Male Au Pairs: Everything You Wanted To Know about BroPairs

by cv harquail on June 30, 2016

Male au pairs are revolutionaries, and so are the families that host them.

I love the ways that male au pairs and families that host them are pushing American stereotypes about masculinity and childcare.

I love that male au pair7301106978_3cacbc0379_ms help us see different ways that our kids can connect to adults.

I love that male au pairs give us a differently-gendered window into our culture and others.

This is all kind of funny, though, since I know absolutely zero male au pairs.  They are an abstract concept to me– a positive one, but an abstract one.

When Host Parents write with questions about male au pairs, I don’t have a deep well of second-hand information either.  So, families that have hosted male au pairs, and you handful of male au pairs who read AuPairMom, come answer this Host Mom’s questions:

If you have a bropair, what do you wish you’d known about hosting a bropair before he came?

If you are a bropair, what do you wish your host family knew?

See also:

Male Au Pairs, Revolutionaries and Change Agents
Male Au Pairs: When would you hire one? (Poll)
Male Au Pairs: Not just for male host kids, by ReturningHM

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Returning HM June 30, 2016 at 11:38 am

We will welcome our fifth male AP in August. We switched to males after six years of hosting female APs. We have a 14 year old DD and an 11 (developmentally 9) year old DS.

I wish we had known how much easier it is for our family to host male APs than it was to host female APs. I wish we had known how much our DD would love having a “big brother” around and not have shied away from hosting males earlier out of fears that male APs were suited only for male host children. I wish we had known how much our son would thrive having an older guy around to play with – and how much our male APs would push him in his play….with Legos, with the trampoline, with scooters, with ball sports. And I wish I had known that we would not be sacrificing anything in terms of love and affection towards the children, connection with us host parents, or household help by hosting a male AP.

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EVC July 1, 2016 at 2:47 am

Thank you Returning HM for your heart warming support of us (former) male au pairs. It means a lot.

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Should be working July 1, 2016 at 10:26 am

I also must say how pleased I have been at our teen daughter’s bond with the male AP. It has been great for her to have a warm, clear-boundary friendly relationship with a young man who is an all-around good guy. I think she is proud of having the male AP, and I was worried she would feel like it’s too “weird”.

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Late to the office July 14, 2016 at 4:05 pm

THis has been my biggest fear with going with a BP. How old is your DD? I have a DD15 and 2 boys 8 and 3. I would love to have our next AP be a BP! I see so many positives reasons- my DH doesn’t agree- he is mostly threatened my a young guy in the house. which is silly being that we have young girls living with us!
I am not sure how having a 16 yr old and a young guy in the house will fair. But then again at some point I will have teenage boys lol!

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EVC July 18, 2016 at 1:37 pm

Hi Late to the Office,

You can deal with a lot of this as you select a candidate for matching. I was admittedly on the older side when I entered the au pair program (23), but it mostly comes down to knowing whether the au pair can deal with situations with maturity. I would definitely not have been interested in someone of 16, so it comes down to how to deal with an uninvited and unwanted crush. That could be from your daughter, or one of her friends. Providing you find someone who can kindly, and gently let a young girl down it should not be an issue. I also would suggest that having a reporting system in place so that a male au pair could openly come to you and say; x person made a pass at me, or is flirting with me even after I have politely and gently told her it is not appropriate. That way you avoid anything, even something innocent, turning into a game of telephone.
I would also suggest that maybe the fear of a teen daughter crushing on an au pair might be overblown, or may very much depend on the teenager in question. I however do not have teenage daughters, so I will leave that to the judgement of individual parents.

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Former AP Now HM July 19, 2016 at 11:27 am

Honestly, I think this fear is a bit overblown.

A teenager (girl or boy) may well end up with a crush on their au pair. I’ve certainly had boys in my care trying to flirt with me. The reality is that the au pair probably has no interest, and that after a month or two the crush will settle into more of a sibling relationship.

For what it’s worth, I was a teenager growing up in a house with a revolving door of attractive young men (we hosted foreign students). I had crushes on some of them, flirted outrageously with some of them, and received absolutely no encouragement from any of them. It helped me learn how to navigate relationships with unrelated males and (eventually) that not every attractive young man was worth my time.

