Common problems with grandparents providing childcare
For many separated parents, grandparents are a lifeline. They are often the first choice when it comes to childcare, the go-to for practical advice, and a sympathetic ear for when times get tough.
Keeping childcare within the family has its benefits for other reasons too. It can be less expensive, and if the grandparents live locally, it can be easier to get last-minute care.
However, there are some challenges which come hand-in-hand with this childcare option.
Before getting granny or granddad to care for the kids, NannyJobs.org, an online jobs board for childminders, suggests you think about the following:
What type of relationship do each of you want?
Defining the relationship can make it work in the long term. One of you might just want an informal arrangement, where it feels more like the grandparent is visiting than providing formal care.
The other may want something more formal put in place – almost like an employer/employee relationship.
Discuss what works best for both of you. Having different expectations may cause unnecessary conflict which can weaken your relationship.
Where will the grandparent provide care?
For some parents, it’s important that the child is cared for in their own home. However, grandparents may prefer the child be dropped off and picked up at their home.
Will there be payment?
Exchanging money can alter the dynamic of your relationship and make it feel more like an employer/employee relationship. Think about the arrangement: is the care simply part of providing support to the family? Or, is it going above and beyond what is normally expected? Grandparents may be giving up paid work to provide childcare. Either way, you should talk about whether there will be any compensation or cover of costs such as food or trips out.
How long will the arrangement last?
Talk about how long you expect to be putting your child in the grandparent’s care – and make sure to communicate with them if plans suddenly change or you need them to provide care for a longer period of time.
How will you address problems?
There are bound to be disagreements from time to time. Be clear about what you expect in terms of disciplining your child, diet, nap time etc. This can be tricky if the arrangement if very informal – grandparents can feel it is their role to spoil the grandchild. And prepare to negotiate the arrangement.
Grandparents play an important role in a child’s life. Our article on the role of grandparents during the separation process will make great reading.