‘We don’t get enough credit’: Grandparents feel undervalued and unappreciated

Jun 01, 2020
A new study has revealed many grandparents feel they don't get enough credit for the help they provide. Source: Getty

Aussie grandparents feel undervalued and unrecognised in society, a new report has revealed, with many claiming they’re not given enough credit or appreciation for caring for their grandchildren.

The research, which was carried out by National Seniors Australia, has explored the unique and irreplaceable contribution of grandparents, while also shedding some light on how they actually feel about contributing so much time to looking after their grandkids.

It was sadly made apparent that while grandparents love getting to spend extra time with their grandchildren and want to help their family, there’s little public recognition of the work they do and the financial impact it can have on their own lives. The lack of monetary support from the government was highlighted as a major issue for grandparents, as was the lack of acknowledgement for the important work they do in caring for their grandchildren.

“I feel that grandparents don’t get enough credit or appreciation for caring for/raising grandchildren,” one survey participant said.

“Grandparenting has become an integral part of life, it’s very responsible and tiring and demands more government help,” another explained. While a third added: “Maybe parents should have some tax concessions or be able to claim some costs where family members do the childcare.”

Of course, some participants of the research gave positive definitions of their grandparenting experience, describing it as a privilege and exciting. But others felt they were “being used”, had no choice in the matter, were undervalued and were obligated to help out.

“Too many grandparents, regardless of their health or lifestyle, [are] treated as expected babysitters,” one survey participant said. “Retirement means you are expected to babysit grandkids while parents work. Parents have no back up plan for babysitting except grandparents.” While another said: “We feel obliged to undertake at least one day per week of grandparenting due to the excessively high cost of childcare borne by our daughter.”

National Seniors Chief Executive Officer Professor John McCallum said this is something which must be addressed, especially given the current economic climate and impact of the coronavirus outbreak on families. He said it has been made evident throughout the pandemic just how much people rely on grandparents to help out with caring duties, given many weren’t able to over the past couple of months in a bid to protect their health.

“Grandparenting is an intergenerational gift to families and the nation,” McCallum said. “It will become even more important as many families face financial hardship and the government deals with the Covid-19 deficit.

“Like Lego, it can be taken apart and reconnected as times change, for example, as we come out of the Covid-19 shutdown. If supported and sustained it will continue to provide very significant economic value.”

But, unfortunately research authors said the economic contribution of grandparents is being forgotten and there are strong voices saying “older Australian should be taking on greater economic burdens, as they’re better off than younger generations”. When in reality, grandparents are already doing everything they can to support their families during this difficult time and this should be recognised by everyone.

“Grandparenting is just one shining example of the ways older people are supporting younger Australians,” the report read. “The act of grandparenting is a skilful, intellectual, and economic gift which successfully passes from one generation to the next. Remembering this, Australia must strive to maintain the intergenerational solidarity evident through the Covid-19 crisis and retain an ‘all in this together’ attitude as we look toward the future.”

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