by Misti Bushmire
au pair :: noun \ˈō-ˈper\
If you’ve ever read early 20th century literature or any Agatha Christie mysteries I’m sure you remember how many families had an au pair as part of their family – but never as the criminal! It’s not a concept that is well known in the United States but au pairs were very common in Europe from the late 1800’s and still are. The word means “on par” or “equal to” in French. The intention was a reciprocal, caring relationship, the au pair being part of the family, not a servant. Typically an au pair is a young woman aged 18-26 (sometimes a young man but we will say young woman simply for ease of discussion) from another country. They provide childcare and light housekeeping in return for room and board and a weekly stipend.