Au Pair Conversations

Dealing with conflict with your Host Family

Today we are talking about conflict and how different people respond to conflict. It is easy to be caught up in the moment and to just want to pack up your stuff and leave but remember to try think about it logically and through someone else’s eyes and see that you are a stranger living in their house which can be pretty scary if you ask me. This is a story time of one Au Pair that I know. She’s amazing and dealt with this in a very mature fashion. Let us know your thoughts below.

I have been an Au Pair in America for almost 5 months. I live with and work for a family in New York and since I arrived last year November I have really enjoyed working for my host family. They have been super welcoming and really accepting. They have done everything they can to make me feel at home and even before I came to America I knew that I would fit in perfectly with their family. We spoke for about 2-3 months before my arrival and we got along from the start. We always had so much in common. The day my host dad picked me up at the orientation and I came to their house they decorated my room with pictures of me and my family; my cat and a book from my favourite author. The kids made “Welcome to the USA” signs for my door and I just immediately felt at home. I was an Au Pair in The Netherlands in 2011 and I never received such a warm welcome when I arrived there. So this was just so heart-warming and an amazing feeling.

My host dad and I immediately got along as I see him much more than my host mom. Although I have an amazing relationship with her too. I feel like I can always speak about anything with her. She is very understanding.

Unfortunately we sometimes get caught up in the idea of going to a new and exciting country and we are so excited about the adventure that we forget about some important factors and one of them are that we live where we work. This means that we are in each other’s company 24/7 and this can (as with your own family) sometimes get a bit much. Arguments are bound to happen and we need to remind ourselves that we live in another person / families home. It can sometimes feel like culture change doesn’t really exist seeing that we are all so excited in the beginning and still getting to know each other. And then when conflict steps in culture change can really become a big factor seeing that we all grew up different from each other, in different countries and situations and we all handle conflict and certain situations differently. Just like with everyone you encounter in your life – everyone has a story and a past. And every person has his/her reason for being the way they are.

I have had to deal with conflict with my host dad a few weeks ago. Him and I had an argument. It started with something very small but escalated pretty quickly. It ended where him and I were screaming at each other and I ended up in tears and just walking away. I felt that he approached the situation completely wrong and it could’ve been so much different. Now, don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t doing the right thing by screaming back at him either. But I guess that is what happens when you feel like you are being attacked and you just try to defend yourself.

Two days later my host mom, host dad and I had a meeting and we spoke about the incident and we all said how we felt. We then buried the hatchet. I am very happy and thankful that thereafter our relationship has been the same as before the argument and we get along just fine. I have always enjoyed having conversations with him because I feel that we can speak very easily. I have also in the meantime sat and reminded myself that he has a reason for dealing with certain situations the way that he does and I am the type of person that doesn’t hold a grudge but instead look at the reasons for why things happen.

To be honest when this happened I was extremely upset and for the first time in 4 months I felt so homesick. At that point I really wanted to contact my family back home because I felt that I need their support but I knew if I contact them it would only make me more homesick and it would make things much worse for me. Instead I phoned one of my best friends back home. The moment I saw his face and heard his voice I just burst out in tears. But after speaking to him for a while and getting his advice I felt much better. He reassured me and reminded me why I came to America in the first place and that was extremely helpful.

I also went to my friend (she is from my home country and lives very close to me) for the weekend. And if it wasn’t for her I would’ve probably packed my bags and went home. She made everything so much better just by being there and understanding. She really showed me what true friendship is.

After my host family and I had the meeting I called my family back home and I felt like I could tell them what happened without feeling like I wouldn’t want to be here anymore. My parents also reassured me and made me feel so much better.

I think the most important thing to remember is that you will have a lot of good days as an Au Pair but you will also have bad days. It is just so important to have a support system not only back home but in the country you are living. If it wasn’t for my friends here in America I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed my time here this much and I wouldn’t have known what to do in that situation.

If I can give you any advice – always put yourself in someone else’s shoes and try to understand why they react the way they do and also try to always stay professional. No matter how hard it can be. Also try to make as many friends as possible. You are not going to be an Au Pair forever and believe me it goes by so fast. It is in this time of your life that you make friends you will have for the rest of your life. I still have best friends that I met in The Netherlands. And I know the friends I have met (and will still meet) in America I will have for the rest of my life

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