My parents never worried about my brothers when hosting young female students, so I see no reason why they should have worried about me when hosting males.

I will add, in the interests of full disclosure, that the age of consent here is 14 and that I was in a happy, physical relationship when I was 15, so I can see why more conservative host parents from countries with higher ages of consent might be more wary than my parents were.

To come back to the original question, I’m not picky about sex or gender. I look for the best au pair for my family, and if that person (multilingual, active, busy, reliable, solid reasons for wanting to au pair, doesn’t mind moving house regularly, bright, full of ideas for my children that don’t involve plonking them in front of a screen…) is a boy then I’m just as happy as I am if it ends up being a girl. I do admit though that we’re spoilt by our location – another poster mentioned not wanting their bro-pair to have to take their daughter to a public loo, which isn’t an issue for us because fathers commonly take their children to the loo here. I’m not worried about her seeing anything inappropriate.

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Mimi June 30, 2016 at 5:45 pm

I have never been able to talk HD into a bropair. It’s disappointing for me because I have three boys and think they would do well with another male role model around (especially at their ages 12/7/7) but I think that HD feels threatened by the thought of it. His excuse has been that women are better at managing our busy HH, but my kids are so well trained and the HH well structured enough that I think a guy could handle it. We’ll be looking for our next AP soon so I’ll bring it up again and see how that goes…

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EVC July 1, 2016 at 2:15 am

Mimi,

Something that may help you is talking about the (generally) much higher experienced level many male au pairs have. Take a look at my full post below to get an idea of what I mean

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momo4 July 1, 2016 at 12:12 pm

Considering the number of highly accomplished male managers of complex projects in businesses throughout the world, I find his excuse rather flimsy :)

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EVC July 1, 2016 at 2:46 am

As a former male au pair, who had to deal with my fair share of people not understanding a male as a caregiver it is nice to this topic getting some airtime.

There is, as we all know, a lot of ingrained skepticism and sexism when it comes to male au pairs. As a man I had never experienced sexism until trying to become an au pair, so it was a rather eye opening experience for me. The agencies that said they did not take males (apparently none of their families wanted men), to the odd questions in interviews that were basically, we want to make sure you are not a pervert, to the looks and muttering from SAHMs at the park or picking up kids from school, all of it said “this is not your place”, which is an attitude one would hope we were passed. Clearly there is still more work to be done though. it was definitely an odd experience to go through from that perspective. However, someone has to break the mold and show that it is perfectly reasonable for me to want to be caregivers and be excellent at it. No one suggests that it is weird for a man to lovingly care for their children, or a beloved uncle to chase his Nieces and Nephews around the yard, but as soon as we are paying someone to do those things, suddenly things get weird.

Now, is a male au pair the best choice for everyone? No. One of the funniest comments on my rematch information (host family issue, not me) from my first host family, was “eats an awful lot”. It is a silly thing, but of course there are differences between hosting a male and a female, the quantity of food consumed being relatively minor. You should always be picking an au pair that is best for your family. That goes without saying. You should also be picking an au pair who really understands what it is they are getting themselves into, and is well prepared to do the job well, and frankly, that is where a lot of male au pairs can really shine.

Male au pairs, from the ones I met in training, to people I have stumbled across in life and hear about on this forum, by and large, have much more experience than their female counterparts. So many of the female au pairs I met had an attitude, of “well I have done some baby sitting and helped with my younger siblings, so how hard can it be?” There is a definite bias both in self perception and external perception, that woman are “natural caregivers”, or “more nurturing”, so a lot of female au pairs just assume they will be able to do the job. With every male au pair I have met, they thought long and hard about becoming an au pair, and in most cases, had significant childcare experience. I, as an example, had 4 years experience providing respite care for children with mental and physical disabilities, which had included various formal training, two years experience as a summer camp counselor, and a years experience helping run a mother and toddlers group for my church. There was not a single female au pair in my cluster that had even half as much experience as I did, and all of the male au pairs I was in training with had significant experience as well.

It would clearly be wrong to say that every male au pair is more experienced than every female au pair, but, to be a male au pair you have to jump through a lot more hoops, and generally speaking, do a lot more to prove that you are capable of doing the job well. That means the men who become au pairs really really want to do it. It is not a flight of fancy, or a chance to live in America that draws us, it is because we love working with children, and want to be really good at it.

