There are many different expectations from grandparents when their kids have their own children. I live in a community where there are a lot of cultures in our midst where it is just expected that the grandparents look after their grandchildren while the parents work. I was always jealous of this arrangement because it’s more natural than sending your kids to daycare, which I have done when I returned to work.
Usually, the parents I know with this arrangement have a multi-family dwelling house that is shared between generations. Grandparents live there, their kids, and their grand kids share a house that has two living quarters to have their own space so they don’t kill each other. This lack of personal space arrangement is suitable for those wanting to save money. In Chinese and Indian cultures in particular, this is an expected arrangement for the parents.
Then there are the other types of cultures in the community – many which are snowbirds. This describes my parents. In case you aren’t familiar with the term, it coined to mean older people that are from the north and head south to places like Arizona, Palm Springs, or Florida in the winter. It has crossed my mind whether they take off to these destinations not only to escape the cold winters, but perhaps to also escape their demanding families. Or maybe they choose to move away to an equally cold climate just to avoid the expectation of involvement in their families lives – who may tend to look at them as just babysitters. They assume that every grandparent would love to spend all their time and energy watching over their kids.
Although I’m sure they value the time together with their grandchildren, there is no denying that they can be taken for granted quite easily, and leaving for a warmer climate for half the year is the perfect way to say “no” to sitting without being unkind.
The reason I wanted to bring this up is to discuss a topic that has come up lately, which is – should you expect your parents be actively involved in their grand children’s lives? I was discussing this with my own parents and they were told by their parents that they already raised their children so they shouldn’t be expected to raise their children’s children. My dad mentioned this as his way of saying we love your kids, but “we have our own lives and want to be able to live it as we please”. They never had a chance to travel much when they were raising us kids so now it was their time to be free from child responsibilities. Besides, they thought daycare was great for kids since it allowed them to socialize with other children as well.
My personal thought on the subject is that grandparents are often much older when the grandchildren arrive. So much so, that it is hard for them to physically care for them and keep up with their activity level. To expect them to care for your children in ill health could also be considered selfish.
Then there are those who believe that grandparents should be involved in all their child’s activities or they are just not good grandparents. I know a grandparent who still works a full time job and one of her children still has the expectation that she should be babysitting her kids just because she is grandma. I should mention that not only is she employed full time, but she is a grandma to 10 grand kids, going on 11 soon. If the same expectation held for all her children, then she would not be able to sustain all that was demanded of her. Even grandparents need down time. It sadly is one of the reasons that she is ostracized from this daughter.
There are many thoughts on the best way to raise children and many think grandparents should be a key part of the picture. I would love to hear your thoughts