When Your Au Pair Connects With Everyone But You

by cv harquail on July 30, 2015

Not every Au Pair hits it off with every family member.

Sometimes there’s a kid or a parent for whom the Au Pair’s personality is a perfect fit.

3507408739_4131fde899_zSometimes the Au Pair is ‘primed’ to listen to one parent over the other because of the Au Pair’s own family history.

Sometimes the Au Pair’s home cultural norms can influence the strength of different relationships, such as when s/he takes directions only from the male or female parent because that’s what happens back at home.

And especially when Host Parents split the Good Cop/Bad Cop roles, or when one parent is the Default Parent and the other more detached, these patterns will influence the Au Pair to connect with each parent differently.

It doesn’t matter how normal it is…

When you’re the parent who’s NOT the one in close contact with the Au Pair, it can feel awkward.

Who wants to be the less-liked person in her/his own home?

What can you do, if the less-liked parent is you?

What can your spouse do to help you?

Ideas wanted!!


Hello CV,  I have been following your blog for a few months.  I wish I had found it before we looked for an au pair!  There is so much great information here.  

I currently have my first au pair and I need some advice.  I am having trouble connecting with her. She has been with us for 3 months now and has avoided talking with me. Instead, she seems to feel more comfortable interacting with my spouse, who works at home.

At first I thought the issue was with her English: It’s worse than I thought in the pre-match interviews. She has said I speak fast and so I have tried to speak more slowly but it doesn’t make a difference.  

She has connected quite well with my husband. She speaks with him about everything and not me. She comes out when she knows my husband is the one she might run into and not me.

I feel like she has been colder to me than to my spouse. She doesn’t make any effort to speak to me when I am home and the kids are asleep. I work very long hours including early mornings and late evenings.

When I come home at the end of the day, I like and need to to spend time with my children alone.  

I have a 3 and 4 year old and they tend to talk through dinner so it is hard to carry on a conversation with anyone else and I don’t want to cut them off when I haven’t seen them all day.  Our Au Pair stays for dinner and generally doesn’t speak.

I don’t feel like I can/should mandate that she come out of her room in the evenings to speak to me when I am home, but I am not sure what else to do.  I am beginning to be jealous of the relationship she has with the rest of the family.

At the root of it, I am having trouble balancing the guilt of being away with trying to feel comfortable with this person in my home.  

 Any thoughts/advice you can give to help make this go smoother? HostMomInRichland


See Also: Struggling to Communicate With Host Dad


Photo by Jessica Wilson on Flickr


German Au-Pair July 30, 2015 at 7:00 pm

I know it takes a certain kind of person on both the giving and the receiving end but if it bothers you this much I would absolutely try to be upfront about it. You said she spends time in her room so it’s not like she’s out and about the second she’s off. I’d use that and ask her to participate in a fun activity with the family (move night? eating out? BBQ?) If she can talk to your husband by now, she can talk to you language wise and I’d tell her something along the lines of “I know we haven’t been able to spend much bonding time due to my crazy schedule but I would like you to feel comfortable around me, too. Would you like to do xy some time.2 Give her advance notice so she can come up with an excuse if she really doesn’t want to.
Sometimes it’s a strange dynamic where the HM gives a certain vibe without being aware of it (especially since you start to feel jealous) and I actually know some APs who have avoided the HM in a similar situations because they felt insecure about what the HM thought of them.
You say you want your kids for yourself and that may be enough to give off a vibe you’re not aware of. Maybe tell her why you let the kids keep talking through dinner and that you regret that you cannot talk much to the grownups. Maybe offer her a glass of wine or whatever (if she’s 21) so she has a chance to sit with you and chat.
I don’t see a way to change the situations without being frank about the elephant in the room.

WarmStateMomma July 30, 2015 at 8:26 pm


This may sound weird, but my husband has more trouble speaking plain English to our APs than I do. The APs understand me a lot better and I’m a bit better at intuiting the word they are trying to find. My husband will ask the AP, “Did you make it through the day without any bloodshed?” The AP’s head is spinning but she understands perfectly when we ask, “How are you? Did you have a good day?” If verbal communication is a problem, I’d give some thought to using simple, direct English.

German Au-Pair July 31, 2015 at 7:53 pm

OH my god, this is literally my HD. He would ask the taxi driver in a foreign speaking country if he understood English and the taxi driver answers IN the foreign language “a bit” and my HD goes “Well, we’re meeting some friends over at…” and continues to elaborate on our plans for the day and a description of the place because he wasn’t sure on the name and you could see the driver’s face drop and I chime in “*destination* please” :D Happened more than once, too. SO funny.

HRHM July 30, 2015 at 7:26 pm

There is often a good deal of transferrance toward the host parents based on the APs interaction with her biological parents. I noticed this so much with 1-3 that I now use it as a screening tool when choosing an AP. AP1 was VERY enmeshed with her mom and distant (afraid) with her father . AP2 adored both her parents. AP3 was estranged from her father and contensious with her mom. All three totally repeated that pattern with us. It may be illuminating to sit with her and talk about what her family is like (casually) to just hear the undertones. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s a “daddy’s girl” who fights with mom.