This has become much longer than I initially intended, because I am rather passionate about this subject. Being a male au pair helped shape me as a man, and has made me better at the things I am doing with my life now. If a male au pair is not right for your family, fine, but if the reason is because it feels weird to you, or a parents feels it is inappropriate, or any of the many ingrained, socially constructed reasons given for not wanting a male au pair, then please take a second to think that through and decide if it is really a good reason not to consider the idea.

Finally, since there are not many male au pairs out there, if anyone, family or au pair, wants to ask me questions about male au pairs, please let me know. I would be happy to answer as best I can.

EVC

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Quirky July 1, 2016 at 8:35 am

EVC, thanks so much for your post. I just read the whole thing out loud to my husband. What you wrote really struck a chord with him — especially because he is a very involved, loving father himself and knows that men can be and should be caretakers.

We are looking for our fifth au pair after all female APs so far. My oldest is a boy, almost 14, and I have two younger daughters, ages 11 and 8. We are with APIA currently, so don’t have the option of male APs with them, but I am seriously considering whether we should register with another agency and broaden our search. One shortcoming we’ve had with the AP program so far is that all but 1 of our APs (who was our best one and set a super-high bar all around) haven’t bonded nearly as well with our son as with our daughters. Even at this age, when my son is very independent and doesn’t require “care” from an AP much more than being driven around and reminded to do his homework, music practice, and chores, I am thinking seriously whether a male AP could bond much better with our son while also bonding with our daughters.

Thanks again — you’ve given us much to think about.

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momo4 July 1, 2016 at 12:24 pm

I switched from APC to CC because I wanted to get a male AP and APC only occasionally has a single male candidate. CC had several great looking candidates, and we matched with a wonderful man with loads of experience who will arrive late this month.

Switching agencies isn’t a really big deal, be sure to ask for the “thanks for switching” discount which is similar to the returning families discount ($1K). I found the HF profile for CC to be more extensive so it took me a bit longer to fill out than I expected, but the AP profiles also seemed a bit more comprehensive and navigating through them was easy. I was very upfront with APC that I was happy with the agency including the LCC, they just didn’t have any male candidates.

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EVC July 1, 2016 at 12:35 pm

It sounds like APC is not so great with male au pairs anymore. There were quite a few of us in my training. It is sad if that has changed.

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CAmom22 July 5, 2016 at 11:03 am

This is odd to hear. My last 2 au pairs were males from APC. I recall there was a fairly large selection (and I was looking only at a specific country). I wonder if they have cut back in the last year?

EVC July 1, 2016 at 12:26 pm

My pleasure Quirky. I hope you find someone great. If you have questions let me know. I was with Au Pair Care. They seemed to be one of the most receptive agencies as far as male Au pairs went. This was six years ago at this point, but it sounds like a lot of agencies have still not moved past the “our families do not want male au pairs”, which is clearly nonsens.

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Late to the office July 14, 2016 at 4:11 pm

With APIA you have to ask for male APs. They dont have them listed on their website. But they do offer them. I have spoken with my lcc about it as I have been trying to convince my husband. Talk with your placement coordinator.

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WarmStateMomma July 7, 2016 at 11:07 pm

Nicely said, EVC. Thank you for sharing this perspective.

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Callie November 1, 2016 at 1:29 pm

My older son (5 years) is much more independent and calm than our mischievous, attention-hog daughter (3 years). So, I’ve been feeling like he gets a bit neglected by his last couple APs (female), and 1 had issues bonding with him (which was odd to our first AP because he’s SO much easier to talk to than the younger, and loves you if you talk and play with him). I’m thinking that perhaps a male au pair, if we find the right fit, may be a way to change the dynamics I’m seeing lately between children and AP.

Here’s my question/concern though, that I hope you can answer, EVC. How was it finding friends? At least here, all the au pairs in our area are females. There may be one in the area a bit south (and who knows about the other agency au pairs in the area, but I still doubt many).

