I want to dedicate this entry to my area’s newest member, Maryke, coming to her American family this week all the way from South Africa! Welcome, Maryke! I would also like to reference a cleverly-written article which inspired me to write my own piece. Please go and read Summer Blackhurst’s article: Embracing Raising Children in a New Culture
While I do agree that au pairs may be shocked or offended by the behavior of some American children who will yell, throw tantrums and give ultimatums, I must disagree that it is all about a sense of belonging. Sometimes it needs to be about obedience and respect. Maybe I am old-school, but I do not think my six year old yells or has a fit because she is not sure she is capable or has a definitive place in our family. On the contrary, if she behaves in that way, I can tell she is tired, hungry or was just told no in response to a request. The solution to this is not to yell and scream back at her, but to let her know that is not acceptable behavior and that good words and actions will be more likely to get what she wants. There are times when she cannot have what she wants, but calm words and alternate choices can serve to diffuse the situation.
I can completely relate to the reference Summer makes to fellow-blogger Lynette Shepard’s “spirited” children. I can recall my pastor’s wife calling my eldest daughter strong-willed, and it was not necessarily a compliment. While strong wills are admired and even required in some situations our children face, I must insist on some level of respect and obedience from my children, whether I am in charge or a sitter or teacher or other adult. This is not to say I expect my kids to be perfect, but even my four year old knows right from wrong and should not be allowed to continue uninterrupted in bad behavior.
Talk to your American Host Family to find out what works and what does not work for them. You may have some new and interesting ideas to try. I agree with Summer’s assertion that two minds are better than one when it comes to childcare solutions. Please contact me, Joan Lowell, your Go Au Pair representative in the RI, CT and MA area. Call or text me at 401.309.1925 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.