While it’s true that the majority of Cultural Care au pairs are women, the number of male au pairs traveling to the U.S. is on the rise! Male au pairs—or, “bro pairs” as we’ve affectionately nicknamed them—are an important part of our community.
Historically, families have matched with female au pairs more often than their male counterparts. But as more parents recognize that male au pairs make excellent caregivers, role models and energetic playmates for their children, and as gender biases are challenged more than ever, many families are re-examining their childcare search criteria and considering male candidates.
Exceptional caregivers for boys…and girls, too!
Because fewer male applicants are accepted onto the au pair program, the ones who do make it into the matching pool often have many more childcare hours than the minimum experience required. They also typically have a wide variety of interests and leadership skills, making them great childcare providers overall.
Host parents Elena and Frank have hosted 13 au pairs to care for their children over the years and the last two have been male. “After having many female au pairs, we thought our boys would appreciate the change of pace,” says Elena. Their current au pair is Nicold, from Colombia, and Elena describes him as uncomplicated, incredibly open and friendly. “He has a true appreciation for children and caring for them, and within a very short time developed an amazing bond with our three children. They all agree that Nicold is like a big brother to them, and we all consider him a part of our family.”
The Hertlz family of Washington chose Rico, a male au pair from Germany, to care for their 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son, and the decision was an altogether positive one. Host mom Leah will be forever grateful for Rico’s support during a challenging time for their family. “I am a stay-at-home parent and he has been my right hand through it all. He has truly seen us at our best and at our worst.”
Some of her favorite moments with Rico are the simplest ones, like watching him bake German dishes with her daughter and hearing him soothe her son during bedtime routines or diaper changes. “We went into this program looking for an extra set of hands to help us during a very chaotic time in our lives and as we wind down on our first year of hosting, we know we have gained a lifelong member of our family.”
Positive male role models + “big brothers”
“Bro pairs” also act as positive male role models for their host kids. Single mom Melissa and her boys, 14- and 12-years old, have welcomed four male au pairs into their family, and it has been an incredibly positive experience for all three of them. Melissa describes hosting an au pair as “peace of mind, cultural exchange, friendship, mentorship, flexibility and personalized childcare all rolled into one”.
Their most recent au pair, Sam, will be with them for a total of two years before he returns home to Italy and, according to Melissa, he has been an awesome role model for her boys. She adds, “He has been their sounding board for pre-teen-related things that they clearly do not want to talk to their mom about. Sam’s always kept me in the know, but in such a way that it never compromised the boys’ freedom in communicating with and trusting in him.” They also just have fun together and keep busy by going on hikes, riding bikes, fly fishing and cooking delicious desserts.
The McGhee family of North Carolina has hosted 9 au pairs, the last two being male. Their current au pair, Santiago, is from Colombia, and host mom Julie says that his love for her 14- and 10-year-old boys is apparent to everyone who knows them. “We have stopped calling him our ‘au pair’; he is their brother. He is their confidante, their counselor, their coach.” Santiago has helped his teenage “brother” gain confidence in himself and helped his younger one develop a passion for soccer.
Host mom Tessa appreciated how having a male au pair actually helped eliminate the gender bias of childcare in her home, and showed her sons that men can also have a strong home presence: “Not only have they had a “buddy” or “big brother” type presence around to play and interact with, it’s also been great for them to see that it’s ok for a boy to be a caregiver. My husband is very involved in parenting and does a lot of housework. I have a career, so I like the consistency of my boys seeing that there doesn’t have to a big difference between a Mom or Dad’s role in a household.”
Debbi, a host mom in CA, also appreciates her Colombian au pair Marco for the role model he has become for her three young boys. “Marco is someone of incredible integrity and thoughtfulness. He cares about the world—about respecting people, about telling the truth, about learning and getting better every day. That is how he conducts himself, while navigating through shouting preschoolers, endless laundry, and a tumultuous world outside of our house. He is an incredible role model for our children and a tireless contributor, and we’re so grateful to his relationships with each of us.”
Energetic and positive-minded playmates
For families looking for a caregiver who can keep up with the hectic pace of energetic kids, hosting a male au pair is often a smart decision. Samantha, host mom in CA, just welcomed her first au pair Jesse, from Brazil, last year: “We are so grateful that Jesse became part of our family. Even though it’s only been a few months, we can’t imagine our family life without his amazing positive attitude and energy!”
“He is constantly inventing fun games to keep the boys engaged. From huge Lego builds, to Pokémon battles, to soccer drills at the park, to fun art projects, he always has an engaging activity up his sleeve to keep the boys engaged and having fun. Our two boys (ages 10 and 7) greet him with huge bear hugs each morning and look up to him as a role model and older brother.”
Massachusetts mom Helen has hosted 11 au pairs, and two of them have been male au pairs. Her family’s current au pair is Herschelle from South Africa who she says “has had a great impact on our family, and our kids.” Herschelle is a workout fanatic and has encouraged the whole family to improve their fitness. Helen shares, “He took Alex, our 12-year-old to the Spartan Challenge, and I have never seen Alex with such a proud smile, after he completed it. Claire, our 15-year-old, started field hockey last year, and has since excelled, making the varsity field hockey team. No doubt, her training with Herschelle contributed to her athletic success.”
Host mom Tessa saw a similar focus on sports and fitness with her male au pair: “I love seeing my kids happy and having fun while keeping physically active. I find that male au pairs are a bit more excited about the physical activities themselves and when they are having fun, it shows and reflects on the way they care for my children. I also love the fact that my five year old has been playing soccer since he was three (as both of my first male au pairs were huge soccer players), so he’s a star soccer player now and we really do owe it all to them!”
Will you join the many families who rely on male au pairs for exceptional childcare? Start your search now to find out if the perfect “bro pair” is available to join your family!