You are also at a disadvantage because you are gone long hours and your kids are little. I had the same issue early on (now my kids are big and my job is awesome) and you have to make some time to connect with her. There is nothing wrong, even with little ones, of setting the tradition to hear about everyone’s day at the dinner table. We go around the table and give our “Pow & Wow” for the day each night. We all take turns and it gives everyone a chance to air troubles or give kudos or get congratulated. This includes the adults.

You don’t need to carve out a girls weekend with her, just maybe one evening a week, have DH do the bathtime routine while you and AP linger at the table and chat. At least then , you’ll know it’s not you.

DowntownMom July 30, 2015 at 10:18 pm

HRHM, you always hit the nail on the head! We have had this same trend with APs. I made an effort for weeks with one of our APs, gave up and threatened rematch, and lo and behold, she turned around completely. OP seems to sense that something is off, so I do not recommend going out of your way at this point. Tell her that you cannot live with someone who seems uncomfortable around you. You absolutely do not want to live with this for another day. I am the HM who used to give my APs time and coddle them, and discovered that it wore me out. If you have a gut feeling that something is off, it is off. Just confronting her will make you feel better. It sounds like you are already doing your best and treating her decently. Like everyone here always emphasizes, the AP is here to make your life better and happier. Good luck!

Seattle Mom July 31, 2015 at 3:10 pm

Wow, I am really intrigued by the idea of transference from the AP’s relationships with their own parents to host parents. I may have to look for APs who are close with their fathers, because my husband is home more than I am and yet the APs still seem to want to talk to me more. Of course DH is not the easiest person to get along with.. that could be it too. Some APs have bonded with him better than others, but they all seem to have some difficulty. I may try to find one who gets along well with dad, and maybe that will help.

SKNY July 30, 2015 at 9:26 pm

As a former au pair I had that experience.
The first family had a dad who was the fun guy. Mom worked long areas, dad was always around, he was reasonable, accomodating… my interactions with mom we’re always stressful, because I rarely saw her, and when I did it was to complain. At the time I just thought she had problems… she indeed lost it badly when I requested rematch, and told agency that if I ever tried to contact the kids she would ask a restraining order against me.
In retrospect, now that I am a mom and all, she worked long long hrs, she had 4 kids, two autistic (one severely), and HD really did not help. She was the only responsible for all the serious stuff. Wish I had the maturity to understand her there.

On second family mom was spetacular. HD stayed home all day with me. She worked long hrs, she knew I was with her Husband most days, but she was just this well resolved person. She was confident, personable, great person all around. I looked upon her. She was someone I wanted to be like. Dad was not bad, but he was dealing with a lot of drama from his first marriage, and was always angry and crabby. I just avoided him because he was always complaining, mad at someone, etc….

German Au-Pair July 31, 2015 at 7:57 pm

Doesn’t sound like you lacked maturity if she threatened you with a restraining order…

SKNY July 30, 2015 at 9:27 pm

As far as your au pair go, I would ask her out sometime during the week. A bar, or park, somewhere you can bond, get to know each other

Should be working July 31, 2015 at 12:58 am

As a first-time HM I would have felt how the OP does about this situation. After 5 APs, however, I would suggest a reframe: Does the AP do a good job with the kids? Does she make your life easier? Is she a decent roommate? Does she seem content with the HF overall? If yes to all these, then perhaps the OP should spend less energy worrying about the relationship with the AP. And rematch seems to me like shooting a pigeon with a cannon.

The kids are small and the OP works long hours. Why should the OP spend any extra time trying to get to know the AP if all is going well and the OP doesn’t have much spare time? It might not be the personal bond the OP expected or hoped for, but an AP who does a good job with kids and is a decent roommate is a great thing–especially for a HM who isn’t home much and when home wants to be with her small children.

Maybe she’s projecting mommy drama onto the HM, maybe the AP is cold to the HM. But if everything else is going well, you win: You have a low-maintenance AP to make your high-maintenance life easier.

Seattle Mom July 31, 2015 at 3:12 pm


TexasHM July 31, 2015 at 8:58 am

I tend to agree. We had a spell towards the end with AP1 where it was clear she was avoiding me and cold but still chatty with my husband (which was funny because they weren’t chatty the other 1.75 years she was with us and made it obvious) but was great with the kids and doing enough of the job that I decided I didn’t care any longer what her problem was (she was a regular source of drama) so ignored it.

This sounds like it too could be a glass half full scenario instead of half empty. My APs have often been much slower to warm up to my husband than me. They have said it’s because he is a guy, harder to understand and they didn’t want to make a cultural mistake that made anyone think there was something going on between them or give me any reason to suspect they would ever do anything. In this case you have the opposite scenario – she is very comfortable with your hubs and kids which is fantastic! I wonder, have you mentioned this to your husband and if so, what is his feedback? Does he think you are reading too much into it or does he see the same pattern? Could he perhaps talk to the AP about it? (Since she seems warm to him.) Also keep in mind that she too works long hours with a 3 and 4 year old so it’s normal for her to need a break in the evenings and likely isn’t about you as much as it is her getting some much needed downtime after hopefully giving 100% all day.

