For Americans, and I dare say, for people from most every Western Country, we really are not used to having full time maids, or for that matter, we are not used to having maids at all.
Maybe 50 years ago, having a maid in the house was a little more common than it is today, although even at that time it was somewhat rare. When I was young, and still living with my parents, I remember one time when we had a maid. It was a time when my mother was sick, she had recently undergone some rather serious surgery, and because she was still recovering, my Dad arranged for a maid to come in around 3 days per week or so, to help keep up with the household chores. But, that only lasted for a month or two, then it was back to normal.
Because of the fact that most of us expats really have little experience in dealing with a maid, I believe we are not very good at it. I know that I had to learn a lot about having a maid when we moved here, and it took me a few years.
One thing that I hear from a lot of expats, especially newly arrived expats, when they talk about their maid is this:
“We treat her just like a member of the family…”
Well, my friends, that can be a bit of a problem. Why? Well, she really is not part of the family.
When we moved here, I also really believed in that too. Treat her just like we treat the family! But, I’ve learned a lot since then.
Some of the things that I hear from other expats is that they take the maid out with them when they go out and eat at a restaurant. They take her to the mall for a nice day. They take her to the movies. I know one expat who has his maid give him massages (this particular one, I feel is very dangerous and could lead to charges of him making sexual advances toward her). Sure, many of these are things that you wouldn’t think twice about doing with the family (not the massage, perhaps).
But, it’s important to remember… she is the maid, she is not family.
When we moved here, we did a lot of this kind of thing with the maid too. Over the years, though, I have had several experiences where we treated the maid as family, and over time the maid came to feel herself that she was family. She didn’t want to do the duties of a maid, because she was already family, after all!
Let me put it like this… in general, treating a maid as family just doesn’t tend to work.
Now, don’t take me wrong, I do not believe in mis-treating a maid. I believe that a maid should be treated in a humane way, in a friendly way, with respect, and certainly not as a slave. In our family, with maids, we still do treat them better than most local people do. As an example, we usually pay a bit more than the local average wages for a maid. In addition, for a live in maid, we also pay for her personal needs, things like deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, that kind of thing. Most local people do not pay for this stuff, it comes from the maid’s salary.
We treat our maids in a friendly way too. We are kind to them. We feed them well. But, they don’t get the same things that family gets. I am sorry, but from what I have experienced, this is how it should be.
But, why, Bob? Why shouldn’t I treat my maid just the same way I would treat a daughter?
Well, my experience is that if you do that, she will come to expect more and more. She will also lose some respect for you as well. Why? I don’t know, but I do know that I have seen it happen many times.
So, my advice to you is that if you want to have a maid in your home, treat her well. Pay her fairly. Be nice to her. Give her adequate food. But, remember… she is not family.