Most of the time when I get an email for us at AuPairMom, I do my best to hold back. I usually want to let you all take charge of an issue, so I restrain myself from sharing my opinion first.
But in this case …. well, you can tell from the post title, can’t you?
Here’s the email:
Our au pair moved in with us on Friday. Saturday night my husband invited her to a movie and left me and our child at home.
I told him that it upset me and I thought it was inappropriate for him to take her out and leave me at home. His response was that we are supposed to make her feel like part of the family.
She doesn’t have a license and can’t get around on her own.
I told him that it was unfair for him to expect me to let him take her out and leave me at home and that I was not okay with it.
He thinks I am being ridiculous and feels I shouldn’t have a problem with it and he plans to continue to do it.
If I was the au pair I would know that it is inappropriate but she seemed willing to go along with him with no problems.
I am 7 months pregnant and just want to make sure I am not overreacting and wanted someone else’s opinion on the issue. Thanks!
Mom, you’re right, he’s wrong, and this is a problem.
Let me first mention that probably the only place I disagree with you is in your expectations of your new au pair– if I were her, whether I thought it appropriate or not, I might feel unable to bring it up as an issue. She’s been with you for such a short time, she probably is still trying to figure things out for herself. Who knows, maybe she’s concerned about it or felt awkward too?
You and your spouse need to have a heart-to-heart now –
about how having an au pair (or any other adult participating in your family) should influence the relationship between the two of you, or for that matter between your and your child(ren).
Here are some “absolutes”:
- One host parent’s relationship with an au pair should *never* take precedence over the host parents relationship with each other.
- No au pair should be used as an adult confidant- or friend-substitute in place of the other host parent.
- No host parent should prioritize the au pair (or any other adult) over the other host parent.
- No host parent’s issues with the other host parent should be shared with the au pair.
These are all corollaries of one standard principle of a good marriage:
No one should come between you and your partner.
Your spouse should not take the au pair out without you, especially not to an activity or an event that is remotely like a date. Not even remotely. This decision was clueless at best. And that’s a generous interpretation.
He is insensitive, if not cruel to you, to assume that he can do this in spite of it upsetting you. Who cares whether or not it seems ‘ridiculous’ to him’? No respectful husband or partner would do something that upsets his/her spouse in spite of her explicit request that this not be done.
In the future, your spouse should not invite the au pair to do something even remotely date-like, ever, without your explicit agreement (and the au pair’s agreement). Even taking her to church without you might be inappropriate. It’s not the place, it’s doing it in spite of your objections and discomfort.
[Just to be clear: the issue is not whether or not the HD and AP should do things together, but whether they should do things together if the HM explicitly says she objects. In this case, the HM has clearly expressed her feelings and her concerns, and these are being ignored by the HD.]
Whether your emotions are running high due to pregnancy, or to general concern over having an au pair, or welcoming a second child, is immaterial here.
If this is a small thing, and it turns out you were ‘overreacting’, treat this as an invitation for you and your spouse to have a quiet conversation, outside of the house and away from child and au pair, to talk about how your relationship should be treated and valued.
If this is a symptom of a larger issue, get good counsel now.
Whether it turns out that this is a big thing or a little thing, it is not about having an au pair.
It is about having a strong marriage.
Everything you do now to strengthen your marriage will make any of these other challenges easier to manage.
Other host parents? Forgive me for taking the lead, and chime in, please!
LA: Buds and Blooms Stand Down from cobalt123 on Flickr