Also, while I get that you work long hours and want to chat with the kids and that’s all perfectly fine, what about weekends? Could you invite her to join you for weekend activities like going to the lake, out to eat somewhere unique, local sites, etc? I also tend toward the side that if this was bothering me I would say something to her. Nothing confrontational, just something like “We are really happy you are here and you are doing an awesome job. The kids love you and its clear that you and hubs get along really well. Is there anything we can be doing better?” Hopefully if something is bothering her she will take that opportunity to air it. If not and she says no you are awesome then I would dive back in with “I know we don’t see each other as much but I would love to have a relationship like you have with HD and the kids, what can I do to help make that happen?” As others have said, it might be good to try to take her to lunch on the weekend or if shes an awesome AP maybe something she would love like treat her to a manicure or something you would do with a girlfriend.

I tend to also agree with the comment that you might be projecting a vibe unintentionally. As someone that tends to be the mass AP mom in our area I constantly hear APs talking about how their HM seems “stressed” or “frustrated” or “crazy” and when I ask if they asked her what was bothering her or if they could do something to help? Crickets. If you come home from long hours she may sense that you are tired and want alone time with the kids and may feel like she is in the way of that or an added burden to you (another mouth to feed, person to manage) and that may be perpetuating her keeping her distance. Especially if she is a great AP (worth their weight in gold) I would invest in her whether that is time, extra privileges, a small gift she would love, girls date, and whether you get the warmth back or not. Good luck!

German Au-Pair July 31, 2015 at 8:07 pm

I would NOT ask the HD to speak to the AP about it. I just picture this scenary…HM doesn’t know what’s wrong, maybe the AP feels awkward too. Now HM and HD have clearly talked about it, HD asks you about it…first, what’s your next move going to be? “Oh hey, your husband mentioned it’s weird between us…” ? Second, you might think the Hm is jealous if the HD asks you about it. It’s not like jealousy is not a thing. While the HMs here all seem very reasonable and confident, I’m sure other HMs might not be and you hear stories and you don’t know her well…
Also, what is she supposed to say? Answer honestly? Maybe there IS a problem (or a vibe) that she feels weird about. How is she supposed to tell the HD without feeling like she’s gossiping to him about his wife. She’ll also know everything WILL get back to the Hm since this is the purpose of the conversation.

I don’t know, I mostly see this leading to more awkwardness.
If there’s going to be a conversation, I would have it between the HM and the AP. If the Hm feels like neither she nor her are the type of person for a direct confrontation or the language barrier might make things weird, I would recommend an email. It gives you the chance not to feel like you’ve been put on the spot and look up words the other person uses and that you might want to use. It also gives you a time to think about the issue.

TexasHM July 31, 2015 at 10:01 pm

So I pictured it more like if the AP is truly fond/comfortable with HD he might be able to broach the subject better. Like “Since HM works long hours and doesn’t work from home it’s harder to connect with her but she mentioned wanting to try, what do you recommend?” Or “I was thinking I’d watch the kids this weekend so you and HM could grab lunch or manicure or something – what do you think?” And give her the opportunity to maybe open up to him (since she’s already more comfortable with him).

Several of my APs have asked me if my DH had a problem with them or didn’t like them (early on). They weren’t comfortable asking DH but were comfortable with me so asked me. I explained DH (smart, purposeful in speech, conservative, protective) and in the course of conversation they all realized they were reading too much into things or misunderstanding him and felt worlds better and all became more confident with him and went on to have great interactions with both of us. We all laugh about it now but they were very nervous and upset (3 of 4 did this) at the time. I just thought the same strategy might work in reverse since it worked for them/us!

German Au-Pair August 1, 2015 at 4:23 pm

Mhm, I get where you’re coming from and I’m sure different personality types may make a difference here. However, I still don’t see asking Hd to speak to her panning out that well, while I totally understand the APs asking the HM on advice on the HD.
When I’m an AP, it’s much harder to ask the HP if they have a personal problem with me because I’m in position of weakness. You cannot really offer much in terms of problem solving, you simply can ask if they’d be interested in hanging out and getting to know each other better (especially difficult when it’s about a HP of the opposite sex) and you basically can only ask and know they’re not going to say “Yes, you anny me terribly.” So it’s easier to ask the spouse about how you could make things better.
Whereas when you’re the HP you can offer possibilities on how to improve the situation and emphasize hwo you want them to feel comfortable around all of the family members (including you). To me there’s a difference. Maybe other Aps view it differentely, but I can see myself asking a HP about the other but feeling weird about one asking the other to talk to me about them.

Anna July 31, 2015 at 9:13 am

I would include her in your dinner conversation, same as your kids. “How was your day”, and really listening, would go a long way. That’s what “part of the family’ is about. it must feel awful from her side being in the middle of lively conversation at dinner, ignored.

