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Grandparenting expectations

Posted Sep 22 2008 4:36pm

When I first had kids, my parents were older and they both worked, so I never really had any expectations of them providing child care for us.

Granted, at times I wished that I had the kind of parents that could/would take the kids overnight so we could go out of town or something, but I didn’t. That’s just the way it was.

However, there are parents with expectations regarding the role their own parents play when they have kids, and sometimes those expectations don’t line up with what grandparents are able or willing to give:

These are people who have raised their own children and often looked after an ageing parent. If they had plans to spend their twilight years painting, golfing, learning to salsa or seeing the world, they’ve had to postpone them. They are under pressure because of this new expectation that they will help out their children.

What are a grandparent’s duties? What are their rights? Should grandparents be expected to provide free care night and day? Should they pay for all expenses when the grandchildren are in their care?

Most of the time people can work these things out, but in some cases, it’s such a tough subject that organizations such as grannynet.co.uk advocates a grandparents’ charter of rights in order to make a childcare arrangement work for both parties.

Though I’m not a grandparent, I imagine that most people look forward to helping out with grandchildren when and how they are able, but no one really signs on to be free labor at an adult child’s beck and call. Similarly, the new parents may have a vision of how a grandparent should act, and when something different occurs, they feel that they aren’t getting the type of help or support they need from the grandparents.

Like many interpersonal situations, the key seems to be communicating expectations up front so there are no misunderstandings.

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