Au Pair searches: Ten common misperceptions
While working at Au pair Australia, I’ve identified ten common misperceptions involved in Au pair searches in Australia. These are assumptions Australian parents make based on a set of expectations mistakenly applied to an Au pair search when looking for a nanny overseas. They are easily made because they are so common and frequently passed along. Perhaps you have heard them before. If so, don’t be so quick to buy into them as they can fool you into making a wrong decision. Here they are- the assumptions and the reality behind them.
1- The Smoke and Mirror Syndrome
“20 yrs experience with kids means 20 years of good experience with kids’’
The Assumption: if the au pair has cared for young children many times before becoming an Au pair Australia, she can certainly know what she’s doing.
The Reality: having Au pair experience isn’t a guarantee it has been informed, knowledgeable and relevant experience. Regardless of the quality of the resume, you must ask tough questions of every au pair candidate.
The ‘’Smoke and Mirror Syndrome’’ is fuelled by a pervading assumption that maternal instinct is universal. Women are born with the instinct to nurture and knowledge as to how to care for children. Not only does caring for children come naturally, but the ability to do it right comes naturally as well.
For au pairs who choose to do the work of caring for children and who have done it over time, it is not too far a leap to expect they have honed their craft to perfection. Why question what comes naturally and the practice- makes perfect model we hold we so dear?
Inevitably, the smoke clears. We recognize again and again that knowing how children develop and what skills are needed to properly care for them is neither instinctual nor universal. Perhaps we see children hitting someone else and the woman responsible for them pays no attention. Perhaps we see a toddler wandering around without supervision while the adult talks on her cell phone. These are the situations that shake our assumptions about maternal instinct. We are faced with reality often but we want to believe otherwise. We want the best for kids.
When Australian parents decide hiring a nanny or Au pair the maternal instinct assumption often prevails. Our wish that a nanny will be naturally nurturing and that her led to competence can be so strong that we can overlook the reality that her quality and skills may be less than adequate.