Peachtree Mom July 31, 2015 at 10:02 am

Gosh, I can’t quite remember what games a 3 year old can play….Candyland? We play games together on the family room floor: me, our daughter and our aupair. Usually the cat comes and sits in the middle of what we are playing and we laugh. That broke the ice for us. From there conversations flowed more easily.

HRHM August 1, 2015 at 8:22 am

The achilles heal I see with this plan is that AP is home all day with 3 and 4 year old. I bet the LAST thing she wants to do at the end of a long work day with them is to bond with HM over a kids game. If my “boss” asked me to socialize after work by doing more “work” I’d already have other plans! LOL

DC Metro Mom July 31, 2015 at 10:05 am

I tend to agree with HRHM on the effect that the home relationship has on their HF relationship. I have also found that the opposite issue can impact the relationship. My issue-laden AP relationship was with an older AP who had previously lived with her mom following a divorce. So, she seemed to really want to attach to my husband.

Now, I will also own that I tend the be the confronter on relationship issues. DH on other issues, just not person-management ones.

I don’t really know the full vibe that OP is getting, but this particular AP was very affectionate toward my husband, and my daughter, but it almost felt like she was trying to replace me in my family. I put it off as just going back to work blues, but there were a couple of times where she tried to lie to me to go around my defined boundaries with my daughter, or put on shows that she was well aware would not fly during her work hours. When I told her that I expected my rules to be followed, she literally gave me the silent treatment, refusing to even answer a question about her day or what DD had done that day, intentionally ignoring me in front of my daughter. This is accurate, she admitted doing this intentionally to the LCC at a later time.

Thankfully, I had an amazing LCC that took the reigns on this. It turned out that the AP had had an equal status type relationship with her mom, and felt as though she should be able to do whatever she wanted in our house, with my child, etc. and she DID feel as though we should be co-alpha moms, making it difficult for all involved. I made it clear that there was ONE alpha female in my house, and that was me. I also informed her that if she had a suggestion for changing my house rules, or what could and could not be done with my daughter, she could discuss them privately, but, ultimately, my way or the highway.

For a number of reasons, it was the highway, eventually. However, the moral of the story is that it could be that you are projecting, but it could also be a situation of “just because you are paranoid…” There could be something to it, may not. If she rocks the rest of the time, in everything else, only you can determine if it is worth it to confront her. However, if you really are getting that vibe, consistently, I would address it. You don’t need to be miserable for a year.

FirstTimeHM August 6, 2015 at 8:34 am

Here also an au pair that is equal to her mom and is used to running the household at home as she likes, she doesn’t have any contact with her father.

She will speak to me but not to my husband and actively avoids him. She doesn’t want to be a part of our family and wants to get things into place here that she likes at home but that are not the way we raise our kids.

She’s here for a bit over a week now, but we’re about to give up. She’s a major source of drama. She likes the kids and is good with them, but doesn’t like us at all. The last thing she’s tried if ask us if we would hire a babysitter for the hour she’s up but not on duty to take care of the kids, and if we would then be either out in the garden or upstairs, and the same with the evening please so she doesn’t have to eat with us but can have company during her dinner. And she would like us to cook way more spicy than the kids can handle because she’s used to that. That stunt didn’t go too well with me, I’m going to have a chat tonight but I’m afraid we’ve got a princess on our hands.

old au pair mom August 6, 2015 at 10:36 am

Wow. Even all the years we have done this program, I fear the princess. I do not take on queen status here, no one is royalty when the trash needs to go out, etc. Best of luck. If you have a daughter, you might tell the new AP that your little one is the princess of your heart and the AP is her mom’s princess, but not yours. Please update about your chat!

Mimi August 6, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Be very firm about your expectations and that there is no room for negotiation on whatever points you need to. Although I think flexibility is important, when you have someone making so many demands this early on, I think you need to avoid this route to reset expectations. You may find that this puts her off and she leaves, but you’re in a good position to start fresh and reevaluate your matching process to try and screen out some of this or find a way to set better expectations.

FirstTimeHM August 7, 2015 at 11:19 am

And she was away last evening…
But this morning she asked if I could work from home the day that my husband is working from home. I’m sorry, this really doesn’t go well with me.
She’s gone to friends the moment her shift ends so we will need to have a chat when (if) she’s coming back.
The first day she’s asked if we could either buy a ‘normal’ house (she’s American and is used to a detatched house twice our size with half the amount of people) or add a huge part of the garden (also a lot smaller than she’s used to) to her room. Every day we’ve had new demands. This weekend my husband and I will have a good talk about everything we really don’t want.
We can live with someone who doesn’t want to be part of the family, although that’s what we understood what the whole programme was about, but not with someone who can’t stand us/our house/our rules/our food/etc.

Should be working August 7, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Sounds like you are not in the USA. But what kind of AP seriously asks a HF to move house or add to it? At least if you are in Europe you have an easier time because the contracts are, I believe, less stringent. Time to send her away!!

