Welcome back to another conversation about open and honest communication. Please take note! This is one of the topics I spend quite a bit of time discussing, even in my monthly conversations with Host Families and Au Pairs. Go Au Pair wants to ensure, or at least facilitate successful Host Family-Au Pair relationships. Your au pair came to America to be a part of your family and care for your children. My colleague, Summer Blackhurst thinks this topic bears repeating. Please read her article too: Keeping the Au Pair on the Same Page to Avoid Conflict
Summer tells her readers to abide by the weekly meeting rule we discussed at Orientation, but I have to totally agree when she says keep the lines of communication open at all times. Keep in mind your au pair wants to please you and may need to be told or showed how you would like him or her to do certain things. I also agree, and must repeat, use all means necessary to keep the lines of communication open, daily if needed. I tell families and au pairs to be careful with the timing of bringing up issues, like right when the parent walks through the door after work may not be a great time. But if issues cannot wait, as in a safety concern or any issue with illness or with a baby, discussions may happen daily, especially at first.
Let me say, though, that it is important to pick your battles. There is no need for the au pair to do everything the exact way you would do it. That is like saying dad will do everything the same as mom; it’s just not reasonable. An important and worthy issue to bring up or correct right away might be something like the way the au pair gives the baby his bottle or burps him, because if done poorly, may result in a fussy baby. A non-important issue unworthy of correction is how your au pair folds the child’s laundry. As long as the clothes are clean and get put in the baby’s bureau, does it really matter if the shirts are folded over two or three times? Probably not, but if your au pair leaves the bathroom a cyclone after a shower, a simple conversation can correct it without hurt feelings.
Summer is wise to suggest it and I fully concur that Host Families suck it up, get brave, and face each issue with an open mind and heart. Some discussions may be uncomfortable, but remember, you and your au pair chose each other, so work with each other to get the most out of your cultural childcare experience. Please contact me, Joan Lowell, your Go Au Pair representative in Rhode Island, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 401.309.1925. Register online to become a Host Family with Go Au Pair in your area.