Posts Tagged ‘grandparents’

A third of families use grandparents for childcare, according to the charity Grandparents Plus, often causing hardship for grandparents who retire early or cut their working hours in order to help out. The charity calls for these effort to be ‘recognised financially’ by the government, since free childcare often allows parents to go to work and pay tax where they wouldn’t otherwise be able. It seems only fair doesn’t it? The government encourages mums back to work, but often its not worth it if they have to pay childcare out of their wages.

The Benefits Minister Helen Goodman is reported to have said “However, we’ve made it very clear that we only expect parents to do this during school hours or during the hours they are entitled to free childcare. We absolutely do not expect grandparents to subsidise this work.” What a joke! Many mums of school age kids I know are looking for that elusive ‘school hours’ job and believe me, Ms Goodman, they are not easy to find. It is only having grandparents able and willing to do the school run, or a few hours of after school care that makes it possible to work.

Putting all that aside though, relying on grandparents for child care can be fraught with problems. My own mother doesn’t live close enough to provide childcare on a regular basis, but she does either come here or take our girls at various times to allow me to do work related things. Trouble is, I have a pretty complicated relationship with my mother (who doesn’t?!) and spent my 20s putting some distance, both physical and psychological, between us. All that has gone to hell since I had kids though and I have come to rely on her in ways I would rather not. As is so often true as a parent, I feel I have compromised what I want by choosing what works for my family.

I think many mums are similarly stuck between a rock and a hard place: use their mother (or often worse, the mother-in-law!) for childcare with all those strings attached or not work at all. Even if you have a good relationship with your mum, things can get strained. Its not long ago the news was full of witterings about grandparents contributing to childhood obesity through overindulgence. A friend of mine recently picked her child up from grandma with bruises all up his arm as he had been ‘difficult’. What can she do? She relies on grandma in order to do her job, but she can’t tolerate her beating her child. It’s a minefield.


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Purely anecdotal, of course, but my experience is not this. Instead I find that in the process of trying to tempt my granddaughter with tasty morsels most of them end up in my mouth.

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