On air: Is it fair for grandparents to bring up their grandchildren?

It’s a growing phenomenon here in the UK and the western world. Mums go back to work after having children and instead of putting them in child care, it’s the grandparents who look after the kids. Karnie put up a post about this earlier in the week and it’s got you talking……

Take a look at this story in the US – 2.5 million grandparents are the primary caregivers.

And this one in the UK where grandmother – Lorna Edwards, who co-founded this website with her daughter Verity Gill, said they hoped to build up a picture of what grandparents think is acceptable regarding childcare

So is this a case of parents abdicating their responsibilities? Is it an abuse of a relationship to even ask grandparents to care for grandkids? Or do we have to be realistic, with the pressures of modern day life do we have accept this is the changing face of parenting?

Let’s not forget parts of the world where it’s not the choice of the grandparents to be the primary carer. In this article you can read about the South African grandmothers raising Aids orphans.

So should grandparents be left holding the baby?

108 Responses to “On air: Is it fair for grandparents to bring up their grandchildren?”

  1. September 12, 2008 at 14:14

    My mother has a pretty big hand in helping my sister who is 24 and her husband out with their two children.
    I think it is an integral part of the childs development and building of a strong family to have grandparents actively involved in the childs upbringing. Especially with younger parents and/or first time parents. I am not a fan at all of grandparents being a primary caregiver, but I think its very healthy for the grandparents and children to have a strong bond and relationship.

  2. 2 Julie P
    September 12, 2008 at 14:27

    My parents helped with my sister with caring for her first child after the father abandon her and their son. I also played in a role with this as well. When she remarried and had children with her second husband our parents insisted on helping my sister and her husband with the two children they had. It remained that way until they graduated from high school and started college. All parties wanted this and all benefited from these relationships.

  3. 3 steve
    September 12, 2008 at 14:27

    If the grandparents allow themselves to be taken advantage of, then perhaps it’s what they want? So long as the grandparents are willingly doing it, I think this is better than day care. I was basically raised by strangers, and hence I’m not very close to my parents. At least my grandparents were relatives.

    I do have problems with when the mother (usually in single mother situations) completely defers all parenting responsibilities to her parents, this just enables her to escape from her responsibilities. So they basically can go on living a lifestyle they shouldn’t be having (ie partying, continuing to be irresponsible) instead of doing the parenting. YOu can’t go to the club if you are taking care of your kid. I don’t think grandparents should take over in that situation because it only enables the mother to continue her irresponsibility. I’ve seen this happen many, many times here in the US.

  4. 4 1430a
    September 12, 2008 at 14:28

    Hello everyone,
    Well i never got a chance to be left with my grandparents as most of the time i was out of my country(and away from them).
    But yes at times it may be fair for grandparents to bring up their grandchildren but only under some conditions(when the mother is sick,no guardian or some other unovodable circumstances).but a mother leaving her children to a grandparent because she has a ‘kitty party’ to attend is realy not acceptable.
    The another thing that i think should be mentioned is the fact that grandparents are not supposed to raise their grandchildren(but looking after them for a few hours is accepted).

  5. 5 Angela in Washington
    September 12, 2008 at 14:29

    I think it depends on the situation. The grandparents have already raised their children and sometimes they are put in a situation to raise their children’s kids.

    I would never want to put my mother in that situation but most grandparents would rather raise their grandkids than have them go into foster care or raised by parents that don’t care.

    I commend grandparents and parents because raising a child is hard, especially as one gets older. Therefore I think it is hard to say whether it is fair or not.

  6. 6 Angela in Washington
    September 12, 2008 at 14:30


    I completely agree with you concerning irresponsible single mothers defering their responsibilities to their parents.

  7. 7 steve
    September 12, 2008 at 14:32

    @ Angela

    I used to date one, and I think it was probably the most responsible thing for her to do given how irresponsible she was. Her kid could turn out to be a complete disaster in life if he follows his mother’s example.

  8. 8 Angela in Washington
    September 12, 2008 at 14:39


    I commend you. I know girls like that but after they had a kid and did not change, I stopped associating with them. They were good people but their priorities were different.

  9. 9 steve
    September 12, 2008 at 14:44

    @ Angela

    I question if someone can be a “good person” if they chose “fun” over their own kids, who didn’t ask to be born.

  10. 10 Angela in Washington
    September 12, 2008 at 14:47


    That is true. The reason I no longer assocaite with those girls.

  11. 11 steve
    September 12, 2008 at 15:01

    Here’s an example where the grandparents should be raising the children, presuming they are not as bad as the mother is:


  12. 12 Freddie in Lusaka@Zambia
    September 12, 2008 at 15:09

    My aged graparents (Him 85, Her 80) have been supportive directly in helping me raise my five siblings since my parents passed-on 8-years ago. In our society it has become common place for Grands to play mom and dad yet again to their grandkids.

    well, with the experienced and visible hand for a guide, my siblings have all but gone and graduated in University. i am a very proud grandson, i guess i speak for the departed as well.

    Grands are strained financially, but experience has demonstrated that they find pleasure in the whole undertaking.

  13. 13 Angela in Washington
    September 12, 2008 at 15:15

    I heard about that women on the way to work. The fact that she made her own children ride in the trunk was crazy. She is the type of woman that needs to spend some time in an asylum or some kind of clinic, to teach her what most people learned in school.

  14. 14 Katharina in Ghent
    September 12, 2008 at 15:16

    It’s one thing to ask the grandparents to help out once in a while, so that the parents can have some quality time as a couple or because the child is sick and the parents have to work, but it’s another thing to make the grandparents raise your child or children and it’s not fair at all. Your parents had a hard enough time raising you, and the sigh when you finally moved out and they could have their life back is still echoing in their homes.

    Your children are your responsibility, and except for severe circumstances the parents should live up to it and raise their children themselves.

  15. 15 steve
    September 12, 2008 at 15:19

    @ Angela

    She belongs in jail. If she had been a male, she would have lost custody of the kids had she put her kids in the trunk of her car. Now she buys alcohol for kids not her own? Imagine what she does to her own kids.. You only enable behavior like that by not giving criminal punishment.

  16. 16 selena in Canada
    September 12, 2008 at 15:26

    The woman needs help! She is not a criminal. Putting her in jail will only compound an already serious problem.

