Is your child being raised by their grandparents? I am not talking of kinship carers, who look after their grandchildren legally as the parents are unable to do so due to reasons such as mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse etc.
I am talking about grandparents who help the parents in looking after their grandchildren if both parents are working full time and are unable to cope with looking after their child/children. What should be the role of grandparents in your child’s life? Should grandparents remain grandparents or should they become parents second time round?
Age of the grandparents
Age of grandparents will determine whether they will be able to look after their grandchildren or not. When I had my children, my parents and my in laws were in their 70s and 80s which would make it hard for them to run around children or handle their tantrums.
Health and Lifestyle
Health and lifestyle will determine the stamina of the grandparents. If grandparents are healthy and active mentally as well as physically, it would be definitely easier for them to pick kids from school, look after them until the parents can pick them up.
Important for grandparent to look after themselves
Most likely the grandparents would be at least 60+ age wise (unless both the grandparents and the parents have had children in their early twenties!) and it is imperative that they look after themselves. It is the duty of the parents to make sure that they don’t overburden the grandparents with looking after their children. Grandparents need to have regular meals (on time) as well as rest or attend their medical appointments. Parents should think about the well-being of the grandparents before leaving their toddlers or hyperactive children to be looked after by the grandparents for the entire day ,every day especially in the school holidays.
Grandparent not keeping well
If the grandparent is not keeping well and is the childminder for your child, make sure you make other arrangements for your child. If the grandparent is not feeling well and you insist on them looking after your child, not only will you jeopardise the health of the grandparent but also the well-being of your own child.
Don’t Overburden the grandparent
Please bear in mind the age of the grandparent before asking them to help you with your child. Don’t give them multiple tasks to do in one go. If you need help, ask for one thing at a time and see how they cope with it and then ask them for more favours. If you feel they are struggling then reduce the amount of things they do for your child by either doing it yourself or getting a child minder/other help to do it.
Disciplining the Child
Parents shouldn’t expect grandparents to discipline their child. Discplining the child is the responsibility of the parent not the grandparents. Also, the grandparents have already gone through the process of raising and disciplining their own children and it would be harder for them to do it all over again.
Grandparents will do things their way
If you as a parent want the grandparent to look after your child, bear in mind that they will look after the child in their own way. As such they are doing the parents a favour by looking after the child, and it should be their prerogative on how your child is to be looked after. If that is not acceptable to the parent, it’s best for the parent to look after the child themselves or get professional help of a childminder/nanny. After all, a grandparent is not a hired help!
Spending time together
A grandparent should be able to spend quality time with their grandchildren. Only then their relationship can blossom. If the parents overburden the grandparents with chores for their children, grandparent will have not time to rest or spend with their grandchildren. They might become resentful or angry at being overburdened and may not be able to give their relationship with the children what it needs!
It’s not all about money
Finally, keep in mind that saving money on the childminder is not the only thing you should be focusing on. You should also consider the well-being of the grandparent and your child.
Grandparents are only for support
It has to be kept in mind that grandparents are only there to give support to parents for raising the child. They shouldn’t be given full responsibility of raising the child. Grandparents can teach values or family and cultural traditions to their grandchildren. They can provide support to the parents by doing the occasional pickups or helping them with their homework.
It’s fine for parents to ask grandparents to help them with their child occasionally but if you do it every day , grandparents will get tired, angry and frustrated with the level of work. At that age they won’t be able to cope with the child as well as a parent can. If grandparents want to do their own thing, parents should make their own arrangements for their child so that the grandparents can enjoy their retirement as well as get a break from looking after the grandchildren.
What are your views about role of grandparents? Do you depend on the grandparents to look after your child? Please put your comments in the box below, I would love to hear from you!