Beyond the Chauffeur: Benefits of Au Pairs when your kids are teens

by cv harquail on November 3, 2009

Au Pairs can be great companions and caregivers to older children…. and by older, I’m thinking teens.

gossip_girl400.jpgYeah, yeah, teens think they are old enough to do without childcare — they can be at home by themselves, cook their own meals, get their homework done, and walk around with earbuds blocking out the rest of the world — but they still need supervision. And, they still need someone to drive them around while parents are at work.

But what if we factor out the driving? What if we think of au pairs as doing more than chauffeuring?

Are there any other reasons to have an au pair for your teens?

Here’s what I can imagine:

An Au Pair for Teens can:

  • Be around the house in case of emergencies.
  • Be available to listen and talk so that your teens aren’t lonely.
  • Adjudicate sibling arguments.
  • Prevent your home from becoming the after-school special hangout.
  • Be a positive role model.
  • Tutor your teen, supervise homework & projects.
  • Partner in wholesome adventures (Teens can go to a library, or on a hike, right?)
  • Teach your child teen life skills (like cooking, folding laundry, grocery shopping)

It is hard for me to imagine having an au pair for older kids because I’m in denial that my babies are actually growing up. But, as I think ahead, I can see how we might prefer a live in au pair to an afternoon babysitter (especially for those times when both of us parents have overnight business trips).

So what do you think? Why might a family want an au pair for their teens?

(Host families with ‘big kid’ experience, we’d love to hear from you!!)

Next up: Choosing an Au Pair for Teens


Calif Mom November 3, 2009 at 3:39 pm

I like the idea of AP for teens, in theory. Cost is going to factor in eventually, though. And to think that we were all latch key kids…that phrase doesn’t even exist anymore, does it?

I do hope some moms of older kids weigh in here.

That picture scares the behoojies out of me! :-)

CV November 3, 2009 at 4:57 pm

HI CalifMom-
I *so* appreciate that you see the subtext of the illustration. :-)

TX Mom November 3, 2009 at 4:59 pm

ditto CalifMom on cost vs. benefit when it comes to an AP for teens.

At least, I feel a bit more prepared for parenting a teen after hosting younger AP’s. I have experience dealing with stupid mistakes that young people make (think of the CAR,) dealing with young romances, dealing with underage drinking, teaching basic life skills to a mini-adult (wake up on time, cooking, laundry, dealing with catty friends,) trying to find the RIGHT outfit in your budget, finding inexpensive birth control…

It is hard for me to remember how a young adult thinks so I now have plenty of reminders. (It’s more powerful than aunts and uncles reminding me of the things I did – like driving the car into Tijuana…)

Anonymous November 4, 2009 at 12:07 pm

I have young teenage boys. How would it be helpful to have a young woman just a little older than my boys supervising them in the afternoons ? And I am not sure where an aupair would come down in a difference of opinion that I have with my kids. And how would it be helpful to have a third party getting into the middle of a sibling argument. And what would prevent the aupair from having friends over . I am going to err on the side of caution and not get involved in this kind of arrangement. When I was younger, I would have said what a great idea. Not now.

Anon-y-mom November 4, 2009 at 2:44 pm

I think it depends on the age of your teens, their gender, their personalities.

This would have been wonderful for an idealized version of myself as a teenage girl; someone to drive me to band practice and teach me curse words in her native language, tell me to dump that one guy, etc. I could see an au pair being someone who had my interests at heart but was Not My Mother.

As a mom, I do think TxMom is right, you need someone who wouldn’t lead them into more trouble. Wholesomeness, responsibility, someone with some energy for fun adventures but an awareness of where the boundaries are.

And OMG that you have helped an AP find cheap birth control! certainly not my experience!

Eliza November 4, 2009 at 4:53 pm

I will be an au pair for young teens/pre teens, and hoping to be an ‘older sister’ figure. My main jobs will be organising them for school and driving to after school events, as well as taking interest in their lives. They are not old enough to stay home alone yet, cook for themselves, or arrange their own transport to events, so if the parents need to be at work, what better option than an au pair? I think it is beneficial for everyone involved, however if the children were much older children and more able to do their own thing, and the parents didn’t work, it probably would not be as beneficial nor necessary to have an au pair

Anonymous November 5, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Over the years, my aupairs have asked me directly and indirectly
how to help them get inexpensive birth control and I was always happy to direct them to a local clinic or planned parenthood.
One aupair of mine, a very ladylike young woman, asked me if I could lend her friend money for an abortion. I felt absolutely sure that it really was for the friend rather than my own aupair but I told
my own aupair that I do not believe in abortion and would not feel comfortable giving her friend the money. I know she was upset and the friend never came over again. I assume she got the money from someone else. I felt bad about this but this is a matter of principle for me.

SeaMom November 5, 2009 at 4:36 pm

My only child is a tween about to be a teenager any minute. I have struggled with these thoughts for the past year or two. When should I look at different childcare options vs. cost vs. transportation. I always come down to the transportation issue and being a latch key kid.
I want my child to be able to participate in anything she wants. I also need someone to help get the homework done and provide basic tutoring. Which is one reason I have stayed in the program. I don’t necessarily regard age as a criteria for the AP as long as they are mature! I have had problems with this in the last couple of years, and honestly having 2 teenagers (1 being the AP) lacking maturity in the house is not FUN! This year I focused on maturity in the interviewing process, tutoring ability, outgoing and friendliness, and driving ability. I feel I have succeeded at least this AP year.
Being an only child, I also look to the AP to be a positive role model and while not a chummy BFF at least someone to go talk to closer to her age about “school stuff.” My daughter has learned some of the differences having an older “sibling” in the house can raise like curfews, driving rules, drinking etc. All of these have worked in our favor with our past AP’s. Even to the point of observing the AP “in trouble” for breaking a rule. We don’t have many so these can be quite the conversation, and while our child is not a part of them she figures it out. It is almost like a precursor of things she can expect in a couple of years!
One of the biggest things our child talks about is how the AP needs to take care of “her” car, because it is just on loan to the AP. While not driving yet, she sees the day when she will be able to and wants it around. Being a positive role model at this point is top on my list!
Bottom line, we are at the point where we really only need companionship, safety, driving and a friend of the AP. This means they do not work 45 hours a week and I have to weigh all that with the cost effectiveness of the program. At this point having the AP wins,especially in regards to there is safety in numbers. I am seriously trying to find options for next year though, as we really only need after school and after many years of AP’s it would be nice to just be a “3 member family” again.

Allison February 1, 2010 at 5:59 am

I would be glad to be an Au Pair to teens/pre-teens of whichever gender. In fact, I think this is where I suit most appropriately having with limited childcare experience. I only garnered my 200 childcare hours recently by tutoring at a child learning centre and babysitting my newborn nephew. I have 8 years of driving experience, I can prepare simple meals, I’m responsible and I’m into sports like swimming, hiking, badminton, tennis, and also guitar playing (still picking up). I look forward for interests and language exchange i.e Japanese and German in cases the teens want somebody to practise with. I currently work in a dairy manufacturing company.

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