    Hardheartedness begets hardheartedness! Never forget that! No emotional problem has ever been solved by punishment.

  17. 17 steve
    September 12, 2008 at 15:29

    @ Selena

    When you break the law, you are a criminal. Passengers in cars must be in seats, with seatbelts on. Her kids were in the drunk. That was a crime on its own, let alone child endangerment, which is another crime. This time, she bought alcohol for minors, another crime, and contributing to the deliquency of minors and child endangerment are also crimes. How can you say she’s not a criminal?

  18. September 12, 2008 at 15:31

    No emotional problem has ever been solved by punishment.
    Yea, but its so much easier to lock people up and punish them rather than treat them. (See: US imprisonment statistics VS the rest of the world). It’s working rather well, no?


  19. 19 steve
    September 12, 2008 at 15:33

    @ Brett

    If she had been a man, would you think he has a problem rather than is a criminal?

  20. September 12, 2008 at 15:37

    Working a dream, Brett! LOL ūüėĮ

    Of course grand parents should help out – Jasus, many want to help because those kids are the grand kids.

    There was a time when the nuclear family included grand parents – something very lacking today.

  21. September 12, 2008 at 15:39

    The African family is tightly knot in such a way that makes it easy for family members like grand mothers to easily step into the role of a baby sitter for her grand child. It is very common place for that to happen and is currently holding sway. I see nothing wrong in giving the role of child care of my child to my mother.

  22. September 12, 2008 at 15:39

    If she had been a man, would you think he has a problem rather than is a criminal?

    Absolutely. What equipment either of them is packing or lacking doesn’t change a thing here.

  23. 23 steve
    September 12, 2008 at 15:41

    @ Brett

    I beg to differ. Had it been a man, the responses would have been “throw the book at him!”

  24. 24 Anthony
    September 12, 2008 at 15:43

    I’ve noticed a lot of grandparents LOVE to take care of them, even though they won’t admit it. You hit menopause, cry cuz you can’t have kids anymore, then pow, a baby you can raise as your own!!!

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  25. September 12, 2008 at 15:46

    @ Steve:

    I beg to differ. Had it been a man, the responses would have been ‚Äúthrow the book at him!‚ÄĚ
    If she had been a man, would you think he has a problem rather than is a criminal?

    You asked what I thought, I told you. I wasn’t speaking for anyone but myself.

  26. 26 selena in Canada
    September 12, 2008 at 15:46

    Laws are made by humans (mostly men) with no understanding of what they are doing. Laws are meant to keep people in check, not show them any compassion.

    When you get in trouble, Steve, give me a call.

  27. 27 steve
    September 12, 2008 at 15:50

    @ Selena

    I don’t get in trouble, so that call won’t be necessary. Let alone do I put my kids in the trunk of my car, putting them at risk of bodily harm, or buy vodka for 13 year olds.

    Is there anything that should be treated as a crime? Even rapists and pedophiles have mental problems. Do we give rapists and pedophiles compassion? Should we?

  28. 28 blacklion
    September 12, 2008 at 15:52

    Well, in most parts of Africa, close extended family ties and multi-generational homes are the norm i.e. grandparents, parents and kids plus other relatives living together. Grandparents play a significant role in their children and grandchildren’s daily lives and providing childcare is seen as both a joy and duty for grandparents.
    Childcare in rural Africa has always been provided primarily by grandparents and other relatives i.e. women go to the farm with their husbands and leave the weaned kids at home with older folks who can’t work in the fields anymore. The urban elites in Africa hire nannies or import the grandparents from the village to help.

  29. 29 Angela in Washington
    September 12, 2008 at 15:53


    I think what the woman did was disgusting but I think there is a difference between rapist, pedophiles and a neglectful mother.

  30. 30 rash
    September 12, 2008 at 16:00

    one of the biggest disadvantage that i think of grand parents taking in charge of grand kids is that the grand parents might not understand the child. and if they try to teach the small lessions of life to the child, it could happen that the child might not accept the ideology of the grand parents. the misunderstanding becomes bigger loosing contact( in extream cases) therefore the grand parents being unable to do their job of educating the child.

    the person who knows the child the best is the mother who bore the child fot 9 months, so if the mom can’t allocate time to give the child a better future, who else can complete the mission?

    and for those who don’t care, why did they bother bringing the child to life?

  31. 31 Alex in Nairobi
    September 12, 2008 at 16:04

    I wouldn’t approve of grandparents raising their grandkids. I believe the grandparents have done their work by raising their children and must not be burdened further. I dont know what happens in other countries (tell me) but home here, lots of unmarried and divorced women burden their parents with their children. Worse still, not all of these “parents” care to support the grandparents nursing their children. what could be more depressing to a poor old grandma than to see a barrowload of young grandkids go to bed hungry? And by the way, I’m yet to see another animal (save for man), leave its dam to tender its young ones.Correct me

  32. 32 selena in Canada
    September 12, 2008 at 16:07

    Alas Steve, I have heard your words “I don’t get in trouble” before from people who later got into trouble through no fault of their own.

    Don’t think that because you think you are lily white that others always will. When you judge others, don’t do it through what you think is a safe place. No place is ever safe.

    The stories I could tell…

  33. September 12, 2008 at 16:09

    This is the reality of the low wage industrial/ service based economy that also has social programs that promote conception and child birth at the lowest finical and educational levels.

    Grandparents are going to raise two types of children. The children of the “two income” family that have to work to survive. They also raise the children of the sef-centered irresponsible parents that have kids because it is fashionable, profitable, and acceptable.

    If grandparents raising grandchildren are considered “a problem”, then solving these two situations require two different approaches.

  34. 34 steve
    September 12, 2008 at 16:10


    I didn’t get arrested for having my kids in the drunk of my car or buying 13 year olds vokda, which are crimes. I’m judging her because she’s a criminal and only recieved a slap on the wrist, which just enabled her.

  35. September 12, 2008 at 16:18

    On air: Is it fair for grandparents to bring up their grandchildren?

    If I could just remind you – the conversation piece is supposed to be about the above.

    Let try to keep on topic, please.


