Au PairI'm one of those old fashioned people. I believe in raising your own kids. Now, I don't care if it's the mom or the dad — or some kind of mixture of the two. Do what works for your family.

But if you can't admit that having someone else — no matter how qualified — care for your children nine hours a day is equivalent to having someone else “raise your children,” then we'll have to agree we are working within entirely different mathematical systems.

That said, I've had a number of friends who worked as nannies or au pairs. What's an au pair (other than a fancy French term)? An au pair is a young foreign person (usually female), who helps with housework and/or child care in exchange for room and board and, often, a salary.

Working as an au pair can be a fabulous experience. The person travels to another country, and gets to experience the new culture with complete immersion.

The hours can be long (up to 45 hours per week) and demanding, but the opportunity to live and work in another country, to learn the language and customs, to be part of a family and community, is much richer than taking a vacation — and instead of paying, you get paid.

Given the hours and schedule, many au pairs can attend night school or just take in the town. If you choose a large city to work in, the opportunities for culture and entertainment are endless. Two friends of mine worked in New York City. Is there anything you can't find in NYC? (Other than peace and quiet?)

Some brokers also allow you to take time to travel and for an extended period of time after you complete your stay.

My friends who worked in this field found the experience mostly positive. They learned a great deal about raising children and running a household. They were also able to save money for college because their living expenses were covered. They learned about other cultures and family structures.

If you're considering such an arrangement, be sure to carefully vet the service you use and the family you will work for. A clear and carefully structured arrangement will make all the difference in the world.