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10 Unique Risks Families Face When Hiring an Au Pair

You may think it is a great idea to hire an au pair, but what are you really getting into? Know the risks and rewards before you hire. Here are ten unique problems that families face when they hire an au pair.

  1. Safety – First off, how stable is this person you hired? Do you know if they are likely to snap and punch one of your kids? Or you? Or steal your car? Or your jewelry? It is not like you can meet them face to face before you hire them. You just have to trust in the background information they gave you. Speaking of…
  2. Background – Do you really know their background? Their education and experience? How? It is not as easy to run a background check on a foreign au pair as it is to run one on a US citizen. In fact, in some places it is almost impossible.
  3. References – How about checking references? Are you going to call or write those people they worked for last? Can you? They may have moved or changed numbers. What are you going to say to that?
  4. Culture clash – Different cultures have different attitudes towards things like how to discipline a child, how to raise a child, and many other ideas you may not even think about. Make sure you pick an au pair from a culture you are familiar with or do some research on.
  5. Moral issues – Along with separate cultures comes different moral standards. Be clear in what you are looking for so you aren’t surprised when they tell your kid it is okay to punch the neighbor.
  6. Discipline – Do you spank? Do you want your au pair to? In some cultures, spanking is great. Be clear in what is acceptable and what is not, or you can run across a lot of issues later on.
  7. Attention – If you’ve read the latest French book on child rearing, then you know they feel children should be seen and not heard. Treated as little adults, they don’t get half the attention of a typical American child. For some people, that’s fine. For others, not so much.
  8. Legal – Bringing someone in to work for you from another country can be a complex legal process. Make sure you know what you are getting into.
  9. Tax – Similarly, taxes on a foreign worker have their own set of rules. Know the laws before you hire an au pair.
  10. Disease – Last but definitely not least, what about disease? I’m not talking smallpox, but things like foreign viruses that may be common over there, but not here. It is just another thing to think about.

Most of these issues can be avoided with a little research and wisdom. Keep in mind where your au pair is coming from and make sure you know what you are doing. It can be a great idea, or a colossal blunder. It is all up to you.

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