    Will (Moderator)

  36. 36 Julie P
    September 12, 2008 at 16:27


    Thank you. I was just thinking the same thing.

  37. 37 jesse
    September 12, 2008 at 16:45

    why not?it’s neither a crime or a taboo.in fact in africa it a thing of pride to always have your grand children around you.

  38. 38 selena in Canada
    September 12, 2008 at 17:12

    Yes, I would probably have to say that it is unfair for grandparents to feel compelled to raise their grandchildren.

    Having said that, sometimes there is no choice because the majority of families needs two incomes in order to survive. Child care is not always available, especially in rural communities.

    In the best of world’s, a mother or father would be able to look after his/her children without having to worry about money. Sadly that is not the case.

    The Women’s Movement was a dismal failure in that regard. Like the war in Iraq, the organizers failed to take into account the consequences of their actions and plan accordingly.

  39. 39 Luz Ma from Mexico
    September 12, 2008 at 17:13

    My husband and I work in very demanding jobs.

    My mom take care of our two daughters (7 years old and 3 years old). She picks them up at school and daycare, she stays with them during the afternoons, she helps my older daughter with her homework, and takes them to swimming classes.

    All of us are happy with the arrangement. My mom loves to take care of my daughters. My daughters love to be with her grandma, and they like her house because it has a big backyard where they can play. My husband and I have peace of mind because we know our daughters are in good hands. And as a bonus, instead of paying a nanny, I give my mom the money to make ends meet. She doesn¬īt have a job and her income is only enough for her basic needs, so she is happy with the extra cash.

    I try to not abuse my mom¬īs availability. I only ask her to take care of my daughters on weekdays and I am always asking her if she needs something. If they misbehave, my mom calls me and I take care of the situation, so my daughters know my mom and I are in the same page.

    I am very grateful to have her, she is the best caregiver my daughters could have. And for sure, the relationship they have with her grandma is quite special and close. I cannot ask for a better childcare arrangement ūüôā

  40. 40 Jennifer
    September 12, 2008 at 17:16

    I think it depends on what you consider bringing up. I don’t think it’s really fair if grandparents have their grandchildren 24/7. On the other hand, many grandparents I know really enjoy being with their grandkids and they actually ask for them to come over. I am sure if I had kids, my mom would do the same.

    Another thing to consider though including the health and well-being of the grandparents. On one hand, keeping up with their grandkids and feeling connected to them and their family helps them from feeling pushed aside and left out. On the other, some grandparents may have health issues that make it difficult to keep up with young kids. If that’s the case, the parents should not force the grandparents to take a prominent role in the care of their grandkids. In cases where the parents are unfit, it’s wonderful that grandparents step up and care for their grandkids for their stability.

  41. 41 Kaidala Danappiah
    September 12, 2008 at 17:19

    Please take time to read the follwoing story. I think this says it all. Mothers can be either full-time or part-time, grandmothers are meant to be there full-time. If they are not there, then there must be something wrong somewhere.

    The Grandson Effect____a short story
    My grandmother, in her prime was a real time athlete, who could do many physically demanding household jobs at will.  At 70, she recovered from a serious leg fracture purely because of her physical stamina.  Although she was not even half of what she used to be, her vigour was much more than an average Indian woman half her age.  All these stopped a couple of months ago, when she suffered a stroke at the age of 90.
    She was admitted to a local hospital. The doctors were astonished to see her quick response to the treatment.  She was discharged after five days of observation.

  42. September 12, 2008 at 17:29

    In the past, when the extended family was a common phenomena, children could be taken care of by almost all members of the family, especially their mothers who were just housewives. Today, many working mothers find it difficult to combine childcare with their work. It isn’t affordable for all parents to have nannies for their children because of the cost and the space at home. So some resort to their own parents to take care of them in their absence.

    If grandparents feel happy to take care of their grandchildren, they should be left with them. Grandparents feel their grandchildren an extension of themselves. For some it’s a new opportunity to raise children again after their own have grown up. But naturally, children should remain close to their own parents who shouldn’t leave all the burden on the grandparents.

  43. 43 Dinka Aliap, Kampala
    September 12, 2008 at 17:31

    YES. In our Africans traditonal societies and in present, it was/is very difficults for someone who doesnot have grandparent to get marriage for either GROOM /BRIDE. Therefore grandparents have a crucial roles to brings their children together alongside with their babes despites some of these grandparent compete in domestics affairs wiht their younger people.

  44. 44 Lauren
    September 12, 2008 at 17:33

    It really depends on the situation. Is it abdicating a parent‚Äôs responsibility when they take their child to daycare or hire a babysitter? If the grandparents are willing to look after the kids while the parents are at work, there’s nothing wrong with that.

    In the cases where the grandparents are awarded custody, whether it’s fair or not can boil down to the willingness and abilities of the grandparents to care for a child. If the parents are dead, in jail, mentally or physically unable to care for a child, wouldn’t it be better if the kids went with family members? If the family members don’t have the means to care for a child permanently, that’s a different story. Financial situations must be considered when awarding custody.

  45. 45 Zainab
    September 12, 2008 at 17:36

    Hello all,
    Cool.. a good topic ( finally away from politics)
    First of all let me say that I’m a little bit astonished! to find the “grandparents bringing up the grandchildren phenomenon ” in the western world.. i never thought that there is such a thing in the west.

    Well here in the Arab world this is a very common thing. The grandparents willingly choose to raise their grandchildren. It’s not because the mother is out for work, but only for the whole family is used to live in a big house where the son (or sons) are getting married and residing in the same family house. so it’s naturally the grandchildren will be brought up by both the mother and the grandma.

    In this case it will be UNFAIR for the kids to be brought up by many parents… look at it three different generations.. means different ideas, thoughts, behaviors, lifestyles… etc. how can it be possible for the kid to decide … whose word he/she must listen to? the mother from one side and the grandma from the other … how many trouble occur cuz of that.
    I’m not against helping the mother, but I’m against taking her role again.

    yours truly
    Zainab from Iraq

  46. 46 kabardey in merzifon t√ľrkiye
    September 12, 2008 at 17:45

    It is a great chance to have grandparents for the children that have working parents.They will have the chance to be bringed up with the same culture and way of life of the family if they have caring grandparents at home. Otherwise, if they are cared by somebody else, at the most important times of the life when they establish their characters by just copying what they see around, they will have sth much different than the core values of the family.
    Another important thing to take into consideration is the lifelong, undisputable life experience of the grandparents. Although,in this information century, way of life changes at high speeds and it leaves great gaps between the generations, the core values are all same for all times and nations and never change. At this point grandparents with their full experience should take the stage and bring up the kids with the core values of humanity.