Callie

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Frankfurt AP Boy November 3, 2016 at 5:33 pm

Callie, I have been an au pair 3 times now and have never felt ostracised from other au pairs due to my gender (now I do feel it slightly due to me being older than most au pairs). Generally, I have found I am able to fit in with female au pairs without an issue. The only problem I have found is with au pairs from countries where they have just never seen any male caring for children and are a bit freaked out – but this reaction that male au pairs have to get used to and fortunately is fairly uncommon. Also, there are tonnes of other ways to meet people. The most obvious one I have found is to do languages exchanges and joining expat communities from my home country. As well as of course joining any clubs to do. I think I would feel quite isolated if I only ever socialised with other au pairs – I am generally looking for some degree of social integration in the native community I am living in.

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EVC November 4, 2016 at 12:36 am

I would echo what Frankfurt AP said. I never found it to be an issue. I did things with the rest of the cluster and made some friends amongst them.
I will say that all of the people I became close friends with were from outside of the au pair cluster. I was pretty active in the church I joined, and that is where I made most of my close friends, some of whom I am still close with six years later.
The age thing I think is more likely to create barriers than gender. I was the oldest au pair in my group, had already taken a gap year to work and had completed my undergrad degree, and got engaged part way through the year, so being in a different place in life created more barriers than gender.

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Should be working July 1, 2016 at 7:00 am

We had 6 female APs and are waiting now for our 2nd male AP to arrive. We had a fantastic year with boy #1. I had wanted to switch to males several years ago but DH took awhile to come around. As our older daughter became more of a passenger-drivee and less of a kid in need of care, we decided our younger son would enjoy a male. But I must admit that I pushed hard for the switch mainly because–with some backup from HPs on this blog who had hosted males–I thought it would be easier for me to manage a boy AP.

In particular I had trouble keeping a sense of my own authority over the the whole year with female APs, the dynamics seemed complex. Plainly said, I find it easier to tell a young man what to do and how to do it than to tell a young woman the same things. My own weakness for sure, but when our daughter got into a huge health crisis I needed one less thing to worry about and finally won out on trying a male AP.

It was for me easier to manage the boy AP, I had less self-doubt and it all went soooo smoothly. I really hope that the next one works out as well.

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momo4 July 1, 2016 at 12:47 pm

After 9 female APs we are getting out first male AP this month. I had thought about it before, but our agency just never had many if any candidates. So I switched agencies.

I have had the same experience you describe regarding keeping my sense of authority. I have had some wonderful relaxed friendly relationships with APs (I just adore my current AP, we spend a lot of time together taking care of the kids and will be sad to see her go) but when my AP is not properly doing her job I have a very hard time stepping out of the comfortably friendly casual HM role into the manager role and dealing with it the way I ought to. After 9 years experience I have gotten a little bit better at it (and definitely a lot better about setting up and gently reinforcing expectations early on), but I have also come to accept that this is just part of my personality, and I am not likely to transform myself into an assertive professional manager type any time soon.

I have to admit I have also gotten a bit tired of the relationship dramas of my female APs, even the good ones. I am deeply aware that it is simply part of the package, I was there myself too at that age, but the unpredictability of it all and the mood sings really affects me since we see so much of each other, and I tend to care about them so much. If they had a BF before arriving, the relationship may end during the year, or not. If they don’t have a BF they may find one here, and it may work out, or not. And you never know what the relationships will be like. Or they may say they are not in a relationship, but really they are and just ended it to come here, but then they regret it… I’ve seen (and heard about!) it all. And while I’m happy for their significant other to come for a visit, I’ve come to dread they post-visit blues the AP seems inevitably to go through. This actually seems to happen after family visits too. Who knows if it will be any different with a male AP, we’ll see.

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Multitasking Host Mom July 1, 2016 at 10:10 pm

It’s funny, but I felt I really struggled with managing our male au pair much more than our female au pairs. And I was really surprised that the difference occurred!

I think some of it for me was that I take a much more team approach to management (both at my job as a supervisor at work and at home with my AP). Our last two female APs I really got to know fairly well, but our male AP I never really seemed to really connect with. Since I had already laid a foundation of trust and respect with our female APs, if there was a problem I could simply say to them what needed to be done/changed/approved upon then transition into a discussion about how can we fix this together and brainstorm ideas. With our male AP, since he never really seemed up to discussion, I always felt like I was just dictating orders to him. That always felt really awkward to me! But obviously this was my issue!

