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article imageWhy we sometimes resent being grandparents

By Viga Boland     May 6, 2007 in Lifestyle
Today, so many young moms who hold a job are relying on grandparents to do the babysitting to save money since daycare is so expensive. But how does the unpaid grandparent feel?
I came across a headline recently about a motion being put in place by a government to pay grandparents an allowance for babysitting services. Unable to track that article, I did come across this one posted by BBC news back in 2002.
The idea sounds like a good one, but now, 5 years later, I'm wondering if that motion ever got passed. Do any of our members living in the UK know if this legislation was put into effect?
In the meantime, while searching for more information, I found the article on which this thread is based. Please check the link. It was published in Grandparents Magazine back in 2006. The writer, a grandmother who is disabled and moved 80 miles away from where her daughter lives, was battling feelings of guilt over not being readily able to babysit her 6 year-old grandson.
As I read her story, her words came home to me with a thud. Elements of her story, while not identical, are so similar to my own situation e.g.
It seems the only time I ever hear from my daughter is when she needs advice, wants to vent about something, or needs a free babysitter.
I still enjoy spending time with him, but don't feel physically up to keeping an active 6 year old for an entire week.
... she calls me up and asks me if I want to "get my Grandson" for a little bit this summer...she said Camp is so expensive and she really needs the money.
Just like this lady, I'm often beseiged with guilt when my older daughter asks me to babysit. Her reason is always the same: she can't find someone; regular daycare is so expensive; or the one that she uses against me should I offer some resistance: "Gee mom, I should think you'd want to spend time with your grand-daughter!"
That one always makes me squirm as I know she's right. But fact is, my grand-daughter, whom I love dearly, is a 4-year-old ball of energy and I'm a disabled 61-year-old who hides her health issues well but feels the strain after several hours with little miss dynamite.
But that's not all that's bothering me with this: my daughter's reasons are always based on "I can't afford regular day-care". Here's the crunch: she and her partner bring home close to $80,000 a year between them. Yes they have a mortgage and are paying off a jeep. But my husband and I are on pensions and our combined income is less than a third of theirs.
So okay. I'm cheap babysitting. Hell, I'm free! But last summer she and her partner moved 45 minutes away from here and she "needs" me to babysit every second weekend when she works on Saturday or Sunday. The partner, a good hard-working guy, often works 7 days a week. So I'm up at 8am and driving to their place for a 9:30 start on my unpaid babysitting job which usually runs till he gets home around 6pm. In the meantime, little miss muffet wants me to take her here and there, buy this and that, and by the time I'm driving back home, worn out, I'm also out of pocket about $30 + gas!
In the meantime, I noticed last week that there's a brand new $1000 HD TV in my daughter's living room. Hubby and I are still watching the news on a 26" 12-year-old relic! Hmmm. Would you say I'm being taken advantage of?
So why do I feel guilty when I'm not keen to babysit for free? Maybe it's not so much guilt as I feel "used", just like the woman in the article attached to this thread.
And given that she and I are probably not isolated cases, maybe it is time for the government or someone to step in and offer babysitting grandparents some compensation. Of course, the alternative is to make daycare more affordable. My daughter says registered daycare centers run $60 a day. That is a lot.
Well I'd take $30 a day. At least it would cover the "buy me this grandma" and "will you buy me an ice-cream grandma" if not the gas I'm using to drive up every two weeks...and it would make me a lot more inclined to say "yes" without squirming when she asks me to babysit. I love my daughter and grand-daughter and it's darn hard to say "no" but I feel the resentment growing no matter how hard I try to bury it.
So what do you other grandmothers say? Are you happy unpaid babysitters? Am I just being a miserable old granny or do I have a case here? Oh sure, it's my fault I let my daughter get away with this in the first place, but I bet I'm not alone.
And what do others think: should grandparents be compensated for their "work" if not by the children themselves then via some legislation? After all, if government funded daycare centers are too expensive for moms and dads, then we are a cheap and more importantly, a loving alternative, aren't we.
Being compensated would sure remove some of the negativity I and others are feeling about being unpaid babysitters.
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