A few weeks ago I raised the question: How Have Au Pair Host Parents -As A Group- Changed Over Time? BeachTown HostMom wrote to pose the other side of the question –
(How) Have Au Pair expectations changed over time?
I’ve started to noticed some changes in the au pair community and wondered if you or others have noticed as well.
The situation: We’ve been a “successful” host family for many years now. We’ve had what is considered great matches with great au pairs. And for the most part we’ve been very happy. We’ve met some great young ladies. We’re been attempting to match with our newest au pair for the past couple months through one of the large Au Pair Agencies and I’m beginning to reconsider: …is any of the pain associated with hosting an au pair worth it?!?!
This is a surprising realization for me, since our family hasn’t had to deal with any major au pair issues. No car accidents, no rematches, no stealing….
Every year that passes the expectations of the au pairs I encounter seem to grow. They all seem to know someone who knows someone who got “x.” “X” gets bigger and more elaborate every year.
And I get it (and have seen it written on aupairmom before!) [cv note: this post from…2008: Host Family Advice: Resist the Amenities Arms Race].
Manage your au pair’s expectations. Yada yada yada.
I’m not sure if I can afford to pay more to keep up with au pair expectations.
We live in a beach town, au pair has a car, au pair has a private suite, only has to work weekday hours with a consistent schedule, etc… and yet… that appears to be too much for most young women I reach out to interview.
I’ve been told by multiple au pairs that they would not consider a family that did not live in NYC, Florida or California, three kids was too many, other families were paying more than the stipend, etc.
Entitlement, defn: the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.
All of this entitlement has put the spot light of some of the reasons I really dislike the program. I’ve had to “break in” every au pair to remind her that kids are hard work. Every single Au Pair has needed to be reminded that independent use of the car is a privilege and not a right.
I appreciate that there will be people that say this is a great way to weed out bad au pairs. Driving, weak English, culture shock, homesickness. None of these are the major issues frequently discussed by the large Au Pair Agency we’ve worked with …they are just normal issues associated with hosting an au pair.
Basically, I’m tired. I only have some much energy at the end of the day. I like the idea of the program, but I’m not sure anymore. Combine that with the complete lack of help from the agencies (our LCCs have been no help. The Agency matching coordinators have’t helped much either). And that’s a shame.
Our family is well suited for hosting au pairs, but we don’t want to be a part of a program anymore when the “me me me” attitude just seems to be growing.
Is anyone else noticing a growing sense of entitlement?
The au pairs we’ve had have been great, but it’s a lot of work for us to get everything to hang together. (It’s been tough for the au pairs too).
Combine this with how few decent applicants I’ve seen and I think the program is gong to squeeze out good host families.
I myself have just signed up for a local nanny agency and afterschool care.
Then the program will really only be left with all the bad host families that all of the au pairs seem to complain about.
Experienced Host Parents, what do you think? click for the poll
I just found this article at AuPairmom.com about todays AuPairs and their expectations and I want to discuss the subject from my perspective as my (Anja) AuPair year started 15 years ago (wow really???! that long ago)… Please do not be offended by anything I write – take it, think about it, and create your own pre- and post-AuPair thoughts.
I think there is something true about this perspective. Yes, my year started quite some time ago, Internet existed but you dialed-up, digital cameras did not exist, skype was unheard of, yes, emails started to come to play, and I actually learned to code HTML in a college course during my year. I was happy that my family provided me with a car that I was able to use outside of my work hours but I knew it was a privilege not a right. My host-family had one computer in the parents room that I was allowed to use when they did not need it or were in their room. There were no cellphones around the house, my kids had a Nintendo and I had a tiny TV in my room. It was great to be only about an hour and a half from NYC but I did not go there often because I was not allowed to drive that far but I also did not want to go there all the time. I used my vacation days in harmony with my host family and was available on weekends or evenings for babysitting if they needed me (though neither did happen very often). I was part of the family and participated.
Did I wear pink glasses when I first got to the US? I sure did but not in the extreme TV style that many of my friends and even more AuPairs today seem to wear…
On forums like http://forum.aifs.de/ and on Facebook I keep reading about AuPairs wanting a car, a TV, a Laptop/Computer, a cellphone, every weekend off, possibly even the 2 weeks vacation in one stretch, and much much more. And the location is becoming so important for many, too. You really think you can only have a great year in CA or in NYC???
The AuPair year is first of all not an exchange program but it is a work and study program. Work encompasses a lot with children and it can be very tiring. For the host family it is a very distinct way of receiving support with their children and it is not cheap either: Yes, you may only get your “pocket money” but they are also providing you with room and board, paying for car insurance and part of your college bills, and they are paying the agencies, too. On top most families offer you some amenities – but do not go to far in expecting everything you can think or dream of or heard other AuPairs talk about! Is the newest iPhone with a contract really worth it? Or should you look for a fitting personality type in your host family?
I can say that in retrospect I was glad that the first family who called me did not match with me – they lived close to NY with 2 girls, very intelligent and music oriented. I matched with my second family (there was no online account at that time, paper was send around by the agency, so only the families that actually called were known to me): 4 kids (3 girls, 1 boy), very active and very sportive, and down in NJ somewhere (it was hard to find information back then). I had the best year I could dream of – and as I said in retrospect my experiences fitted much better to MY host family than to the first one, though I was about to say yes on the phone…
So here is my challenge for you:
What are you actually looking for in a host family?
What are your absolute must haves?
What would be interesting to see and experience? If you want to travel do you really have to live in state X or in city Y???
Please feel free to post your thoughts to this topic in the comments!