Parenting | Talking to Grandparents about Childminding

window-932760_640Many parents have relied upon grandparents’ support to raise their children, both now and in the past. Their help can relieve pressure in many cases. However, in some cases it can also increase the pressure. Parents can feel gratitude to grandparents for their time and efforts but if they cannot speak honestly with them, for fear of upsetting them and losing their valuable help, this can lead to challenging relationships between parents and grandparents. With childcare options so few, due to costs, parents need grandparents more than ever.

What can parents and grandparents do to support each other in the care of children? Here are ’10 ways to’ ensure happy, positive relationships between parents, grandparents and children:

  1. The first step in this relationship is to establish it in a business-like way. Keep it a little different to when you call to visit grandparents. Agree the days and times.
  1. Raise the issue of money. Do not assume that grandparents will care for children for free. They may not want to be paid but they may not want to be out of pocket either.
  2. Agree on what children are allowed to eat. Will you provide meals and snacks or will you give money for the cost of the food?
  3. Respect the days and times you agree upon. Do not be late. You would not be late for a minder outside of the family so show the same regard for grandparents.
  4. Grandparents have other things to do. When extra days come up look for other options. Do not expect grandparents to step in all of the time.
  5. Reward grandparents as much as you can: have them over for dinner; take them places; sit with them when you know they need company; remember birthdays and key dates; buy them a cake or flowers when they least expect it. People like to feel valued, just because they are family doesn’t mean you don’t need to thank them.
  6. Talk with grandparents about behaviour. At times grandparents can be too strict and at times too lenient. Talk with them about what you do. Help them to plan for challenging days. Sit the children down with the grandparents and talk openly about what will happen when there are behavioural challenges. Do not leave grandparents to work it out alone and then complain about how they do it. Support them.
  7. Grandparents often give sweet treats and this is fine occasionally but when they are in the role of childminder they will need to provide healthy food. Talk with them about how it will affect the children’s energy for school, for homework, for play, for sleep. Grandparents want what is best for children as much as you do. Help them put rewards in place that are simple and easy to follow. Help children to know that, on the days grandparents are in charge, they do not get the same treats as on visits with grandparents.
  8. Grandparents will need days off. Ask them to give you notice so you can find alternative childcare options. Talk about holidays in advance and work out your own leave around grandparents’ own plans.
  9. It takes a lot of people to raise a child. It is very important to make friends and to get to know other parents in order to build up a network. The only way to work and parent is to have a variety of options around childcare. There will be times it will cost more when the key people cannot help out, but this is the joy of parenting. Children will grow-up and one day childcare will no longer be an issue.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212