As a Local Childcare Consultant with Cultural Care Au Pair, I have supported and provided cultural training for numerous host families who have welcomed an au pair into their home. Welcoming an au pair into your home is more than just affordable live-in childcare, a family is inviting a foreign national into their home and embracing the au pair as a family member. The au pair becomes a “big sister”, and a life-long friend, broadening and enriching the entire family’s world view.
When a new relationship is added to a family there will be a time of adjustment within the family dynamic. From time to time, I will hear a host mom comment to me, “My au pair has no common sense.” Everyone thinks that their culture is normal, and it is our culture that develops our “common sense.”
A host family has the home field advantage, where everything is familiar. Meanwhile, the au pair may be experiencing culture shock, where everything is unfamiliar (language, country & culture.) Lots of patient training is needed upfront to have a successful au pair & host family relationship. I recommend that host parents take some time to listen to their au pair, and to consider her point of view (her culture), be patient in training her in their family’s culture and the various ways the family want their children to be raised – be very specific.
Compared to most cultures, American culture is:
- More hectically paced (i.e. family dinners)
- More critical where safety is concerned
- More likely to let the kids run the show at home
- More likely to talk than to listen
Here are a few tips for host family in the matching process, looking for and interviewing potential au pairs for their family:
- What is your family looking for in an au pair?
- Someone who will keep to a rigid schedule or is more spontaneous?
- Someone who has a personality that is gregariously affectionate, close upon first meeting or more of a facilitator, who takes some time to get to know the family on a deeper level?
- Someone who can take the lead or is comfortable following the parent’s lead?
- Consider your own family’s culture (see the articles below for perspective)
- Thoroughly read through the au pair’s DISC personality profile. Think about the personality of the members of your family. What type of personality will blend in well with your family?
Here are several resources that i have found helpful to help me understand the various ways parents around the world raise their children. I hope these resources help you to gain perspective on cultural differences. If you are a family in the US and are interested in learning more about the au pair program, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 650-515-9713.
Saturday, 7 May 2016 10:51 AM