Again and again one reads and sees reports in the media that try to portray au pairs as victims, unable to take care of themselves or to benefit from spending time abroad with a family while helping out with childcare.
This makes for a dramatic type of story that gives media outlets highly clickable headlines.
But as the broad-based survey results shown below demonstrate, these isolated incidents don't reflect the true reality of au pairing as experienced by the majority of au pairs themselves.
And the persons who style themselves as the saviours of "au pair victims" by trying to undercut au pairing in general, in fact often end up working against an opportunity that hundreds of thousands of young people have benefited from and value highly.
2,400 au pairs give their opinion
In March 2016, AuPair World asked all of its au pairs at the time (approximately 103,000) how satisfied they were as au pairs.
They were given the chance to answer a set of questions about their au pair experience via a web-based survey tool. More than 2,400 of them took advantage of this opportunity to share their opinions about being an au pair.
Here are some of the key results:
Would you recommend an au pair stay to others?
Having done it themselves, 9 out of 10 au pairs value the experience so much that they urge others to do the same.
Did your au pair experience help you to develop positively as a person?
The whole idea for young people in becoming an au pair is to have time abroad in order to develop positively in the broadest sense. This seems to be working!
Did you feel well-integrated in the family of your host family?
Not every au pair stay leads to perfect integration. But 8 out of 10 au pairs report finding a good place in their host families.
Were you able to improve your foreign language skills through your au pair stay?
Language learning should be one of the central benefits of au pairing. The vast majority of au pairs successfully acquire new language skills.
What other benefits did you have from being an au pair?
The au pair experience facilitates a broad range of different benefits which most au pairs report being able to take advantage of.
Finding a new family when necessary
Au pairs generally seem to hold very positive opinions about the au pair experience. In this context, it is interesting that slightly more than 20% of the au pairs reported changing the family in the course of their au pair experience. The survey did not obtain data regarding the reason for these changes, but one can assume that some portion of the changes were the result of incompatibility between the au pair and their first family.
Did you change families in the course of your au pair stay?
Clearly many au pairs were able to find a sensible solution to such a problem by switching to a family that better suited their requirements.
Who knows best?
While some au pairs do find themselves with inappropriate families, this survey indicates that this tends to be a rare exception. When this happens, action must be taken quickly to correct the situation - most simply by having the au pair leave the family that is not treating them properly and find another one that will help them to enjoy the great things that au pairing has to offer.
Does au pairing have a general problem? We don't think so. We think au pairs know best!