Mimi August 7, 2015 at 1:05 pm


FirstTimeHM August 7, 2015 at 1:09 pm

That’s correct, I’m in Europe. It’s our first au pair and we really try to make it work, especially because child care is hard to get in the place where we live, but I’m afraid that she’ll never be pleased.
We’re perfectly ok with eating American breakfast/lunch/dinner every now and then, but not always. We’re perfectly ok with her spending time with her friends and being away most weekends. We’re perfectly ok with hanging up things from home or helping her buy something she would really like for her room. But it’s not enough. My husband told me she asked him before she left for her friends when we would be out for an entire weekend. She didn’t give a reason, but I can guess one that I’m not ok with.
We have an agency here, but they will simply tell us that the au pair is not required to be anywhere near us during her free time, she’s only required to show up for her shift. And when she doesn’t show up, there’s nothing we can do about it, no reprisal, nothing, not even withholding her pay. Besides, an au pair is very vulnerable so completely alone in another country, so what the au pair says or wants goes as far as the agency’s concerned.
The agency has all of it’s fees since everything is payable up front, so it has no interest of being of assistance and I feel I’m bending over backwards to accomodate a princess that can never be pleased anyway and is making my life far more complicated than it was.

By the way, yesterday when she went out with the kids for an icecream she forgot to lock the door. She said it was very uncommon in the south and especially in the suburbs to do that. I’m not quite sure, but my gut feeling is that you also always lock the door.

I think I won’t be able to save this relationship and turn it into a good year, I’m not sure I even want after everything she’s said to me. We won’t go for another au pair I think. First of all it will cost us the same bundle and secondly I don’t want to risk another girl like this. I don’t want to go through all this ever again.

NoVA Twin Mom August 7, 2015 at 1:27 pm

And aren’t contracts outside the US often shorter than a year? How long is this American going to have to live in such a “horrible” situation anyway? :) (I say that sarcastically, as a couple of months in a different country sounds pretty good to me…) She either needs to learn to deal with cultural differences – one of which is that people that don’t live in the US live with more people in smaller houses than many of us do.

NoVA Twin Mom August 7, 2015 at 1:38 pm

I lived in the South about 15 years ago, in a small town (not exactly a suburb) and I was shocked how many people didn’t lock their back/side door. Some didn’t even seem to own keys to certain doors of their houses, and the solution was to simply never lock it. It was the way they were raised, and nothing scary enough had ever happened to them, to their friends, or close enough to them to make them change their ways.

Friends were shocked that I DID lock doors behind me, or that I would lock my car even in the driveway. What kind of awful neighborhood did I grow up in that I was so accustomed to doing that? Um, a mid-sized city, near the center – we just didn’t like the idea of other people in our house, and sometimes houses/cars did get broken into …

I had a similar problem with our second au pair – only she managed to not only not lock the door, she often didn’t CLOSE the door all the way. She wound up asking for rematch before we had a chance to.

We love the au pair program, and I think a different American candidate would give you a totally different experience (just like we’ve only had that kind of problem with one out of six au pairs … and our seventh is arriving at orientation on Monday!) I hope you’ll have the chance to try another au pair, but I have to admit that if my agency was as unsupportive as the one you describe I’d be looking for other childcare options too.

WarmStateMomma August 7, 2015 at 6:01 pm

I’m from Florida and the northern part of the state is in the South – everyone locked their doors in my Orlando and Jacksonville suburbs. Our house was still broken into twice and cars once or twice.

I always thought it was a “country” thing to say you don’t lock your doors, but maybe it’s more widespread than that.

NoVA Twin Mom August 7, 2015 at 1:41 pm

Sorry, I forgot to say that it doesn’t matter what she’s used to at home. If you ask her to lock the door (especially now that she knows you want her to) she needs to. Full stop.

Get the kids to remind her if you have to.

Mimi August 7, 2015 at 2:12 pm

We’re not door lockers, unless we’re gone for an extended time or the AP prefers it. (Small NE town with uber nosy neighbors makes for the best alarm system–my dad has been accosted by the neighbor and her dog when checking mail while we were on vacation.) That’s still no excuse for this AP.

Like NoVA Twin Mom, we also really enjoy the program and even after two rematches in a row are going to try it again and use those experiences to learn from. I also agree that you would be better with a different candidate (and agency if possible). When you are new to the process, it can be hard to translate your needs and preferences into a thorough long-distance interview process. Many of us here often find that there are some aspects of the AP relationship that we didn’t consider until it came up or there was a problem and we’ve had to refine our screening process accordingly. There are some great resources here for matching and HMs who are better at it than the professionals. :)

I wonder if there might be a support network (like this site) for HF in your area or country. Other HF who are more familiar with the particulars of your country’s regulations would be better equipped to help you navigate some of the legal issues when there are problems.

