A Father's

Au Pairs

Dear MrDad:

What’s an au pair? Should I hire one to take care of my kid?

A: Au pairs are usually young women who come to the States on yearlong cultural exchange programs administered by the United States Information Agency (USIA). Legally, au pairs are nonresident aliens and are exempt from social security, Medicare, and unemployment taxes.

What an au pair provides is up to forty-five hours per week of live-in child care. In exchange, you pay a weekly stipend (currently around $155) as well as airfare, insurance, an educational stipend, program support, and full room and board. On average, having an au pair will set you back about $13,000 for the full year.

You can hire an au pair though one of only eight USIA-approved placement agencies. It can be a wonderful opportunity for you and your baby to learn about another culture. One drawback, however, is that they can stay only a year, then it’s au revoir to one, bonjour to another. It’s also important to remember that from the young woman’s perspective, being an au pair is a cultural thing. She may be far more interested in going to the mall with her new American friends or hanging out with your neighbor’s teen-age son than in taking care of your kid.

You can find out more about au pairs at exchanges.state.gov/education/jexchanges/private/aupair_brochure.htm#once

©2008, Armin Brott

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It's clear that most American children suffer too much mother and too little father. - Gloria Steinem

A nationally recognized parenting expert, Armin Brott is the author of Blueprint for Men's Health: A guide to a health lifestyle, The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be; The New Father: A Dad's Guide to the First Year, A Dad's Guide to the Toddler Years, Throwaway Dads, The Single Father: A Dad's Guide to Parenting without a Partner and Father for Life. He has written on parenting and fatherhood for the New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Newsweek and dozens of other periodicals. He also hosts “Positive Parenting”, a nationally distributed, weekly talk show, and lives with his family in Oakland, California. Visit Armin at www.mrdad.com

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