I’m writing on behalf of my friend, who is a nanny. I think that the situation she’s in might also be relevant to au pairs, and so I’d like to share it with you for consideration.
My friend is an awesome nanny. She has worked for her non-religious family for the past 2 years. The children are older (10 and 12), so please keep this mind. When she started, she was a non-denominational Christian, and they knew/respected this. She keeps her religious views to herself, and it had never been a problem.
About 6 months ago, she began attending a very conservative church. I will refrain from naming the denomination, but basically the doctrines consist of women not wearing pants (so dresses and skirts only, etc), no drinking, dancing, etc. Of course the drinking, dancing, etc do not really relate to her job, but the change in clothing seems to be a bit of a problem.
My friend is still the same great nanny, and still keeps her religious beliefs to herself (meaning, she does not talk about them and she does not prostheletize).
But, it seems to be a problem for the family that she only wears skirts and dresses in public. Because of this restriction, she cannot go swimming in public. The children are excellent swimmers, and in previous summers my au pair never has gotten into the pool with them when she takes them to the local pool. They normally meet friends, and she monitors the activities from the sidelines, by sitting close to the pool. Of course she is and has always been ready to jump in if something happened. Nothing has changed in the way she does her job or relates to the children.
Another, more subtle concern is whether her host family feels that her new behaviors suggest that she thinks they aren’t good people. (She loves the family and respects them.) I notice that the Host Mom doesn’t really dress in a conservative, modest manner herself, and I wonder if this creates a problem.
In the end, the parents say she is no longer the nanny she was when they hired her, and are letting her go. She has accepted it, and found another family. It has been very sad all around.
Here is what I think the issue boils down to: In the event your AP changes religions, would you work with it? Or let her go?.
A change in religion or in level of religious observance might change her diet, appearance, etc. But if it does not effect her job performance, should it matter?
Anyways, I would love to hear all of your thoughts on this.
Images: Skirt, Socks, Shoes, Cement, and Poolside Glamor from Orin Zebest