Should Grandparents Be Paid for Child Care?

November 9, 2015

Every parent wants their child to receive the best care possible. If child care facilities aren’t working for you, can grandparents help out? It is normal to have mixed feelings if you are considering your elderly parent to be your #1 child care provider. Providing everyday child care is very different than occasionally acting as the babysitter. Let’s explore some reasons why parents may or may not choose to pay grandparents for long-term child care or babysitting services.

Reasons to Pay Grandparents for Child Care

If you have a child and work a full-time job, you know how expensive traditional child care facilities can be. Leaving the kids in the care of a grandparent may seem like the best arrangement, financially and emotionally. However, understand how this commitment may impact the quality of life for your elderly parent. Here are some lifestyle and financial factors to consider when asking this from a grandparent.

  • Current Employment and/or Social Activities – Consider your elderly parents’ schedule: do they have a full or part-time job? Do they participate in many social activities? If your elderly parent has to make major changes to their own schedule or give up important social activities, it may be necessary to pay for their time and help. Committing to full-time child care may also take away from time they spent maintaining their home, cooking healthy meals and exercising. Be sure your elderly parent has the capability to continue a healthy lifestyle for themselves, which may require being paid.
  • Accepting Payment for Benefits to Children –Think about how your child would benefit by being in the loving care of their grandparent. Being cared for by somebody who truly loves you and wants to give you personalized attention sounds too valuable to monetize. If your elderly parent won’t accept payment by money, think of other gifts and perks you can offer them.
  • Payment for Additional Expenses – Child care is stressful, hard work and usually incurs other expenses. If you feel your elderly parent is underestimating the financial cost of their child care, help them build a list of activities and necessities they need money for.
  • Emotional Consideration – Sometimes, grandparents may feel taken advantage of if they’re expected to watch the kids for free. Have an open and honest conversation with them about the pros and cons of the situation. To ensure they feel valued, it may be worth compensating them to watch their grandchildren.

Reasons to Not Pay Grandparents for Child Care

Some grandparents wouldn’t even think of being paid to spend time with their grandkids. They see that time as giving them an opportunity to bond with and have a direct impact on the child’s life.

Some grandparents find a renewed sense of purpose. They may feel as though they are still at the center of their family and are able to contribute. This alone can be worth much more than money.

If grandparents insist on watching their grandchildren at no charge, you may feel uncomfortable pushing back. However, ask yourself the following questions before accepting their offer:

  • Could lack of compensation eventually influence them to change their mind? How will this change affect my child?
  • Is my elderly parent making a willing commitment? Do they feel pressured to help me at no cost?
  • What is the impact of the activities they’re giving up in order to baby sit? What burden will those sacrifices place on them?
  • Is there an alternate plan in place to cover additional expenses grandparents may incur such as transportation, meals or entertainment? Be sure to provide a schedule of expenses to your elderly parent to avoid unnecessary spending.
  • Does my job ever require overtime? Plan ahead so that grandparents can easily deal with unexpected delays, like overtime or getting stuck in traffic.

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