  47. 47 kabardey in merzifon t√ľrkiye
    September 12, 2008 at 17:54

    Sorry I missed the point.
    Yes, it is fair if they are willing to, and it will make positive contributions.
    No, it is unfair if they dont want to.

  48. 48 Roberto
    September 12, 2008 at 17:59

    It’s a growing phenomenon here in the UK and the western world. Mums go back to work after having children and instead of putting them in child care, it’s the grandparents who look after the kids.

    ———– The only modern phenomenon is the growing numbers of working moms and childcare centers.

    Grandparents have traditionally been intimately involved in the raising of children, Often the parents have lived in the grandparent’s house starting out, or the grandparents lived lived close by, and widowed grannies moved in with parents and cared for children when still physically able.

    There has however been a disturbing trend of drug riddled parents unable to care for their children, particulary hard hit in the US black community during the crack epidemic, elements of which still exist. Custody often goes the the grandparents or they are shipped to foster homes.

    I remember as a youth coach when my sons were younger, there was a single grandmother with two bright active grandsons who always ended up on my teams. Her son was a Viet Vet mentally disabled from the war. He married one of those mail order Asian brides who promptly dumped him once she had the kids and ran off to NYC for bigger game. This wonderful grandmother was just barely scraping by on her single income, raising two rambunctous boys alone while her own son lived in transitional housing.

    It was an honor to have known her and coached them, so I know it does happen, but some context needs addressing as her situation was the extreme.

  49. 49 steve
    September 12, 2008 at 18:12

    For the grandmother whose daughter was a drug addict, I realize it’s for the best interest of your grandson, but don’t you think this also enabled your daughter? She got bailed out, and probably hasn’t improved given you still have custody of the child, so what is the daughter to learn from this other than if she’s irresponsible, you will bail her out?

  50. 50 Alan, Singapore
    September 12, 2008 at 18:13

    It’s all about extended families. What is wrong with that? It’s a tradition in most countries in Asia and Africa. It’s what families are for. Would it be better to put these tots in day care?

  51. 51 Jim Robinson
    September 12, 2008 at 18:14

    I’m a grandparent who is a full-time caregiver – I work at home as an artist – and I often feel like I am being taken advantage by my daughter. I’m also a rather young grandparent, age 45, which I also think is a growing trend. I feel like I am missing out on a lot in life.

  52. 52 Virginia Davis
    September 12, 2008 at 18:14

    @Kaidale Danappiah: Thank you for “The Grandson Effect.” Virginia in Oregon

  53. 53 Boniface, Delta
    September 12, 2008 at 18:14

    The practice of allowing grandparents to bring up their grandchildren is very wrong. This is because these children copy some behaviours or character that their parents detest.This is mostly practiced in Africa. I will never think of it even if I am a PAUPER.

  54. 54 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    September 12, 2008 at 18:14

    I think grandparents should be a part of their grandchildren’s lives. I feel that if the grandparents ask to care for their grandchild that is fine. However, children should not expect their parents to care for their grandchildren.

  55. 55 Carmen in Oregon USA
    September 12, 2008 at 18:15

    In the US one of the biggest challenges for parents is supporting the family financially while providing care for children during the day. Many families have two working parents.
    In my opinion this dilemma is rooted in the fact that our country does not give adequate priority to children or their care. On-site childcare would have been a dream for my husband and I and should be provided whenever possible.
    Grandparents should not be expected to pick up the slack unless they actually want to participate in that way.

  56. 56 steve
    September 12, 2008 at 18:16

    @ Jim,

    I completely respect you for the sacrifice you are making, but hav eyou let your daughter know that you will only bail her out once, otherwise she will think she can take advantage of you and that you will bail her out the next time she decides to be irresponsible. Sometimes, though not in the best interest of the grandchild, it might be in your child’s best interest to let her learn a lesson, rather than enabling her to make poor decisions by bailing her out. What will she learn other than passing on her responsibilities to you?

  57. September 12, 2008 at 18:19

    Can somebody name the 2nd leading cause of child disabilities in the under poverty lave demographic? Little help. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Which candidate not only supports policies that result in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).

    I’ll give you a hint. His wife owns the biggest “cheep beer” distribution company in the country.

    If you want to curb situations like the one the guest is in, policies need to be created discourage alcoholics from becoming parents.

  58. 58 Lauren
    September 12, 2008 at 18:19

    @ steve

    while I can’t answer for the woman on the radio, I was the same situation as a child. My mother had a substance abuse problem and rather than wait for social services to intervene, she sent me and my brother to live with our grandparents while she went to rehab. Knowing that we were taken care of helped her focus on overcoming her addiction.

    You shouldn’t assume the worst about people. Her daughter may be trying very hard to get her life together, and it’s also possible that she took the responsible route and placed her son in her parents care because she knew that she wouldn’t be able to provide the same love, care and safe environment as her parents could offer.

  59. 59 Jim in California
    September 12, 2008 at 18:21

    @ steve,

    Sorry for the double post… still learning the ropes.
    I agree with you in general, but currently I’m the child’s best option. I think Grandparents ‘stuck’ in this position would benefit from the actual parents if they at least showed interest and not just looked at their own parents as a daycare they can abuse.

    But each situation is different.

  60. 60 steve
    September 12, 2008 at 18:24

    @ Lauren

    It is easy to assume the worst in case, because 10 years later, the grandmother still has custody of the child. It’s 10 years later.

  61. 61 mandie, cape coral, Florida
    September 12, 2008 at 18:25

    my father raises my half sisters child and it takes a lot out of him.
    it started with him and my mom, then my mother passed away. now my father is a stroke survivor raising a boy who is now 14. my brother and I help, but dad still takes the full brunt. if it wasnt for them, now just him- my nephew would be god only knows where.

