For many au pairs, feeling intimidated by their host parents can be a common hurdle that must be jumped. According to Webster’s dictionary, the literal definition of the word intimidation is: to make fearful as to coerce. The implication is that someone must do this to you. If that is the case, why do we feel intimidated? And why is it such a common experience?
The truth is, we choose to feel fearful. Feelings of fear may be attached to many factors, including living with a new family, navigating a new society, being away from home (for many) for the first time, and learning the everyday requirements of a new job, new car, new appliances, new rules and expectations, etc, etc, etc, WHEW! It is no wonder there is some fear on the part of the au pair. So how do we NOT fall into the trap of feeling intimidated?
In my humble opinion, this is a necessary process for most every au pair. The only way to get through it is to GO THROUGH IT! Normalizing this experience and giving yourself permission to not have to know all the answers definitely makes the process easier. Trust that as you feel more competent, you will feel less fearful and intimidated.
Ask questions and clarify directions. This will help you identify what is most important and let go of what is not. Commit to being an excellent communicator in spite of your intimidation level. This will help you understand the needs of the host family, get important feedback, and create a sense of confidence in the job you are doing. As time goes by you will inevitably feel less intimidated and more self assured.
Lisa Bravo, MC, LPC, LISAC, NCC
Cultural Care Au Pair Program Counselor