Sunday, July 20, 2008


To a family with young children, nothing is more helpful than having supportive grandparents who are there to help as babysitters and care-givers. Young mothers, in particular, have the option of returning to work knowing that their little ones are in safe hands. Those who can’t afford to leave their children with a babysitter or at a day-care centre can always turn to their parents.

While most grandparents are ready to help out if they are able, there are some who feel they have paid their dues and done their duty as parents. It’s time their children did theirs. Says one grandmother, 62, “No more changing diapers and dealing with toddler tantrums for me. At my age, it’s too stressful. Sure, if there’s an emergency, I’ll be there. I don’t mind playing with my grandchildren or visiting them, but hands-on babysitting? No thank you."

There are many who share the same sentiments.

“My children and grandchildren don’t show me enough respect. They take me for granted, and can be quite rude to me at times. They don’t treat me as part of the family.”

“My husband and I have eight grandchildren from our three children. Babysitting for all our children leaves us with little time for our own activities.”

“I have to pay for my own transport whenever I go over to my daughter-in-law’s house to babysit the children. A small allowance would be most welcomed since I babysit for her on a regular basis.”

“Our son leaves his 2 year-old and 4 year-old at our house before he goes to work. By the time he picks up the children after work at 7.00pm, my husband and I are exhausted. Sometimes when my son has a lot of work at the office, he comes as late as 9.00pm.”

“My husband is 72, and I’m 68. Physically, we can’t keep up with our boisterous grandsons. Besides, I have high blood pressure.”

“My daughter and I don’t see eye-to-eye on how to bring up the children, especially when it comes to discipline, food and education. This has caused some tension in our relationship.”

On the other hand, there are doting grandparents who do a great job minding their grandchildren. They are also fortunate to have children who are very appreciative of their help. When both sides adopt an open and trusting relationship with reasonable compromising, they create the ideal home environment for the little ones.

Bulbir, 67, and grandson, Ajit, 2

With young parents busy at work, grandfather of five, Bulbir Singh, 67, believes that grandparents should get involved in nurturing their grandchildren. They should take on the responsibility of teaching their grandchildren about God, about values and ethics that will stand them in good stead all their lives.

“If we don't, who else can and will? We should make whatever time we have with the children count. Spend quality time with them, like reading to them, playing with them, or assisting them with their home work. And when you teach, do it with love and concern.”

I consider myself a hands-on grandma. I enjoy being with my grandchildren, Max, 8, Allie, 5, Hana, 4 and Reiya, 2. They are a source of joy, fun and laughter for me. Children grow up so fast. Before you know it, they are preteens. When they start having their own friends and activities, they won’t have as much time to spend with us. That’s why I value each moment I have with them now. My grandchildren keep me feeling young with their unconditional love and boundless energy.

Dr Benjamin Spock, world renowned pediatrician and best-selling author of Baby and Child Care, tells grandparents to take note. No matter how convinced you are that your way is the best, it should be understood that, ultimately, the responsibility and the right to make decisions belong solely to the parents.

As grandparents, we should know when to offer our advice, and when to stay on the sidelines. Through trial and error, young parents will learn, just like we did when we were young parents ourselves, the best ways to bring up the children.

Mandela celebrating his 90th birthday with his grandchildren

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