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Frankfurt AP Boy July 1, 2016 at 10:56 am

I am an avid reader of this blog and keep meaning to comment… with this one I should make a special effort! Well done to EVC… you have said many things that I would have.

The first thing is that I wish host families would consider me as an individual. Its an obvious point I guess but I much rather a family chooses me for my experience and personality rather than because the stereotype of a male caregiver better fits your family. As there are so few male au pairs I often worry that if a family is particularly looking for a male au pair then they are accepting me because their choices are so limited.. I believe I fit the stereotypical male au pair quite well but I also imagine many female au pairs could do too (i.e. they can be active, resilient, adventurous etc). Conversely, aspects of my personality may be more what a stereotypical female au pair is.

Saying that though, it does seem that some children do better with one gender than the other. For example, I have noticed during my time looking after boys that there may be such a thing as a ‘male dialogue’! The other day I was in the car for around 4 hours with my charge and we were talking non-stop about how great it would be to catch a Pokemon, who is the strongest superhero in various conditions; what is electricity and why cant we see it; whats the difference between a car and a van etc etc etc etc etc. From my point of view, there is this almost obsessive curiosity for particular things that some little boys have that, maybe, a male au pair is more inclined to foster and be interested by.

It is great that there is a group of host families that advocate male au pairs. Seeing more males in childcare positions is positive for everyone I think. I have known so many families in which both parents work, and even when the mother works more hours than the father, she still assumes the majority of the childcare. The husband is seen as being such a great guy if he helps equally with the kids… to me it shouldn’t be a chore at all. I wonder if that would improve if we all (male and female) had more positive childhood experiences of male caregivers that have chosen to look after children because they find it genuinely gratifying. I often wonder if that would lead to higher expectations of what boys hope to gain from spending time with their own kids as fathers and also what girls might expect as normal from fathers of their children in the future.

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AlwaysHopeful HM July 1, 2016 at 3:13 pm

So, we are now 3 “bropairs” in, and although with each new search I lean a little more towards male au pairs, I am still open to either male or female. As Frankfurt Boy AP lays out, I have not found one model of au pair among our guys. Each has been sporty– but that’s because we look for sporty, regardless of gender. Also (and perhaps because of the sportiness) 2 of the 3 have been stereotypically “stinky boy-ish.” Not so much their bodies, but their rooms… phew! So that’s a thing, maybe. 2 of the 3 have been quite vain and obsessed with body image, fashion, etc., in a way that I would have likely screened out in a female, but I didn’t bother to check for in a male. 2 had girlfriend breakup drama… one to the extent that it was debilitating… and the 3rd had the drama of not being able to find a girlfriend. Incidentally, our one female au pair was very independent and never involved me in her drama. Also, I found it easier to assert authority with 2 of the 3, but I think it had more to do with age, than gender (both my female and the other male au pair were much older). One really didn’t like to be dirty (like sticky kid fingers dirty). All 4 au pairs– male and female– loved to shop.

The bottom line is, as Frankfurt AP Boy said, the au pairs were all individuals, with individual quirks and assets, and each had something that made him right for our family– just not the same something. I do lean towards male au pairs because 1) it can make the search less overwhelming, and 2) my son doesn’t care who it is as long as he has testosterone. He understands though, that we may or may not always have males, and he’s comfortable with that. And, given the many male au pairs I have run across in my searches that I would never consider for my family, and the females who seem just great, I’m willing to lean, but not make a blanket statement about picking one gender or another.

To answer the question of what surprised me…mostly debunking my own stereotypes. For example, assuming that males are going to be more resistant to housework, will be more naturally authoritative, or will feel more judge-y about the several thousand ways I am not in any way like Betty Crocker. I also worried that males might introduce gender stereotypes that would be uncomfortable to address (e.g., tough boys don’t cry; pink is for girls). Those are personality, upbringing and cultural things that are screenable in males and females. Over time, I’ve adjusted my questions so that I’m asking the same things of males or females– because really what I want is the best person for the job and for our home. And while I do sometimes miss having a female in the house for female bonding (even our pet is a boy!), my son is over the moon with the male bonding, so I consider both, and let the best man (or woman) win.

