“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt
As human beings we have a fundamental need to evaluate ourselves and our situations and the only way to really do that is in reference to something else. In fact there was a study done on this in the 1954 that actually proved it and coined the concept known as social comparison theory which changed social psychology forever. I’ll give you the Cliffsnotes version – it doesn’t do you any good to compare yourself and your situations to others and adding my two cents – if you are an AP it definitely doesn’t do you any good to compare your host family to another and most definitely doesn’t do you any good to then tell your host family all about it. Sigh. Thus the following email from a frustrated hostmom…
“Good Morning AuPairMoms!
My question is related to my Au Pair comparing my standards and her work duties to those of her friends’ host moms. We spoke with our current (our first) au pair a few times and emailed her our au pair handbook before she accepted us as her host family to be transparent and so she knew what she was signing up for. We have 2 kiddos 15 months apart and when she joined our family the youngest was just 3 months. Overall, she’s amazing and she is a rockstar with the kiddos.
I guess my most recent example has to do with the upcoming Memorial Day holiday. She would like to travel with one of her friends in the area that is also an au pair and asked if she could take off Memorial Day. My immediate response was “Of course! That’s plenty of notice, but that will count as a vacation day for you”. She looked at me like I had 3 heads and said “xxxx’s (a fore mentioned friend) host parents are just giving her that day off. So my response was that my husband and I would think about it and get back to her.
I guess my point is that I don’t know how to approach this for this specific situation or for the future. Our handbook vaguely covers her specific vacation time:
“You will be entitled to 14 days of paid vacation during your time with us: 10 days during the week and 4 weekend days. We do not mind whether you take these as a single vacation or several shorter periods. Please give us at least two weeks advance notice of when you would like to take time off, especially for longer trips. If you can give us more notice, even better! “
My concern is that we have a different family makeup and different needs from our au pair than her friends’ host family has. I just don’t want to be compared to them all the time.
So what can I do to work through this with her? I’ve thought of asking her to work an extra hour each day during the week to help us out. I’m just wondering if I’m being too strict or if this could potentially lead to her thinking she can have other holidays off in the future if her friend’s host mom does the same. And, on a grander and more important point, will I always be compared to the other host family? Help!
Constantly Compared Hostmom”
How should she (or should she) address these types of comments from her AP? Should she give a freebie holiday only because another family has done so? If she does, is it fair to add the hours back into the rest of the week? If she caves this time will it perpetuate future comparisons and requests for perk matching?
Source: Visit AuPairMom.com