Julie McGhee is a Cultural Care host mom in North Carolina with two teenage boys, Jack, age 15 and Jonathan, age 11. She and her family have hosted a total of ten au pairs, 7 of them female au pairs and 3 of them male au pairs or “bro pairs”.
“With an au pair in your home, it’s just an extension of your family—they become the big sister, or the big brother,” says Julie. The McGhee’s first au pair arrived when their oldest was just a baby and she helped Julie settle into being a new mom while her husband was deployed in Kuwait. Julie has found that her au pairs are equally as helpful now that her boys are teenagers.
Julie shared with us her top 5 ways au pairs can help families with teenagers.
1. Another driver for busy kids’ schedules
“Now that our boys are older, they are involved in a lot more extracurricular activities, including church youth group, guitar, soccer and social activities. Most of these activities are happening during work hours and they are often on the opposite sides of town, and usually at the same time. With the help of our au pair, we can divide, conquer, and still have dinner on the table afterwards, even if it’s from a to-go box.”
2. A homework helper
“Our au pairs know that part of their role is to help with homework, and they are always ready and willing to jump in when needed. Our au pairs make sure the boys are on track to finish it in time and help look up words or figure out problems they may not understand. Helping with homework also benefits our au pairs because they can practice their own English skills, which is a big reason they are here in the U.S. to begin with.”
3. An older sibling versus a babysitter
“I’ve heard a lot of my sons’ friends complain they’re too old for babysitters—but I also know they aren’t ready to be staying home alone quite yet. Instead of being embarrassed about being watched by a babysitter, having au pairs has always been a source of pride for Jack and Jonathan. Having an au pair is pretty cool in the world of teenagers. Our au pairs also help our boys be more confident in themselves, navigate the tricky social scene at school and also encourage our boys do more as far as chores go (laundry, clean up, cooking). This has been such a gift to us.”
4. A positive role model
“As far as role models go, our au pairs have been extraordinary. They have all shown respect for my husband and I, and our kids see that every single day. Our au pairs are quick to have a conversation with either of our boys if they do or say anything that could be interpreted as disrespectful. It’s honestly really great to see someone closer to the boys age talking to them about some of the tough issues that come up.”
“Our au pairs have been able to provide levity and a breath of fresh air when they sensed the boys getting frustrated. A dumb joke, a 5-minute “brain break,” or a game of UNO is always an option, and seeing the au pairs take charge of those situations to create a safe, fun space for the kids to relax, vent or just be silly is always so helpful for everyone.
We love having au pairs and we appreciate the difference they’ve made in our lives, both when when our boys were babies and now that they are in the middle of their teenage years!”