  62. 62 Igor
    September 12, 2008 at 18:26

    Children must be raised by parents. Grandparents cannot substitute parents.

  63. 63 Jessica in NYC
    September 12, 2008 at 18:27

    Grandparents who for whatever reason assume the role of the main care giver to their children are some of my heroes. Thank god for you! Most of these children would end up roaming the streets or in care of the state–which is no care at all.

  64. 64 steve
    September 12, 2008 at 18:27

    @ Dwight, this really isn’t a topic where Mccain bashing fits in. It’s about Grandparents raising their grandchildren, not about the US election. Nobody forces mothers to drink while pregnant. They choose to do so.

  65. September 12, 2008 at 18:28

    My parents are my day care providers. When I began looking at daycare centers my parents were horrified. They wanted to take care of thier grandchildren. My kids love it and help around thier house. When my parents what to travel my husband and I modify our work schedules to make it work. When my grandparents come back from thier trips it the grandkids they want to see, not me.

  66. 66 Karen in Oregon
    September 12, 2008 at 18:29

    I have 6 adopted children. The last 2 were the child and stepchild of my oldest daughter (who we didn’t get until she was 13 years old). I feel that it was a privilege to have the last two, as parental rights were terminated by the state. I know that neither boy (because of their temperment and disabiities) would have grown into moral and kind people without me. They have “normal” problems, but their anger has mostly dissipated at 17 and 20 years of age. I would not only do it again.

  67. 67 Natarajan
    September 12, 2008 at 18:30

    I am from India, where people were in the a joint family. As the country progresses economically, people are moving to honeycomb nucleus family structure. the parents and the grandparents are longing for the lost culture, where the children are brought up under their grandchildren.

    The society always thinks, the loss of culture and personal morality is lost because of the new cultural change. Here grandparents do not consider as “burdened”, but feel have actually lost their traditional duty of bringing up their grand children

  68. 68 Robert
    September 12, 2008 at 18:31

    I think PART of the problem, at least here in the States, is that the previous generations who are now the grandparents ran the country with the sentiment, “More for us now, let our children deal with the concequences.”

    Now that the children have grown up and have children of their own, they’re left with fewer means to provide for their own children. Perhaps now all the woes thrust upon the backs of the younger generation are coming back to haunt the elder generation by having to carry their children and grandchildren through the mess they’ve left for them?

  69. 69 Dana in San Francisco, CA
    September 12, 2008 at 18:32

    I keep hearing the word “fair” in this discussion. Let’s be completely honest here life in general is NOT FAIR!

    For some grandparents it’s a joy to take care of their grandchildren – my grandmother took care of my sister and I every summer while we were out of school and as a result we have a wonderful relationship with her we are in our 30’s and she is in her 90’s. Without those summers we would not know her and our grandfather so well and some family history would have been lost.

  70. 70 roebert
    September 12, 2008 at 18:35

    As long as I’m able to, I’d always be willing to take care of my grandchildren should the need arise. But I’d definitely let my kids know if they were taking advantage of us, which they would not do. I’m sure no able grandparent would be unwilling to take care of their own flesh and blood in situations where their kids were rendered incapable through one or another kind of difficulty. That’s just logical.

    On the other hand, it becomes another story if that’s the social norm, as it often is in Africa, where laissez-faire sex and pregnancies go on and on, and young mothers just hand over the products of these escapades to their often struggling parents. That’s not even an African cultural tradition; it’s just the result of increasing moral decline on an ever-darkening continent.

  71. 71 Fay
    September 12, 2008 at 18:40

    Economically it is very hard for me and my husband to put our son in day care, but we felt it was unfair to my mother to take care of him after he was starting to crawl and move around. I am from midlle eastern background where Grandparents always take care of their grandchildren, but living in American and my husband is an American we felt that that was unfair to her and she needs to take care of her own health.

  72. 72 Lisa
    September 12, 2008 at 18:41

    I have seven grandchildren, and I love them to death. But money is so tight for me that the thought of raising them is crushing! At 50, I have a lot of energy, but not enough for seven of them!

    Thanksfully, my daughter and her husband both work and all but one of the children are in school full-time. Daycare is spectacularily expensive, but it was their choice to have these children. Their finaces are incredibly tight, too.

    Now, God forbid something were to happen to them, I would raise the kids, but I don’t want to. I do expect my daughter and husband to have adequate life insurance just in case I do. I simply do not have the finances. Being poor again, brings me no joy.

    I am in a place that it is my turn (which sounds so selfish, given some of your guests) to relax a little. And I plan on it. I’ll be there for them, but I hope it never comes to that.

  73. September 12, 2008 at 18:45

    @ steve,

    This is certainly about where policy fits in. WHYS often asks these questions “is this a bad thing?” and most people agree that it is. Then they never go on to ask the obvious follow up question. “What can be done about it?” If we don’t want a reluctant grandmother/ mothers to be a growing occurrence, then what policy is going influence that.

    So great. Most people here believe that it isn’t the best situation at least, to wrong at worst. What should be done about child being born to an addict?

  74. 74 michael hurd
    September 12, 2008 at 18:45

    Quick comment; What happens when our grandkids grow up?

    With thier own parents unable to raise thier own kids, who will raise the next generation??? I certainly will be unable to raise my great grandkids.

  75. 75 sarah v
    September 12, 2008 at 18:45

    Yes, it is not fair for g-parents to care for children once they are at an age to retire. However, is it not better then the children being in foster care? I also can’t help but feel sorry for the children. A g-mother had stated that her g-son was angry about his situation. It’s no wonder, since the grandmother has resentment about her situation. The child not only feels that his parents don’t want him, but also the grandparents dont want him. Maybe this pattern of not wanting children began earlier than this current situation?

  76. 76 Jennifer
    September 12, 2008 at 18:47

    @ Dwight
    Why does everything have to be about politics?

    Regarding alcohol-my mom has a client who had a friend who told her that she needed to drink beer because the yeast in it was good for her baby!

    Your mom did a selfless thing by taking you and your brother to your grandma instead of keeping you in an unsafe environment. I have seen the firsthand effects of children who are raised in environments where substance abuse occurs. It’s heartbreaking. Your mother did the right thing!