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Emerald City HM July 1, 2016 at 5:17 pm

So far we have hosted only 1 male au pair and as far as all around fit, he was probably the best in our family so far. He was really active with the girls which was great and spent his time at the park playing with them instead of sitting on the sidelines playing on his phone.

I’m very hesitant with female au pairs that claim to be “sporty”, so far we’ve had two that said that, which really meant they liked to go to the gym instead of actually getting down and running around with our very active girls.

This next time we are hosting a female au pair but that was more of a consequence of not finding a male candidate at the time we were looking that met our other criteria, the main one being solid experience with young infants (since we have a new baby and all).

We will continue to look for the best match for our family needs at the time we are looking and I do imagine we will go back to hosting male au pairs. Probably the biggest issue in him having to take 3 girls into the men’s restroom (we don’t have a problem with this, but some people do) since they are too young to go on their own (and changing tables for the baby until she is out of diapers).

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Multitasking Host Mom July 2, 2016 at 7:46 am

Our one rematch in five years of hosting was a male au pair. With my sons getting older, I was really excited to try hosting a male that go around. Plus, my older son had two male teachers over the course of his elementary career, and he seemed to really bond with them more than his female teachers. Also, I liked the idea of my kids learning that anyone can take on a job regardless if they are of a gender that is typical of that line of work or not. Honestly looking back…I probably had too high of expectations for that match and got a little too focused on the “idea” of hosting a male AP and had ignored some of the other things that I normally looked for in an AP that works for our family.

I will second that when we were in the matching process, even though it was a much smaller pool of male APs, I was impressed with most of the male au pair’s experience. The one we choose had a couple years of experience working full time with children and had even had worked for three months with children that had the same special needs as my child. I thought that I had hit the AP jackpot!

When he arrived, some stereotypes were evident (hated to say that…but it is true) Ultimately, the personality differences and lack of the AP taking the time to bond with our family just proved to be too much. We eventually went into rematch. The whole experience was pretty awful, so for our next AP we went back to what had worked for us before…a female AP with a lot less child care experience, but a better fit in other ways namely personality and shared interests.

And just because our experience with a male AP didn’t work out…I am no way writing off all male APs in the future. When we start looking for our next AP, I will look at both males and females and pick the AP that is the best fit for our family.

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anon for this one July 5, 2016 at 2:55 pm

We’ve never hosted a male. We are 8 APs into our time and when the kids were little (girls only) I wasn’t super keen on the idea of a male AP doing butt wiping and bathing and dealing with public toilets, etc. Now that they are older, I would worry about the potential of romance. And let me make it clear, I am in no way speaking of a Male AP assaulting my kids, but rather the very real possibility that a young teen HK might develop a crush on a older teen boy that she spends an inordinate amount of time with who is not in any real way a family member. I do think there are a lot of benefits to the sportiness, the low-drama and the different perspective that a Male AP may bring to the table, I just can’t seem to reconcile . Curious how other HMs deal with this, especially with a 14 yo dd and a 19 yo AP?

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Emerald City HM July 5, 2016 at 3:39 pm

I’m not close to this at all in age yet but here is what I generally think might happen when our oldest daughter is 14. First, I wouldn’t host a 19 year old au pair now that we need drivers. Car insurance alone is ridiculous for that age driver, worse for male drivers. I also wouldn’t expect that the au pair is actually spending that much time with a 14 year old, I more expect that for that age he/she would really be more of a taxi service. Yes sort of sad, but she would likely have after school activities and friends, but be at that age where she can’t drive yet.

I’m also thinking that since we have 3 girls, it might actually be nice to have less estrogen in the house anyway.

As far as the crush goes, there’s a lot of factors that play into that. I wasn’t worried about my 16 year old son developing crushes on our female au pairs when we first started hosting, which could have potentially made her job super awkward. But in the end I think a lot of it rests on the personality of your children and the household dynamics, if our daughters end up being “boy crazy” and hosting a male would lead to more drama in the house, then we would avoid hosting male au pairs.

