cooking and/or serving dairy and meat to your children, you may want to communicate that she must do so while keeping her personal opinions to herself. Also I would clarify what the expectations are for providing the AP a vegan diet. Is the AP going to be preparing her own meals? Is the AP expecting the HP to cook vegan meals? How much $ is the HF going to provide for the separate meals/snacks/drinks vs what the AP needs to spend for specialty items? At celebrations, is there the expectation of a separate vegan cake? For our family, we look for someone with a similar diet because we frankly don’t have the time or energy to cater to special diets. That doesn’t mean we don’t learn to cook meals from the AP’s country/culture, stock AP favorites, and adjust our meals to exclude certain foods the AP dislikes. If our AP was vegan and took full responsibility for her diet and didn’t mind that the HF follows a different diet, we wouldn’t have a problem with it. But we would not match with an AP who is vegan and expects us to change our household to accommodate her, or who would feel left out of meals/celebrations due to diet. Clarifying these nuances could save the AP and HF from a difficult year. One local meat eating AP didn’t realize until arriving that she couldn’t have any meat in her vegetarian HF’s house (not even in a mini fridge in the AP’s room). She stuck out her year, but she would’ve matched differently had she known that she couldn’t prepare her meat for her own meals.

For the shower and room arrangement, personally I don’t think there is anything wrong with having physical qualities as AP selection criteria when there is a practical purpose. If a tall AP will not fit into your shower comfortably (without doing a room swap) then not matching with a tall individual is reasonable unless the AP would not mind the arrangement (maybe they prefer baths). You don’t have anything against tall people, just that they may not be comfortable in the room/bathroom you have available. Our last AP was tall, and our current AP is close to my height. We didn’t select specifically for height, but did keep it in mind because the AP and I swap cars frequently (car seats). Having to adjust the driver’s seat constantly while not a deal breaker does get tiresome. Many HF look for certain qualities based on lifestyle or limitations. When someone lives with your family, there are a lot of factors that become very important that normally would be considered discrimination (country of origin, sex, religion, diet, lifestyle choices, etc). My opinion is that for the most part, these are valid factors due to the living arrangements. As long as the HF is open, honest, and kind about it, there’s no reason to feel guilty.

For the handbook, we do have an extensive handbook. We use it as a way to communicate what areas are important to us, and what areas the AP has more leeway. We intend it as a resource our AP can reference during that first month if they feel uncomfortable about asking us the “10th” time. Our handbook is a little on the long side mainly because it explains the reasons behind the rules. Also, it has instructions on how to use certain things (washer dryer, TV, microwave, etc) We always communicate verbally and in the handbook itself is that if there’s something the AP disagrees with, that they can discuss with us on modifying the handbook/rules. We’ve adjusted things like curfews and car rules as the year progresses. Some of the things we have in the handbook may seem obvious to us, but it might not be obvious to someone from a different culture.

Just as a funny story, I was visiting a foreign country and couldn’t figure out how to take a shower. The only bathroom with a tub/shower didn’t have a shower curtain and I ended up sitting in the tub as low as I could and using the handheld shower head pointed towards the inside as much as possible as to not get water all over the bathroom. When my host woke up later and took her shower, I was surprised that in that country, you shower openly in the bathroom and everything in the bathroom gets wet.

That said, I can see why an AP might scoff at a handbook that has a lot of “obvious” things. What’s obvious to one person is a revelation to another. If the AP’s comments about the handbook are because she disagrees with it and can’t abide by the rules… that’s a different story and would be a red flag for cancelling the match.

calihostmom November 20, 2015 at 9:34 pm

I’d have a follow-up conversation and gauge not only her level of courtesy, but how she responds to criticism. Don’t forget that this person is going to model behavior for your kids for a year.

Tomas November 23, 2015 at 2:53 pm

You should follow your intuition. Mom’s intuition is unparalleled to any other means of cognitive measure.
She is not only referring to the milk being gross, but also to you that are giving your children milk. She is showing no respect for your authority as a mom to decide what is best for your children.
Cancelling a match that hasn’t even started is nothing comparing to rematching.

oranje_mama November 23, 2015 at 3:54 pm

Two comments:

1. Screening for dietary restrictions. I will not match with anyone vegetarian, let alone vegan. I immediately check whether the prospective AP has indicated dietary restrictions, and eliminate anyone who’s indicated anything other than minor (ie, allergy to tree nuts or lactose-intolerant are OK). We also emphasize that we eat together as a family, including AP, and serve one meal for everyone. No short order cooking. I figure the vegetarian/vegan girls need to match with vegetarian/vegan families!

2. Go with your gut. Be especially cautious with extension APs. We’re on our 4th AP. 3 have been successes, 1 was a bust. The bust was an extension AP – her story for why she wanted to extend with a different family seemed plausible – she wanted to change the part of the country she was in; move from a location with almost no APs, to one with an AP community; and wanted to be with school aged kids for more older kid/AP interaction (she had been with an infant for a year). I spoke with her HM who gave a qualified recommendation. Her main gripe with the AP were that she pushed back on work hours (HM/HD were doctors on call and AP insisted on keeping to the 10 hour max work day). Shortly after matching, my gut was telling me this match was a mistake. AP had no self-starter quality AT ALL. She needed to be spoon fed every little drip of information. I had to prompt her and prompt her to make her travel arrangements. She wanted to come with us for part of a vacation then meet a friend – which was fine – but she wanted me to figure out her personal travel arrangements for her! I wish I’d listened to my gut and canceled the match. She had to be directed in every.single.little.thing. Zero initiative in anything. Also, the extension app (at least in APIA) does not require updated photos/video/etc. This AP turned out to have an (undiagnosed) eating disorder, and must have gained 50-60 pounds during her AP year. DH was literally shocked when he picked her up from the airport. Anyway, we ended up terminating that match early. I will not consider extension candidates now, and from now on, I’m listening to my gut. If I have second thoughts before they arrive, I’m cancelling.

Up _ and _ coming AP February 7, 2016 at 12:21 pm

Yes trust your guts

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