    @ Jim
    I think you should talk to your daughter about her child. Let her know that you enjoy spending time with your grandchild but encourage her to spend as much time as possible with her child. You shouldn’t be the 100% caretaker of her baby. It’s doing her and you a disservice!

  77. 77 steve
    September 12, 2008 at 18:47

    @ Michael

    Good point. When the grandkids have kids, the parents will have had no parenting experience, so who can they pass off parenting to iff the parents wish to adbicate childcare responsibility to someone else? I guess there will just be lots of kids up for adoption.

  78. 78 Lainey Hedges
    September 12, 2008 at 18:52

    My 13 year old nephew came to live with my husband and I after sleeping on his grandmother’s couch for most of his life. We have no children, so were apprehensive at first about it, but now are very excited to give him a safe, stable environment with the opportunity to succeed.

    My mother in-law (his grandma) was too caught up in her own life to care for him (she has also 2 school-aged children) My nephew was not well served by his grandmother, he was failing out of school, as with all of her (4 adults and 2 school-aged) children.

    I don’t think the grandparents are always the best option. After all, if they did so well the first time around, why would their offspring do this to their own kids? Maybe it’s just a problem here in the US.

  79. 79 Jameelah
    September 12, 2008 at 18:52

    I do not believe it should be mandatory for the grandparents to have absolute parentage of thier grandchild without choice or any financial support for the child. If they choose to do it, then I think it a blessing, to all involved, still, I’d prefer to raise my own.

    I am a working mother, I have 3 children ages 7, 8 and 9 years old. When they were 0-5years of age I decided to stay home with my kids. When they were all old enough to go to school, then I returned to work.

    Now, whenever I have need someone to care for my children explicitly, I have hired babysitters to care for my children. If there was no one else around my mother-in-law has taken care them for a time and for a nominal fee.

    My main concern about leaving them with her is because we have vast differnces in child rearing. If my mother was still on this earth, perhaps my views would be different.

  80. 80 Don in Portland
    September 12, 2008 at 18:56

    Sometimes the world is hard, but it can also be good. I raised four children as a single parent, retired, and am now raising a delightful little four year old. If I worried about what is fair I’d probably be miserable. So I don’t. The truth is I am lucky to have this little one in my life. One of her smiles is worth a month of retirement. The only regret I have is that I didn’t have the insight or patience that I have now when I raised my grown children.

  81. September 12, 2008 at 18:58

    The “nobody forces a choice” is bunk. It is well diagnosed that alcoholism is not a choice. It is skewed statement when you apply that statement to a child whose parents are not in their lives daily and they are left to be raised by their piers in the projects. It is kind of like saying “you have the choice not to use any petroleum products.” In this environment, try not to. Then try not to do it when you are a 12 year old insecure girl in a poor neighborhood.

    But now I stray from the topic. But if we want to stop the birth rate of FASD babies, people need to unburden themselves from the fantasy that marketing and pier pressure do not influence the end result of Grandparents raising grandbabies. The availability and marketing of these products defiantly do.

  82. 82 steve
    September 12, 2008 at 19:03

    @ Dwight

    So then nobody chooses to drive drunk, right? because they are alcoholics and hence nothing is their responsibility, right?

    Was there a gun at her head when she bought the beer?

    Was there a gun at her head when she drank said beer?

    If no gun, then she did it by choice.

    We need to hold people accountable for their actions and stop the victim bologne. People are in control of their actions if they want to be.

    You were attempting to politicize this discussion, I was merely pointing that out.

    Do you think drinking and driving by alocholics is not a choice then?

  83. 83 Karen
    September 12, 2008 at 19:03

    My husband’s sister has a three-year-old whom she has very rarely allowed anyone to babysit other than her mother. While I support the idea of a family supporting and collectively aiding in the raising of the child, I think that it can lead to a lot of problems if taken to an extreme.

    His sister’s marriage fell apart, and I have no doubt that it had a good deal to do with the fact that, not only was her husband married to her, but to her mother as well! Parents often have a different perspective on how to discipline a child than their own parents, and often a grandparent will find it difficult to accept this different take on raising the child. After all, they raised you and you turned out just fine, right?

    A certain distance from one’s in-laws and parents is essential to the growth and health of one’s marriage, regardless of how wonderful they may be.

  84. September 12, 2008 at 19:09

    @ Jenifer,

    What attracted me to WHYS 2 plus years ago was that it did something at the time that no other call in program was doing. I had heard other international programs. WHYS at that time not only asked the questions, but tried to answer, ‚Äúwhat do we, the world, do about it.‚ÄĚ Getting away from that ideology is the root of my ‚Äúfluff‚ÄĚ criticisms. We, in a free society, can only change problematic behaviors by changing policy. That requires discussing who has the best ideas to change that policy and electing them.

    What good does it do to sit around holding hands and going, ‚Äúoh that is a problem‚ÄĚ, and then not doing anything about it. What if tomorrows topic was, ‚Äúwhat can be done to stop so many teens from having children that they end up pawning off on their parents?‚ÄĚ

  85. 85 Usmair in Kuwait
    September 12, 2008 at 19:10

    Its fair if they are willing it gives a positive for the social bond and childs psychology. They raised us to be good ppl. I think we should trust them with our children. Provided we are not dumping them.

  86. 86 Lauren
    September 12, 2008 at 19:12

    @ steve

    Substance abuse is considered a psychiatric disorder- while driving is a choice ( affected by the presence of alcohol in the system), the drinking portion my not be entirely in a persons control.

  87. September 12, 2008 at 19:28

    @ steve, and all about substance abuse leading to grandparents raising children.

    Let us move this to the blank page. It is getting way off topic.

  88. 88 jamily5
    September 12, 2008 at 19:35

    This question susuggests that the parents aren’t “bringing up,” the children.
    Like in any relationship, everyone has their roles. It is important to discuss what the individual roles and expectations are. Different cultures have different familial roles&expectations. My 20yo daughter is in college and does not have any children. Because I feel that the family is important, if she was to get pregnant, I would see it as my responsibility to help her with her child. In return, we would have some kind of working relationship where she gave me the respect of caregiver. I think that it is all about equitable family relationships. some grandparents feel that it is their role to help with the grandchildren. Some, however, don’t want this responsibility and desire to be more focussed on their own life. If the grandparents don’t want the responsibility of grandchildren, then, it is unfair to force them to care for their grandchildren. This would harbor resentment. However, I do find it quite sad when the mother&father, as well as the grandparents are not willing to care for the grandchildren. the prime responsibility is with the parents. I think that the reason that some grandparents are reluctant to care for the children is because they feel as if the parent is unwilling to take responsibility of their own children. The grandparent knows how hard it is to raise children and resents their son or daughter who won’t take that responsibility. Nevertheless, statistics have shown that children who are raised by extended family: instead of a daycare or child care workers, are more emotionally healthy.