FirstTimeHM August 10, 2015 at 12:21 pm

And guess who came home after midnight on Sunday night and didn’t lock the door and send us a whatsapp (yes, at 1 am) that she didn’t know how to lock a door so we had to do it. She did know how to unlock it, so how hard can it be.
When she came out of her room 2 minutes before her shift I showed her how to lock the door and had her lock and unlock the door as well to see if she understood it. She was not pleased about that, too bad for her.
The lady from the agency is coming over on Wednesday to have a chat with all of us to see if this match can be saved but was not pleased by the behaviour of the au pair. I guess we’ll be in rematch from then on because I really don’t think this can be saved.

NoVA Twin Mom August 10, 2015 at 3:23 pm

As much as it annoys you now, I predict (from two rounds of experience) that once you officially “declare” rematch it will feel like a weight has lifted off your shoulders. Start reading up on rematch now, and keep in touch here. We’re in your corner. The good news is that it sounds like your coordinator agrees that something isn’t right here, which your original post made sound unlikely. So you have that at least! Good luck!

WarmStateMomma August 6, 2015 at 10:49 am

“she literally gave me the silent treatment, refusing to even answer a question about her day or what DD had done that day, intentionally ignoring me in front of my daughter”

Open disrespect like this would have my husband and I discussing rematch as soon as we could get a Plan B in place. Teach my child to behave like a jerk and there wouldn’t even be a discussion. I would have just told her “we’re done. Your two weeks start now.”

DC Metro Mom August 8, 2015 at 7:03 pm

In retrospect, I wish that I hadn’t waited as long to rematch. I truly wanted it to be me just being overly sensitive, if that makes sense. I wanted to believe that this could be turned around and everything would be fine.

My breaking point came when, while working from home one day, I saw the AP in a room on another side of the house from my daughter, who was left alone in a room (DD was two at the time). AP was making a phone call to someone. I told AP to put down the phone, and she said: “No, I am making a phone call.” I told her that this was not a request, to put down the phone and get back into the room with my daughter, that DD should not have been left alone. AP calmly looked up and said: “No, not right now, I am making a phone call.”

That was the end of that. There had been other issues up to that point, but that was the proverbial straw. I promised myself then and there that I was going to be more assertive of my rules every time there was a problem.

As if God was looking out for me, we then rematched with our rock star AP, who was just amazing! I got so spoiled with rock star. And she was just minutes from having to get her plane ticket home when we called her for her first interview. Rock Star did sometimes make suggestions, but it was always in private and always with my input. So, it all worked out in the end.

FirstTimeHM August 12, 2015 at 2:03 am

And guess who’s left yesterday without giving notice while we were away…
It turned out she had told the agency all kinds of lies about us and they confronted her with that, after that she cut off all communications with the agency and simply went.
The kids are hurt terribly and we are shocked. They think it’s due to them (absolutely not, they’re sweet well-behaved nice kids). I’ve managed to scramble for child care for this week and next, but after that there needs to be stability and I’m searching hi and low.
At the moment there are no rematch-candidates, so that’s not an option to tidy us over until we can find a permanent solution.
On one hand it’s a lot of stress gone from the house, but the kids will have 5 different people in the next 5 days and that’s not good for them either.

AlwaysHopeful HM August 12, 2015 at 10:40 pm

First time HM, I’m so sorry you had to go through this. What a nightmare. I’m sure you’re glad to be rid of her, but he logistics of finding immediate quality care can be daunting. And it’s never easy to explain it to the kids, but they do bounce back. Kids are great that way! :) Hang in there, and please keep us posted on how things work out.

BearCo Momma July 31, 2015 at 1:26 pm

Oh Wow ! This is a timely post for me ! I have been struggling with this all year.

Overall, our AP is stellar — she loves the kids, engages with them, is super active and isn’t afraid to get dirty with them, is very involved in our family, goes along with everything, has a sunny personality, helps clean-up after dinner, etc. A few somewhat serious issues have come-up here and there, mostly bad judgement calls I chalk up to inexperienced youth – but overall, we’re very happy from the childcare angle.

But just like the OP here, on a personal level, she’s connected well with DH but not really with me — partially because I have a long commute so am home the least, but I think more because they (DH and her) just are more similar than her and I are. They are both social, laid-back people who like to sit around chatting about mundane stuff with a beer and I tend to be more lost-in-my-own-thoughts and struggle to make small talk. I also tend to only connect well with people intellectually, and not emotionally, and this AP is more emotion-driven. Problem is, when I am home during the week, after the kids are in bed, I am running around trying to get everything ready for the next day – laundry, school lunches, opening mail, paying bills, etc. , – and they’ll often be just hanging out together in the kitchen/on the deck, and I hate to say it – but it bothers me. It also doesn’t help that several people (friends, family members) have commented on this dynamic (“Wow, seems like your latest AP and DH are pretty close! Does that bother you?” ugh.)

To be clear – I 100% don’t worry about anything ‘like that’ happening, I think DH just enjoys having someone to hang out and chat with at night (our past APs and AP-aged niece who has stayed with us connected better with me – so this is new) , but to me it still feels inappropriate and I resent that it feels like she spends more 1-on-1 time with him than I do. And even when the kids are there , and I come home to everyone having a blast with this person who lives in my house who everyone is close to except for me, it makes me feel almost like an outsider in my own family. It’s tough!!

