In today’s world, most parents work outside the home and must arrange for someone to care for their children while they are away. In some families, it is the grandparents who do the caregiving and as long as both generations of adults are respectful toward one another, this can be an ideal situation.
Of course, when difficulties arise, it can be awkward for either party to approach the other with their concerns.
One Family’s Story
Bess and Jack are retired and now spend most of their weekdays taking care of their three young grandchildren while their son and his wife are at work. Bess has been caring for the kids since the oldest was born almost seven years ago, and Jack, recently retired, has been on board for the past few months.
Overall, they have found the experience to be a happy one, affording them the opportunity to be hands-on caregivers for three of their very favourite people.
As Bess says, “We’ve had a few misunderstandings, sure, but we wouldn’t trade this time with our grandchildren for anything in the world.”
The Importance of Respect
As with all relationships, trust and respect in providing daycare for grandchildren are the keys to making things run smoothly. It can be easy for grandparents to overstep their bounds when it comes to the grandchildren, but most times, they are not purposefully trying to cause discord.
Before grandchildren are placed into the care of their grandparents, it is wise for both generations of the adults to sit down and respectfully discuss the details of the arrangement. Bess stresses the importance of this step, something she had not done until she’d been caring for her first grandson for a few months.
It is not unlikely that parents and grandparents may have different ideas about some of the specifics, so topics like eating guidelines, napping schedules, and appropriate disciplinary measures are best covered in advance to avoid unnecessary conflict later. As Bess says, “Better to set the important standards right off, and then you can deal with little things as they arise.”
Bess mentioned that while they haven’t had anything that would be called a true confrontation about the care of the grandchildren, there have been a few occasions when her daughter-in-law has expressed some discontent.
“Once, I allowed our grandsons to watch a video in the afternoon while the baby was sleeping, and then later heard about it from my daughter-in-law. She wants to limit their ‘screen time,’ but I know that they’d watched that same film at home.”
When asked how she handled the situation, Bess relied, “I nodded and kept quiet. It was not worth arguing over something so silly.”
Bess is a smart woman.
Long after they’re grown and on their own, children will remember how they spent the days of their childhoods.
Keeping this in mind, grandparents who provide regular care for their grandkids need to be sure that they engage the children in positive and enriching activities that build strong bonds between the generations.
Many adults happily reminisce about their relationships with their own grandparents as these relationships are often less complicated than the ones with their parents.
Jack and Bess are acutely aware of the importance of creating a happy environment for their grandchildren. The main reason that Jack has chosen to retire is so that he can spend time with his grandkids.
“I think he was a little jealous,” Bess says of her husband. “He heard all of the stories about the fun I was having with our grandchildren and he wanted to join in.”
Now, with both grandparents on hand, Bess and Jack’s grandchildren are able to enjoy lots of happy times, whether they are at home or on the short outings that they like to take.
Really, it seems that all three generations are benefiting from the arrangement. The parents are comfortable at work, knowing that their children are in loving hands, the children are in an environment where they are adored, and Bess & Jack feel blessed to have been afforded such quality time with the children.
“Most of our friends see their grandkids only occasionally, but we see ours almost every day. And for that, we are grateful.”