Let’s talk: Does society underrate the contribution of grandparents today? 19

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More grandparents than ever before are becoming caregivers to their grandchildren, or at least providing regular childcare services. Are these contributions being recognised by society though?

In Australia, it’s estimated that 50% of children aged under three are regularly cared for by their grandparents. This free childcare adds a whopping $1.26 billion our economy.

“Grandparents should not only be known as the older generation but the generation that never stops”, a report by National Seniors explained.

“The social and economic impact of carers aged over 50 is substantial”, National Seniors said. Not to mention, that’s before considering households where grandparents are the primary caregivers!

‘Grandparent families’ occur in the absence of stable parent-child relationships. According to National Seniors, grandparents can be forced into ‘parenting’ for a variety of reasons.

Factors like “marriage breakdowns, mental health issues, financial stress, parental incarceration, alcohol and substance abuse” can lead to grandparent families.

Unfortunately for some grandparents, taking care of a young family means that retirement is effectively put on hold. As National Seniors explains:

“For many, retirement aspirations include spending more time with lifelong friends, starting a new hobby, finding new interests or packing up for extended time abroad with loved ones”.

“However, contemporary studies reveal that a small (but increasing) number of Australians are spending their later years raising grandchildren, instead of pursuing retirement goals”.

To make matters worse, grandparent families often receive very little support. Likewise, the contribution of grandparents who do regular baby-sitting often goes unnoticed.

National Seniors has called on the government to value grandparents. “(The government needs to) provide timely and appropriate access to supports and services”.

Resources like respite care, education and training, legal support, social workers, networking groups, marriage counselling and financial assistance could help grandparents facing family duties.

A recent survey also revealed that two out of five grandparents would like to be paid for the childcare they undertake. Today, Starts At Sixty wants to hear your take. Are grandparent carers valued by Aussie society?

Should Australia value the role of grandparents more, especially when it comes to babysitting and childrearing? Are ‘grandparent families’ doing it tough? Should the government step in to support grandparents more?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. The problem for grandparents is that at least half of them are females. In our culture females are expected to sacrifice their own lives in order to serve their family. Although being thanked and appreciated is nice, there is no point in expecting it. It is just as likely to be simply taken for granted because that’s what women, including grandmothers are supposed to do.

    3 REPLY
    • Wow, that’s a very insightful comment Aileen May… If you would ever like to write an article about that, please let us know 🙂 – SaS

    • I believe you could be right about half are females. I don’t have a statistic for this. I don’t agree with the last statement. If we start our children learning good dialogue from the beginning and respect for there parents grand parents would be asked with love to what ever the answer was. just a thought chers

  2. I feel very valued. I am not a full time carer but I get to do the morning school run again once a week. I love it!
    I woulden’t want to do full time caring though.

  3. I love babysitting and spoiling the grandchildren, but I know I’m definitely taken advantage of, the occasional thank you would make a bug difference, I would never say no to looking after the grandkids because if I did I would never see them, it would be nice though if my daughter ever offered to help me, but that will never happen.

  4. Why Arnt the working sons and daughters paying their parents for the time that the parents put in taking loving care of the grandchildren,after all look at the money they save by not having to pay non family carers .

  5. I cared for my grandson one day a week for 5yrs and loved it .I did this to help out with child minding costs and my daughter was very grateful for the help. I have a wonderful relationship with him now, he’s nearly 12. I find him keeping an eye on me now sometimes when we’re out and about , making sure I’m being looked after. He is a wonderful boy and a lot can be said for great parents who teach respect and love.

    1 REPLY
    • That is beautiful, I feel the same way about my grandchildren. It definitely creates a special bond and it lights up your life.

  6. I have always minded my 5 granchildren so that their parents could work. Wouldn’t change it for anything. Now minding my 7 month old grandson 3 days a week and loving every minute I have him. They are grown up before you know it so I appreciate my time with them. I am very close to all my granchildren. And I want to make it easier for their parents to be able to work.

    1 REPLY
  7. Minding granddaughter full time and can be a long day depending on their work times and weekend work. I love having her but seem to have lost contact with several friends that are not keen on children as they age and also try to have a holiday. My daughter only knows her days off on a weekly basis so daycare not an option

  8. If grandparents wish to be carers free of charge then that’s up to them, but I think the parent(s) should at least offer to pay them something since they are benefiting financially themselves. It is not up to the government of the day to subsidise grandparents……only when they become custodians of their grand child/children for whatever reason.
    I looked after my two grand children full time, but my daughter insisted on paying me even though I would have gladly done it for nothing. In the end I accepted a nominal fee, which of course I spent on the grand children. Each case is different, but as long as it is discussed first and not just taken for granted that parents will automatically be the carers whilst the parent(s) work.

  9. If you are looking after grandchildren full time because of particular circumstances then you should be given the same access to services as if they were your own children. If you are childminding while the parents work you should be appreciated and treated accordingly. Whether this be in a small remuneration or just a thank you now and again. It is always best to negotiate before taking on the role of carer and making sure everyone is on the same page because the people we are caring for will be the losers and I do not think that is right for our grandchildren.

  10. Yes l agree that lots of grand parents can give their time freely my thoughts were for the grandparents who are going without so much themselves to help their children who expect the government to pay for strangers to do what the working sons and daughter should be paying for ,l doubt they will be willing to do the same when their children are old enough and so it goes on .

  11. Not the Governments responsibility if grandparents are helping out while the parents work. The parents should give the grandparents money not the Government. If this was commenced just another policy to cheat the system.

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