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Returning HM July 5, 2016 at 10:15 pm

We have a 14 year old daughter and a 19 year old male AP. First, I agree with “anon for this one” that we will never host another under 21 year old male due to the cost of the car insurance. Our AP is an additional $2500! Of course, that amount is nothing compared to the grocery bill to feed this guy, but that is another story…

As others have said, at this point the AP is pretty much a driver for my daughter, but at the same time, they really enjoy each other. Today, for example, she had nothing to do in the morning, and he was off, and they went to the mall together to go shopping. They have run 5Ks together, gone for ice cream together, called the local pop radio station together, and generally really enjoyed each other’s company. My daughter had very similar relationships with the last three male APs, and hopefully she will have the same with the next one too.

I will say that my daughter is totally uninterested in boys at this point (or girls for that matter), except if they can swim faster than she can. She spends most of her time at the pool as a competitive swimmer, and when she isn’t at the pool, she is in school, doing homework, hanging out with her friends, listening to music, or doing the other things that 14 year old girls do. Nothing about the AP interests her beyond being the “older brother” who drives her around, brings her enormous snacks, occasionally cooks with her, and talks music/pop culture/sports with her. If I saw anything else from her – any interest in her beyond the standard curiosity about the person living with us as a member of our family for the year or anything even remotely crush-like, we would not be hosting a male AP. But despite the fact that our APs have all been good looking and yes, this year’s one is 19 as opposed to 21-22 as our previous males have been, our daughter shows zero, and I mean ZERO, interest.

Now, if I had as a daughter one of my daughter’s boy-crazy friends, then this would not be an option. And I also choose carefully whom we invite to live with us. Last year I actually turned down a lovely young man who was just adorable in that sweet little cute boy kind of way — there was just no way I could have him in our house and not worry. But at this point, this isn’t a concern we have. And again, I think you have to know your child and know what will work for her (or him) and not put him or her in an uncomfortable or challenging situation.

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Quirky July 6, 2016 at 1:31 pm

Can any experienced host parents of bropairs share your screening process, and how that may resemble or differ from the screening process for a female au pair? Are there any particular experiences or traits I should look for as positives or red flags, or any interview questions that I should ask that I might not otherwise think to ask? We are looking at bropair candidates but I’m not sure if the same “formula for success” applies as for our previous female au pairs or if I need to retool my screening.

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Returning HM July 6, 2016 at 2:53 pm

Hi Quirky, In some ways it’s different but in most ways it’s similar to choosing a female AP. Similarities: I look for very similar qualities and experiences in both males and females. I do not give males a pass on anything that I held as a standard for females. In fact, I focus on choosing the right *au pair* for our family, not the right *male* au pair for our family. I require excellent driving, strong experience caring for children many hours per day for a long period of time, experience working with children or adults with disabilities, strong swimming ability, endless patience and willingness to sit on the floor playing Legos, strong English, A level education or higher, and demonstrated passion in outdoor play. I also look for APs who have had significant household responsibilities, including laundry, cooking, cleaning, and caring for aging relatives or small siblings. These are the same criteria I used for females.

In terms of differences, I ask a lot of questions about a candidate’s relationship with his mother and/or older sisters. I need a male who is comfortable taking instruction from a woman, since I do most of the “instructing” in the household. I look for males whose mothers work outside the home – four out of five have had divorced parents and lived in mother-only households where the mother had a job that required her to be away from home for long periods and thus the AP candidate had to do a lot of work around the house. I ask questions about preferred communication styles as I need someone comfortable with very open, fluid communication. The “strong, silent type” would not work for me at all. I look for males who do not think there’s anything wrong with an 11 year old male child (developmentally 9) who wants hugs a lot, who sleeps with a bed full of stuffed animals, and who still needs to be taken to pee overnight so that he doesn’t wet the bed. He also needs to be supported when he cries and not lectured that boys don’t cry. I look for males who like a lot of affection and are comfortable with it. I need a male who can interact with my daughter comfortably and has a lot of teen girl experience, and I screen carefully for this, including checking all references. I screen for males who know how to “let down gently” a young teen who may develop a crush on him (fortunately not my daughter but one of her friends), and we talk about this explicitly. I screen for a male AP who can buy pads and tampons if needed (I travel for work 3 days/week and if I am away when my daughter runs out of stuff, well, he is going to need to help with this). I screen for males who are comfortable eating vegetarian dinners since the females in our household don’t eat meat and I don’t prepare meat at dinner. Finally, I look for males who genuinely want to engage in the childcare aspect of being an au pair and want a career as a teacher or social worker. I have seen too many male APs who come to be APs simply because they know they will be outnumbered 50:1 if not more and want to be surrounded by potential dates.