We’ve had to talk a lot about it (which makes me feel like a nagging jealous shrew and I really am not – or at least – never was before!), and I think he sees where I’m coming from and it’s gotten better lately. We are even considering switching agencies to go with a male AP next year, this way if he and the AP end up being ‘besties’ again, I will not be so upset by it!

Mimi July 31, 2015 at 1:54 pm

I have the same issue with the mister hanging out to be social while I’m running around doing my mom job and it aggravates me also. He’s said many times that he doesn’t want to pass up the opportunity to maintain that social connection with our APs and I do agree that is can make a big difference in the kind of relationship you have, but I point out to him (repeatedly because he likes reminders and reinforcement…) that if he helps with with XYZ, then we can both have the social time.

TexasHM July 31, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Bearco you just made me think of another factor – personality types! We recently switched to CCAP and I realized that our last 2 successful APs and myself all have the same personality profile. It makes me want to get the first two to take it so I can compare theirs and the one failed match we had I am almost positive was my anti-profile (personality type most likely to make me crazy and not click with). I wonder if that plays into this situation too. (This is the DISC profiling sorry should have clarified that earlier)

It doesn’t mean it can’t work, in fact the reason the test tells you what your anti profile is to help you recognize that weakness and manage those relationships in your workplace/life. Not saying you should drop everything and make her take the test but something to think about – her personality and your hubs might just naturally be more compatible. My hubs often jokes that he’s “that guy” living in the house and that the APs don’t talk to him that much. I remind him that his love language is physical touch anyway and to count his blessings! ;).

There’s another angle! Love languages. My current AP is physical touch so I mindfully give her a hug or pat on the back with praise. She lights up like the Fourth of July. Previous AP was words of affirmation (me too) which made that easy. If you or hubs know her love language you could try to build a bridge that way too.

HRHM August 1, 2015 at 8:28 am

No offense, but it seems like, to me, your DH is the problem in this scenario. If you are running around, paying bills, doing laundry, packing lunches, he should be doing some of that with you. No such thing as a ‘Mom job” only a “parent job”. Then, you’d both get done quicker and could BOTH hang out on the deck with the AP and a beer. There’s no way they should be having a happy hour while you work your butt off. Just my 2 cents

Returning HM August 1, 2015 at 11:36 am

Yup – I would last in that scenario about 3 minutes, one of which would be spent doing the tasks until I realized and the other two would be spent undoing them so I could be sure to leave the full cadre of prep for the AP and DH. I would then grab a beer and go join them, telling them when I got there that we can all share in the prep for morning when we’re done with the beer, or I would take my computer upstairs and go catch up on Facebook, leaving them a note reminding them to prep the morning when they were done.

The one time DH took an AP off with him after dinner to go watch a football game on TV, I went in, paused the game, and told them that we could all be done with the prep three times as quickly if they joined me doing it now. Otherwise they were going to have to split it between the two of them, and they could decide whether to do it before or after watching the football game. There is zero chance that I will be the little female cliche working in the kitchen while the two adult guys in the household go watch football or hang out on the porch outside!

Aupairing in Deutschland August 5, 2015 at 9:09 am

For me, it is absolutely reasonable to expect some help from your husband. But why the Aupair? I’m assuming here that this is her free time (no way I can relax and have a beer while I’m on duty). It would be pretty unfair to be demanded to work extra just because HM feels quite jealous!

momo4 August 1, 2015 at 2:37 pm

As usual, I agree completely with HRHM.

exaupair August 2, 2015 at 4:52 am

Why on earth do you let your husband hang out with the AP while you are running around the house doing chores and prepare for the next day?!? I would have a serious conversation with my husband if I were you.

BearCo Momma August 3, 2015 at 8:46 am

My issue has absolutely ZERO to do with me doing stuff while he relaxes. He works hard and long hours, does MORE than his fair share around the house and with the kids and he needs his downtime, too. If he was watching TV, or hanging out with our neighbors next door or out with friends , I would think nothing of it.

The only reason I would want his “help” with the chores I choose – and prefer – to do myself would be to keep the 1-on-1 socializing from occurring and that would feel manipulative/passive-aggressive and would not be a very “me” thing to do. I just don’t like when that downtime is spent bonding 1-on-1 with the AP, who is all smiles and chatty with him but somewhat cold with me (I have no doubt that could be my fault too, but that’s how it is).

Anyway, as I said above — we have already talked A LOT about it and it has gotten better.

TexasHM — I have been meaning to spend some time understanding the DISC profile for our next round of matching so I can hopefully use it to find a better personality match for me!

JuJu July 31, 2015 at 6:59 pm

If you really want to improve the relationship and you have a little time I recommend the doing something together. For example:

Take her shopping. Not necessarly to buy her things but, to spend some time together. Getting to know her and her style and taste.

Find a tv show you like watching and watch it together every week. This gives you time together and something to talk about.

Go to a yoga class together.

