Should Grandparents Be Expected To Babysit?

Grandparents can be a young family’s greatest secret weapon, especially if they are willing to step in and occasionally or even frequently help care for the kids.  Whether it’s another sick day you don’t have to take off work or maintaining monthly, perhaps even weekly date nights, the grands do come in handy.

But it’s not always a marriage made in heaven when the in-laws (or the out-laws) watch the kids.  Often generations differ in what they feel is an appropriate amount of sugar or screen time; on bed times or discipline practices.  And some grandparents may feel taken advantage of for their unpaid care taking.  After all, they already raised their own kids, right?

There are wide differences in how each family operates with regard to grandparents helping to care for their grand babies.  Some are deeply involved, shuttling kids to school, babysitting during the summer and attending every little league game and ballet recital.  But others are not so hands-on, are busy with their own pursuits or may be living at a great distance.  There is no one right way to grand parent and each family will eventually come into it’s own rhythm by establishing a few boundaries on both sides of the equation.

Encouraging older family members to actively participate in the lives of their grand kids will benefit the whole family; passing on skills and knowledge accumulated in a long life.  In return grandparents can have special relationships with their grandchildren and stay active and engaged through the intergenerational connection.  Each age group has something to offer the other.  Grandparents have time that many busy multi-tasking parents may not find to easy to spare.  And by discussing expectations and roles in advance, the transition between the way Mom and Dad do things and what happens when Grandpa is in charge can be made smoother.

Even though there will be bumps in the road involving grandparents in you children’s life will be worth the effort.  Parents should, however, never take for granted that their own parents will be be built-in babysitters every time the need arises.  Respect and consideration will go a long way to creating an extended family dynamic that works for everyone.  And it never hurts to have a couple of extra experienced hands to have your back.

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