Oh, and with that, I screen for males who have a lot of female friends (not girlfriends) and understand and are comfortable with the fact that they may go an entire year with only female close friends (not one of our four males has had a close male friend the entire time he was with us).

It takes me usually three weeks from first contact to matching to interview and get comfortable with a male applicant. This is significantly longer than it took me with our female APs, but this also may be that I was more experienced with the males than I was with the females. Our males have all been loving, affectionate, warm, and open, and they have all been great with both our children and with us.

My advice is definitely not to settle for anything other than great — there are too many great male applicants (and far fewer families considering them) for you to settle at all!

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EVC July 7, 2016 at 2:13 am

There are some really excellent pointers in here and many of them speak to the comfort level a
Male au pair needs to have in (for better or worse) what is still a woman’s world. Many of the things you consider important are all things I would use to describe myself, strong mother, two sisters who I have a great relationship with, comfortable with affection, lots of close female friends etc etc. I think all
Of these speak to a description of young men who are very comfortable in their own skin. I do not think you can be a good make au pair if you have have a conservative or old fashioned view of gender Roles, or if you view
Masculinity as something incompatible with a caring role. Being a man in your early twenties or late teens and being at peace with taking on a role that society has long said is not for you takes a great deal of self awareness, confidence and the ability to disregard snide remarks. Only someone who is happy being themselves can do that.

For what it is worth, these traits, plus the wonderful learning I did as an au pair have made me a better husband in myriad ways, and have in no way diminished my essential masculinity.

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Returning HM July 7, 2016 at 7:17 am

Yes – comfortable in his own skin! That is the key!

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WarmStateMomma July 7, 2016 at 11:05 pm

Has anyone had a problem with male APs taking the kids into public bathrooms? My girls are 1 and 3 and this would be super difficult for us. How do other families handle this? Where do they change the baby? Where does everyone go when AP or kids need to use a public restroom? My husband hates taking the kids out on his own for this very reason.

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Frankfurt AP Boy July 8, 2016 at 5:31 am

At worst I have found that a mild inconvenience. I wouldn’t have a problem taking a 3 year old into a men’s toilet (I don’t think the gender of the kid makes a difference in that case). As for nappy changes, I tend to go to the same places with babies so know where a changing table is easily accessible. If it is some place new, I bring a changing mat and put it on the floor of the disabled toilet. If I were really stuck, and there was a changing table in the womens’ toilets but not in the male, then I would ask the staff there if I can use that. I have never had to do that though.

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WarmStateMomma July 19, 2016 at 7:56 am

My husband uses the trunk of the car for diaper changes if he’s running errands, but the zoo of all places has nowhere suitable to change a diaper other than the women’s room. He ends up furtively changing it on a bench out in the open. The 3yo is a trickier one because my husband’s unshakeable fear is that she will see someone gross using the urinal with his pants around his ankles (again). I cannot imagine a situation where the best option is changing a diaper on the floor of a men’s room. That’s a nightmare scenario for germaphobes!

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FirstTimeHM July 8, 2016 at 7:39 am

My husband always took the kids to wherever the changing table was (usually the ladies’) and no one ever said something about that.
When they were past diapers but still needed help (age of 3 approx) he took them with him to the gents. That also never was a problem, not even raised eyebrows. Most men of 30 or above have kids of their own so they probably fully understand.
No one ever questioned me when I brought a 3 yo boy with me to the ladies’, this is equally normal and way more acceptable than letting a small boy go into his own restroom without anyone helping him.

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Au Pair Sis July 28, 2016 at 1:48 pm

I absolutely love the male Au Pairs that I have met and have seen so many families that have had success with male APs. They are so energetic, easy going and fun. I think that they offer benefits to families with any gender or age group of kids, but especially when there are boys in the home. I love reading all of the comments in this feed. I hope more Host Families consider hosting male Au Pairs.

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