A lot of people wait their whole adult lives to become grandparents, looking forward to the days they’ll be able to spend with their grandkids while their own children work. It often occurs when the grandparents themselves retire, meaning they have a lot of free time on their hands.
One grandmother isn’t exactly thrilled by the thought of spending her retirement babysitting her grandchildren. Taking to website Slate to explain the situation, the unnamed nana said she was looking into early retirement but wanted to spend her days travelling, rather than being cooped up at home and looking after her grandbabies.
She said that while she loves them wholeheartedly, she doesn’t agree with the parenting styles of her daughter-in-law. “She has firm opinions on parenting practices, which I don’t share, but I learned from my wonderful mother-in-law that the best gifts you can give to your in-laws are an open door and sealed lips,” she said.
The lady suggested that her daughter-in-law is particularly brutal when it comes to how other people run their homes, attacking everything from meals to cleaning products. Furthermore, the daughter-in-law expects her to offer to babysit regularly when she retires so she no longer has to pay for day care. “I know it will end in tears,” the grandmother said, asking how she says no without offending her son and daughter-in-law.
The website’s advice columnist quickly responded, suggesting the grandmother should say no and not be bullied into looking after her grandchildren. They acknowledged there were situations were compromises by both parties involved could be made, but encouraged the woman to stick to her guns and babysit on her own terms.
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So is it fair for the grandmother to refuse to babysit her grandchildren?
A 2016 survey by the Australian Seniors Insurance Agency suggested that grandparents across Australia are increasingly being called upon for babysitting duties, with most providing at least 16 hours of care a week. Around 937,000 children are looked after by their grandparents each year, saving $6.6 billion in childcare costs annually.
That research found that 59 per cent of grandparents adjusted their lifestyles so they could look after their grandkids, while 60 per cent even change their retirement plans so they can babysit. While the lady above considers the babysitting a burden, 84 per cent of Aussie grandparents are happy to care for their grandchildren out of love, while just 11 per cent consider it a hassle.
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The Australian Institute of Family Studies also acknowledges that the role of grandparents has dramatically changed over the past two decades, with grandmothers in particular providing a more active role when it comes to caring for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers. They’re also more likely to pick children up from school and care for them during school holidays.
Where do you sit on the debate? Do you think grandparents should be forced to babysit their grandchildren if they can, or are parents being selfish by expecting grandparents to take on the responsibility?
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