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Home Family Parenting Advice How to say goodbye to an au pair — Good Parenting

How to say goodbye to an au pair — Good Parenting

Au pairDear Dr. Debbie,

My children have enjoyed the attentions of a wonderful au pair who must return to her home country in a few short months. Going into this, my husband and I knew it would just be for one year, but I don’t think our children have any way to prepare for her leaving. We’re planning to sign on for another au pair and hope to be as lucky as we have been with this one. Any advice for easing the goodbye for everyone?

Grateful Mom

Don’t miss last week’s column Addressing a situation with a bully — Good Parenting

Dear Mom,

How nice that your family has benefitted from a cross-cultural childcare situation. For readers who are unfamiliar with au pairs, this arrangement provides room and board, and a bit of spending money (about $200 per week), for a young adult from another country who comes to serve as a nanny. Agencies who place au pairs provide screening to assure they are well suited and well prepared for the job. Agencies may also offer varying amounts of ongoing support. Some agencies arrange field trips so the au pairs can enjoy more of what their host country has to offer as well as discussion sessions so they can socialize with their peers. An au pair typically works more than a 40-hour week, which can include the use of the family car for outings with the children and shuttling them to activities. Quite naturally, strong bonds of affection can form between an au pair and his or her charges.

Help everyone mark the end of this period of time together, but also invest in keeping one another in your hearts.

Capturing memories

While there is still time before her departure, be sure to take plenty of photos and short videos. These will be treasured by your children as they recall the fun times they’ve had with her. Your children can refer to these visual records as reminders of what they did together and how they felt about having her in their lives. Make a photo album for the au pair and include drawings, notes and or dictations from your children to show her how much she has meant to your family.

Farewell fanfare

Plan a special farewell meal for the day before you take her to the airport. The children can contribute to making parts of the meal if they are able. Include neighbors, extended family members and maybe some au pair friends who have been part of the au pair’s year with your family. Guide the children to make cards for her and perhaps plan a song or speech to present at this auspicious occasion. Help them recall what they have enjoyed the most about their time with her so they can express their appreciation before she leaves.

Holding tight

There are many ways to hold on to a good relationship. With Skype and e-mail, the miles are easily bridged. Some host families maintain ties with their au pairs for many years. You might look forward to her returning for a visit or you might plan a family trip to visit her in her own country. When your children hit special milestones, be sure to send an announcement. As they mature, your children can play more of a role in keeping in touch. Likewise, knowing how much your family cares about her, your au pair will keep you in the loop as she continues her life’s journey.

Consider this year as a beginning. The world is a smaller, friendlier place when we establish loving connections to special people who carry our love with them wherever they may be.

Dr. Debbie

Deborah Wood is a child development specialist in Annapolis. She has a doctorate in Human Development from the University of Maryland at College Park and is founding director of the Chesapeake Children’s Museum. Long-time fans and new readers can find many of her “Understanding Children” columns archived on the Chesapeake Family Magazine website. You can find her online at drdebbiewood.com.

Click here for more parenting advice by Debbie Wood.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments or submit a question to Dr. Debbie at Betsy[at]jecoannapolis.com.

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