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Setting Limits to Grandparent Childcare

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 23 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Childcare Children Grandparent

Many grandparents are happy to provide childcare for their grandchildren, but don’t necessarily want to be responsible for the everyday care of a grandchild.

As with all family matters, it is wise for parents and grandparents to have open lines of communication so that neither generation grows resentful of the other.

Assessing your Ability to Provide Childcare

While most grandparents would love to provide at least occasional childcare for their grandchildren, they must be honest with themselves and their grown children about their capabilities and availability. Children, especially young ones, can require a great deal of care and attention, which can be both physically and emotionally exhausting.

Even the most energetic grandparents may find that keeping up with a preschool aged grandchild can be overwhelming, so when offering their assistance, they should consider the age, maturity, and temperament of their grandchildren. Additionally, because many grandparents are employed either full or part time, they may not be in a position to provide regular childcare.

Establishing Honest Communication

In an effort to be helpful, some grandparents overextend themselves in their willingness to provide childcare for their grand-kids, only to later realise that they’d prefer not to be in charge of their grandchildren on a regular basis.

Once their grown children have come to count on the help, however, some grandparents feel awkward about approaching the subject of cutting back on childcare. Unspoken regret can quickly turn into resentment, though, so grandparents should be honest with their children about their limits when it comes to providing childcare.

The Importance of Flexibility

Flexibility is an important component in any relationship, and the grandparent/parent/grandchild connection is no exception. Grandchildren are certainly a source of joy for most grandparents, but there is a fine line between taking a parent up on their offer of childcare to taking advantage, so grandparents and their grown children need to be flexible with one another so that both generations can benefit.

For example, grandparents who wish to provide childcare for their grandchild but are not comfortable to commit to a full-time schedule may be happy with agreeing to tend to the child a few days a week and ask that the parents make alternate arrangements for the remainder. In this way, both generations are better off – the grandparents never feel that they’ve been taken advantage of and their grown children can save a great deal on childcare expenses by needing paid help only part-time.

Respectful Disagreements

All families have occasional disagreements, but there is no need for grandparents to engage in heated arguments with their grown children over the care of a grandchild. When grandparents set limits, their kids may be a bit taken aback, feeling that their parents’ unwillingness to provide limitless care indicates a lack of caring, but that is rarely the case.

Grandparents may have physical limitations that prevent them from being constantly available to their children and grandchildren, or they may simply prefer to fill some of their spare time with other activities. In either case, they should not feel guilty about establishing childcare guidelines; they have, after all, already raised their own children and have earned the right to spend their time in any manner they wish.

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Your article: "Setting Limits to Grandparents Childcare" is good, but it would be more helpful if you could list some guidelines for parents to follow, to help protect grandparents from being taken advantage of. Thank you for your time.
diana - 2-Sep-11 @ 1:18 PM
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