There’s no denying that being a grandparent is one of the most rewarding jobs in life, with few saying no to spending quality time with their loving grandkids. However, it also comes with its fair share of problems, says Lara Crisp, editor of popular grandparenting forum Gransnet.
“On the surface it seems the ideal arrangement,” Crisp wrote in an opinion piece for The Telegraph. “Parents are comforted by the fact their darling offspring are being cared for by a loving family member, it allows for a strong bond to develop between the generations, and retired grandparents surely have loads of spare time anyway. But is it that simple?”
For grandparents it can be a pleasure to spend more time with grandchildren, however for some it means missing out on enjoying their hard-earned retirement and making sacrifices on finances and social lives.
A study conducted by comparison site Mozo found parents are relying heavily on the help offered by grandparents, saving Australian families $267 a month in childcare fees.
Of the grandparents caring for grandchildren, nearly 30 per cent said they were happy to care for their grandchildren, while 5 per cent felt either obliged or exhausted about the care. However, majority (70 per cent), stated they were happy to care for their grandchildren.
“It’s not unusual for them to feel they’ve earned their retirement, and particularly the freedom to take a last-minute break or spend the entire summer away from home,” Crisp wrote. “And, of course, the main reason that some grandparents are reluctant or resentful is that childcare is bloody hard work.”
Additionally, a survey conducted by Gransnet in July showed that 15 per cent of grandparents took early retirement in order to help out with childcare, and 17 per cent said they are financially unstable as a result.
The topic has garnered a mixed response from Starts at 60 readers, some of whom admitted caring for their grandkids was tiring work.
Suzan Wilson said spending time with her grandchildren makes her “feel young again” while Angelina Macie, who’s been looking after her grandkids since they were babies, added: “I love being a part of their lives and that they view my house as their second home.”
However, Joyce Law added: “Love having them but I do get tired sometimes.”
The debate is similar to a furore kicked off by a struggling mother on Mumsnet who admitted she feels “resentful” and even sometimes “bitter” over raising her two children without what she says is enough help from their grandparents.
The woman explained her parents-in-law live five minutes away and look after the five year old after school once a week for about an hour, and while it’s a help, the writer feels she needs another “couple of hours” to really “take a break” while her husband is away working full-time.
Her complaint got a mixed response from other users, with many writing it was a grandparent’s right to spend their time enjoying some freedom.