  89. September 12, 2008 at 19:40

    On Grandparents and Child Care:

    My husband and I are caring for our 1 and 1/2 year old grandson 2 days a week. We had planned to work full time until we were 66 but instead scaled back to about 1/3 of our work schedule so we could baby sit our new grandson two days a week. His parents didn’t ask us. They announced they were having a baby a week before we were to close on a rental house purchase we were making in the city where they live. We instantly changed the status of that purchase to a second home. By the time the baby was born we had offered to baby sit two days a week. The other grandmother wanted equal time and also volunteered to care for him two days a week. His father has a 4-10 work schedule and cares for him on the 5th day.

    It is a 4 hour drive to the area where I work. I do everything possible to have my babysitting schedule have priority over my work schedule. If I miss a week, I feel like grandpa is getting to have all the fun and I’m missing out on the new toddler achievements of the week. Caring for him is just an absolute joy that we wouldn’t miss for anything. Any additional retirement financial benefits we would have achieved by working full time until 66 could never be as valuable as this special time with our grandson.

    He has a wonderful relationship with both his parents who excel at focused time with him.

    Having parented without support from an extended family nearby was very challenging when I experienced some health issues when my sons we very young.
    Remembering those struggles, we wanted to be nearby when our son’s family needed support. This experience has also been very insightful as to how valuable it is to have an extended family of elders nearby to pass on some of the little childcare techniques that they learned after years of on the job training. I so wish we had that gift when our sons were young.

    Having worked with families who were purchasing homes for 25 years, I’ve had the opportunity to see the dynamics of families with more transparency than most counselors. The continuing debate about working vs. stay at home moms misses the mark. One of the most effective moms I had the privilege to work with was employed in international sales by Microsoft. She hired a house manager to take care of tasks like paying the bills and shopping errands. They didn’t have furniture in their living room and dining room for a couple of years though they could easily have afforded any furniture they wanted. The mom was too busy growing potatoes with her kids and other important relationship building tasks. When she interacted with her kids she had a very effective balance between nurture and structure.

    Another mom I worked with at the same time was a stay at home mom. My focus became trying to help her learn to be more relaxed and effective in her interaction with her son. She was ‚Äúsmothering‚ÄĚ him with her approach to parenting. Her husband visited me at the office one day and said that he saw what I was trying to do and thanked me for being willing to trying to give guidance.

    I have worked with many a stay at home mom who is too busy with adult material and social activity focuses to give quality, focused time to their children. Often when they do focus on their children it is to have them excel so that they enhance the parent’s sense of importance.

    My husband and I loved the years we spent in our grandparents’ care. My mother died when I was three. I lived with my grandparents most of my preschool years. In my first three years my mother had two bouts of breast cancer and another baby. My father worked long hours on his new farm which gave him a draft exempt status during World War II. Living with my grandparents was an absolutely wonderful experience. Prior to my sister and me living with them my grandparents had taken in an adorable niece whose parents were too busy being socialites to want to care for her. My father always expressed loving having her become part of their family. Later they cared for my cousin when a fire at his parents’ business made it financially necessary for his mother to work in the business. At the same time they cared for another young man whose mother worked as a bus pilot in Alaska. My grandparents were in their 60’s when I started living with them.

    We lived there until my dad remarried when I was 6. Family members used to express their regret at my loss of my mother. The counseling world would think I would feel a sense of being abandoned by her. I was well into my adult years when a lady offered to do a visualization for me. She helped me see that I did have a feeling of abandonment. As a 6 year old I felt abandoned when being taken from my grandmother who was a wonderful model of effective parenting to live with a stepmother who was eventually declared an unfit mother by the courts. It was hard for me as and adult to understand how one could feel abandoned by someone who was always willing to help me any time I asked.

    My husband lived with his grandparents during his preschool years while his dad was stationed at an army base during World War II. He also preferred living with his grandparents who continued to be his most important parenting contact even after he resided with his parents.

    Our parents did choose to limit their grandparent relationship to short visits and gift exchanges. We taught our sons to choose friends and family members who welcomed them on a more extended basis, such as overnight and week long visits, as substitute grandparents.

    I do understand that our parents would have felt it a very big imposition if they had felt it necessary to become the primary care takers of our children.


  90. 90 amira from zambia
    September 12, 2008 at 19:42

    I guess it depends on the age, willingnes and strength of the grandparent – personaly i think its fair

  91. September 12, 2008 at 20:23

    Dwight From Cleveland~

    I enjoyed the program today about grandparents being the primary caregivers to their grandchildren.

    Years ago I got very interested and spent weeks digging around about the history of childrearing. The style of childrearing where aunts and grandparents take care of their sisters’s or daughters children is called the “abandonment” style… Your first grandmother hit on that in the first ten minutes.

    This style of parenting is the predominant style of parenting in most “third world” countries. All those cultures where there is no father’s name on the birth certificate… those children get passed amongst female relatives.

  92. 92 Pangolin- California
    September 12, 2008 at 21:44

    A lot of grandparent childrearing in the states is really a support for low wages. Fathers don’t have the incomes to support a family on their own. Single mothers are forced to work full-time or lose their children so the kids go to day-care, neighborhood babysitters or grandparents.

    To say this promotes the abuse of kids is a massive understatement. These situations are where kids are beaten, neglected, mentally and sexually abused. Because mom’s survival income is dependent upon continued day care she tries to ignore little problems and learns to ignore big problems.

    Most grandparents, babysitters and day-cares are great but the fact that mother’s are forced to work or homelessness makes whole families vulnerable to abuse. When it get’s ugly it gets really ugly.

