Very few au pairs come to the US because they want to take care of kids. They can do this in their home countries, with a lot less drama and zero homesickness. While many (let’s hope, most) au pairs like kids, and think they will enjoy caring for kids for a year, this is usually *not* the main reason they become au pairs.
But what are the “real” reasons that au pairs come to the US?
Other Motivations to Become an Au Pair
- See the USA
- improve English
- see Las Vegas/New York/California
- learn about US culture
- Escape to the USA
- immigrate illegally
- meet a future husband/wife
- get a green card through future husband/wife
- switch to different kind of visa once here
- Escape home
- escape repressive government
- escape bad economic options
- escape overbearing parents/divorce/abuse
- escape bad social situation
- Don’t know what else to do with self
- no interesting job prospects
- no romantic prospects
- can’t decide on school or career
- at least it will be an interesting year
- Find herself/himself
- create a challenging adventure
- establish independence
- get another year older, more mature
- Have fun!
- travel & sight-see
- date people your parents would disapprove of
- experience wild social life without reputation concerns
- Learn skills to get a better job at home
- improve English so you can use it at work
- learn about American culture
- learn about American education system
- Other reasons
- save up some money
- send home some money
- shop, shop, shop
- meet Britney Spears
- get discovered as a model/actress/whatever
I’ll bet that virtually no au pairs come here to take courses other than in English.
Why do these other reasons matter?
When parents assume that au pairs are here because they like children, these parents are missing the big(ger) picture of what’s motivating their au pairs. And thus, parents aren’t able to anticipate concerns, meet the au pair’s needs or help him/her meet them, and manage the situation so that everyone is happy and the kids are well cared for.
Have you been surprised by the reasons why your Au Pair(s) chose to spend a year here?
Have you been surprised to discover that, in addition to liking children, your au pair had additional reasons to become an au pair?
What kids of reasons have you discovered?
When have these other reasons really seemed to matter?