Au Pair in America was happy to welcome more than 600 au pairs from around the world in July and August.
It’s a wonder that so many matches are successful given the challenges of cultural differences and a difficult adjustment that many au pairs experience. It’s important to remember several points during the initial stages of a match:
1. It often takes 6-8 weeks to get to know each other and to feel comfortable with new routines. Patience is key as is resisting the urge to label a new au pair negatively because she can’t “hit the road running.”
2. First impressions have nothing to do with what you get! An au pair can arrive “shell-shocked” and unable to function. This is not necessarily an indication that she won’t be a good au pair or that she “doesn’t know a thing about childcare,” or that “she’s lazy.” It may just mean she’s suffering culture shock and needs some time and a lot of support to ride the wave through it.
3. Always assume that the other party has good intentions and be willing to listen to the other’s point-of-view. Nothing good can come of jumping to conclusions such as those mentioned above.
4. When an au pair (or the host family) does something that seems completely alien, ask yourself, “could this behavior be related to a different value system? Is this a cultural difference?
5. And then, call your community counselor! Your counselor is there for both the au pair and the host family. She is the expert in mediating differences and helping each party understand what is happening.
6. A successful match does not often happen overnight, and even if it is seemingly “GREAT,” there are bound to be ups and downs, times of struggle, and times of thinking, “rematch.” However, always take the first step to better understanding: talk, talk, talk!!
And enjoy each other!