Friday, 21 October 2011

Household Help

For many Expats - parents, professionals, teens and children alike -  learning how to live with household help in areas where it is considered the norm is another aspect of change to get used to when living a transient global life. Should the helper live in or live outside of the family home? Should the helper eat with the family or not? What are the boundaries, what are the roles, what are the ‘rules’ and the ‘norms’?? These questions and challenges are very common for the first time Expat or the Expat exposed to household help for the first time. How does one learn how to live with an unknown person from a different country with different cultural, religious,  and social background? The role between helper and children is also undefined. Many Expats are heard questioning, should I leave my baby, toddler, youngster, adolescent with my helper? Will she know what to do? Can she handle an emergency? Can she make a ‘right’ decision when there is a problem? Will she discipline my kids? What happens when I am not at home? When I am not looking? There are a host of ‘horror’ stories about things going wrong or being unexpected with Expats and household help, but, there are also, probably more success stories. Many Expats are able to resume careers, develop new skills, spend more quality time with their children, their partners and their friends as a result of having household help. Employing someone to live and work in your home is recognized as a norm in many countries and recognized as a foreign thing to do in others. In many parts of the developing world employing household help can be an expectation in  creating much needed employment and providing opportunities for individuals to have access to a different life, earn an income and become more independent.

Adapting to household help must be as challenging as learning to live without those who help in the household when you move from a country from where it is the norm to a country where it is  not an option. It’s interesting to ‘flip’ the table and look at something from another perspective. I only realised this when sitting with a group of Expats who had lived with household helpers their entire lives and only when they moved to the USA midway through their careers as established ‘independent’ adults did these individuals realise they really had to learn how to do laundry, how to cook, how to take care of and run a household.
Expat Teens have to make that adjustment as well, though their perception is not usually elicited…until now. “Expat Teens Talk” is a new resource that identifies some similar issues that Expat Teens are dealing with and their perceptions about those issues, along with feedback from their fellow Expat Peers, as well as from Expat Parents and Expat Professionals. Stay tuned for more information. In the meantime TALK to us and let us know what’s on your mind…

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