Inviting an au pair to live in the family home and care for young children is a major step in any host family's life. For many au pairs, coming to the United States and working with their host families will be their first experience living in another culture. They may be far from their friends and family, which is why it is so important for host families to extend their welcome beyond the confines of the house and into their social lives. Parents welcoming a new au pair can follow these tips for introducing their au pair to family and friends.
More Than Just a Gesture
Although there may be practical benefits to introducing an au pair to a host family's friends and acquaintances, doing so is more than a mere gesture of social integration. Host families invite au pairs into their homes to care for their children - this requires a great deal of trust and is far more than a typical relationship with a daycare or babysitter.
Introducing an au pair to friends and family tells both the caregiver and a host family's peers that this relationship is important and that they are proud to have them in their home. Such introductions could also emphasize the au pair's position of responsibility in the eyes of the children - if parents take the time to introduce their au pair to friends and family, children may learn to recognize the au pair's authority in the home.
A Friendly Welcome
One of the best ways to introduce an au pair to close acquaintances is to hold an informal gathering at the family home.
Summer barbecues are ideal for this kind of event, as not only do they provide an opportunity for an au pair to experience a quintessentially American pastime, it also provides a level of security for them. International au pairs may feel more comfortable meeting new people in a familiar environment, and a garden party or barbecue also allows children to have fun with their caregiver in a safe place where parents can watch them interact with their au pair.
Introducing an au pair to friends and family can be one of the most important things a host family can do to make their caregiver feel welcome, help their children feel safe and encourage individuals outside the family home to view the au pair as a partner, not merely a caregiver.