AuPair Paris August 1, 2015 at 5:53 pm

Could be any number of things! Maybe you’re more intimidating (just a more brusque/less jokey attitude?), or she struggles with your accent (or senses that you struggle with hers?), or she has good relationships with male authority figures, and not with female, or she comes from a patriarchal background and is used to men as bosses, or as someone said above, perhaps she is projecting her familial relationships onto your family. Or maybe she just clicks with your husband – and less so with you. My point is, you can’t know without asking, and I don’t think it would be worth it to ask – it seems to create a drama of something fairly subtle.

One thing – I understand that you want to hang out with your kids when you get back, but if this relationship is really something you wanted to improve, you could show interest in your AP without neglecting your children. Everyone’s different, and I’m in France, where children are expected to behave like mini-adults at the table – they must not interrupt, they join in the conversation as adults, and they listen as well as talk. Of course they don’t always manage this, and when they (particularly toddlers, or pre-schoolers) interrupt or get overexcited the response is usually a calm “Auntie Sarah is talking right now. Don’t interrupt. Just wait two seconds.”

This tactic is not for everyone and some may find it repressive, but I’m used to it, and would now find it quite difficult to be in a family who totally ignored me at dinner, because the kids were talking. Not that I’m saying you do that – but if the AP is from that kind of family, it might seem like that. I don’t speak much if I’m not spoken to first. I say hello, ask about my HP’s days, and commiserate with work stress, but outside of that, I don’t have a great deal of French small talk, so I can’t *start* a mundane dinner conversation. I speak fluently – but only to communicate what I want to say, not to expertly lubricate an awkward social situation. So the impetus *is* on you to start the dinner conversation.

Again – all of this is *only* if it’s something you really want to focus on. If you don’t, you’ll have a less close relationship with your au pair, which is fine. She’s not a hired friend after all. And you *don’t* have to make an effort to fix this – I don’t think it’s a big deal. But if you think it’s a problem, those are some suggestions. After all, no au pair is going to totally change her behaviour and attitude because of his or her host mum stewing in silence…

exaupair August 2, 2015 at 5:07 am

Not sure if anyone mentioned that before, but it’s normal for people to connect better with some and worse or not at all with others. Every now and then we ‘dislike’ someone without even getting to know them first and it is likely to stay that way because there is this vibe that stops us from warming up to them.
OP maybe instead of going out of your way to befriend the AP, wouldn’t it be easier to just accept the fact that she is not that fond of you. If she’s good with the children, responsible, kind young person doesn’t it make her ‘good enough’?
You can invite her to do something with you, maybe it will work and she will open up a bit, but if not then either try to be positive and only focus on how she looks after the kids, or let her go.

NewbieHM August 2, 2015 at 7:51 pm

The way I see it, when you open your home and your heart to an AP it should be a positive experience as a whole. Living for a year with a person that gives you the cold shoulder but treats everyone else nicely is definitely not a good experience. You don’t have to live a year or even month like that, even if she is good with the kids. In fact, I suggest you don’t.

I would give two good tries to bond with her. Whether is going for an ice cream with her or a nice walk, and see what happens. After that, the ball is in her court. If I’m not satisfied with the results I would go to the LLC. I would explain the situation to her and tell her that perhaps we are not a good fit, which is disrupting our home environment and that I’m seriously looking into rematch. The LLC will most likely talk to her and tell her how her attitude is taking her into a rematch situation and hopefully this will be enough to change her attitude. After all, APs go into rematch all the time when they feel they are not a good match, don’t they?

I don’t expect everyone to like me, but I’m sure not going to house someone for a year who doesn’t.
If this was in an office setting I couldn’t care less if an employee liked me or not as long as she was performing well on her job. But in my home things are different. Her mommy or daddy issues are irrelevant to me. In my house anyone who lives here has to like me, my husband and my kids. Or at the very least she can’t act like she doesn’t. I just couldn’t be happy in that kind of environment.

Taking a Computer Lunch August 3, 2015 at 6:35 pm

My recommendation is that you – and not your husband – make the first step. If your career requires that you spend long hours away from home and your husband is more readily available, she is going to necessarily develop a stronger bond with him. It’s not clear to me whether or not the AP is passing off the children to you or whether she has already passed them off to your husband – but if you reject her opportunity to have a conversation with you because you need and want to reconnect with your children, then she is going to feel rejected. It’s okay after quick hugs to have the 5-minute transition conversation – ‘What was the best thing that happened today?’ ‘Did you go anywhere special?’ ‘Do you have plans for this evening or are you joining us for dinner?’

As for dinner conversation, I agree with AuPair Paris – it is never too early to teach your children about the interplay that discussion requires. Taking turns will help them learn to be better conversationalists and will give your AP an opportunity to improve her English and feel more like part of the family.

Finally, express gratitude. Whenever I have to work long hours, I thank my AP and let her know that she makes my life easier and I appreciate the hard work she does to care for my children. A ‘thank you’ goes a long way. For APs who go above and beyond, I purchase little gifts (and for those who go way above and beyond – bigger ones.)

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