  93. 93 Hamza Bendani
    September 13, 2008 at 00:29

    As everyone knows, family time is getting harder and harder to find, and our societies are becoming more individualists where its getting difficult for parents to spend time with their children.
    I suggest that when grandparents reach a certain age, it would be best for them to spend time with their grandchildren rather than being sent off to retirement homes. Grandparents can serve as ideal rolemodels and could make up for the time that parents don’t spend with their children.

  94. September 13, 2008 at 13:38

    It is better for the grandparents to stay at home with their children and grandchildren rather than living rest of their live in ‘retirement homes’ where they may feel very much deserted living away from their kith and kin.

  95. 95 Emile Barre
    September 13, 2008 at 13:39

    No. An old African adage puts it well <>.

  96. 96 Emile Barre
    September 13, 2008 at 13:40

    No. An old African adage puts it well, ” It takes a village to raise a child>>.

  97. 97 bjay
    September 13, 2008 at 15:04

    Is it fair for grandparents to bring up their grandchildren?


    bjay connotation with accent.

  98. 98 Jennifer
    September 13, 2008 at 18:49

    @ Emile

    That is also said within the Cherokee Nation! ūüôā It is very true.

  99. 99 smithcopper
    September 13, 2008 at 20:27

    Is it fair? No, not really. Can it be a joy? Certainly. Should people be more responsible for their lives and the children they bring into the world? YES.

  100. 100 EvaCampbell
    September 14, 2008 at 05:42

    I am a grandmother who has had sole care of a grandaughter since she was 2years, she is now 23, and still at home with me. Is this fair. You bet – I love her she loves me. She has now graduated from University as a Civil Engineer, and works in a mine 5 days a week – home for 5. Loves her work. Her mother (my daughter) a single mum droped at my house one day and said “she’s yours”. Many families have extended families.


  101. September 14, 2008 at 09:35


    I admire your nature living and letting live.

  102. 102 Ramesh
    September 14, 2008 at 10:31

    Parenting and ‘grand parenting’ are not about adjustments and sacrifices. It is about duty, since bringing out children is not a matter of accident. We want our children and therefore we have to give it to our children the care that they deserve. There is an ancient Indian concept called “Dharma”, which is the duty one has to fulfill in whatever role one plays in the drama called life! Parents and grand parents are in this together since both have roles to play. Family values and traditions are what grandparents will imbibe and love and care to stand on own foot is what parents will give. When the child grows up, he also has the duty to return the care that has been bestowed on him by all the parties concerned. This is not mere moralising the issue; this how suman societies are sustained. There is neither ‘fairness’ involved nor ‘sacrfice’. Just a concept of duty.

  103. 103 bjay
    September 14, 2008 at 17:57

    YE ! Ramesh

    I do bow, for that kind of wisdom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    bjay with NO connotation

  104. 104 John LaGrua/New York
    September 14, 2008 at 22:02

    Brett: Not to belabor the point but rudeness and irrationality often go hand in hand as your comment indicates. When the study by Maersheimer ,”
    The Isreal Lobby ” a transparent attempt was made by Dennis Ross and Martin Indyck to disparage his scholarship to no avail.What you call venom is a repugnance at the brutal destruction of the Palestinians which I have witnessed first hand .That the US should finance and support this criminal and inhumane activity is a stain on American honor which has brought disrespect and great danger to my country.Abraham Lincoln wisely foretold that the greatest danger to American democracy would come from within not from abroad.Those internal forces who manipulate American foreign policy selfishly in the interest of a foreign state are treading a dangerously fine line between advocacy and treason!

  105. 105 Gloria Hurley
    September 15, 2008 at 02:53

    My husband and I care for our 6-year old grandson everyday after school. We cared for him all last summer. He is intelligent and athletically gifted, but lives with parents who are emotionally lacking and self centered. We allow him to be himself without unnecessary criticism. We discipline him but let him know we love him. He understands that we do not fight and yell at each other on a daily basis and that we care deeply for each other. It is a struggle to bring him into our peaceful existence. I am a step-mother (liked but not acknowledged as a step-mother)but as my Dad’s wife. I’m cool with that. There are five grandchildren (one is a step, but that doesn’t matter to me). Their real grandmother was a wonderful woman and the older ones miss her, but I feel that at some level, they also love me. I love them, but have different areas of my heart that take them in and love them. Stepmothers, who have not been blessed with their own children, are sometimes the best. They really want and care for the children who are not physically theirs. Our six-year old is the youngest one, the next one is 14 and the oldest is 20. It is especially a pleasure for me who could not have children of my own,

  106. September 15, 2008 at 07:23

    Hello, back in Singapore mother that aren’t work are label as “waste people rice” feeding useless people that can’t contribute to the family. A few years back GrandPa were ask to re-join back to the workforce. GrandPa are found working as Pump Attendence and Changi Airport pushing trolley. Today GrandMa are coming to work as Food Court clearing tables & plates pushing trolley working in NTUC casher. The western grandparent (don’t even know how fortunate) they are. In Singapore Grandparent are ask to buy “Special Old Flats” which means you want those special flats you comeout from retirement to work again. In Singapore we don’t believe in “Free Lunch” where you “Re-distribute Money” from the rich people into poor people pocket. No Rohinhood tax stealing from the rich people. This will encourage poor people to become very lazy and take advantage & abuse the system by staying unemployed. We buy this ideas Govt. said:”if you don’t work you, got nothing to eat, nobody look after you, so you better work” Well, no western style failure welfare state. We had this saying in Singapore “learn to old, live to old. Never used the word retirement. After Ms Lee had 2 strokes, MM Lee had 1 stroke maybe the Govt. may believe this old saying:”A cow also need to rest”

  107. 107 abdulahi
    September 15, 2008 at 09:54

    no its not fair.

  108. 108 greg
    September 15, 2008 at 11:50

    Taking care of their children is the primary responsibility of the parents. But there are instances when the grandparents are the one taking care of their grandchildren. For me there is nothing wrong about it, as long they are willing to do it and very happy doing it. In a modern world that we have today, where both parents need to work in order for the family to live comfortably, grandparents are often the ones who looks after the kids. As long as its not a burden on their part and it gives them happiness and fullfilment, that’s for me is acceptable.

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