The Grandparent Trap: A Guide To Relying On Your Parents For Childcare


A huge number of families rely on grandparents to help with childcare. Yours might be one of them.

It’s easy to see why this is a necessary step for so many families to take. Conventional childcare is extortionately expensive. If both parents want to work -- and for that work to be worth doing -- then sometimes, grandparent care is the only childcare they can afford. Then there’s also the fact that many grandparents delight in providing care for their grandchildren; it’s a valuable bonding time that they take on willingly.

If you rely on your own parents to help take care of your children, then you can often find yourself walking a fine line. You don’t want to overload your parents; you want to ensure that your kids are well looked after when you’re working-- basically, the stakes are high. A few pertinent questions to your parents might be able to soothe your mind and ensure the arrangement is still working for everyone. Questions such as…

“Do you ever feel that having to care for your grandchildren stops you doing things?”

While most grandparents will be delighted to take care of their grandkids, some may feel stifled. Occasionally, you will find stories online of grandparents who love their grandchildren dearly, and want to help as much as they can, but are struggling with the amount of care they are having to provide. There are plenty of examples of this scenario on If you’re worried about your own parents feeling that way, then it’s an issue you need to tackle.

Obviously, you have to be careful when addressing this issue, as you don’t want to offend anyone. The above question is the best way of finding out if your parents are struggling with the care they are providing. Ask your parents to be honest, as you’re only asking in the best interests of the whole family.

“Does taking care of your grandchildren ever impact your health?”

It’s easy to assume that your parents are doing fine with childcare because they don’t complain; but there’s every chance they’re not complaining because they don’t want to upset you. This is true if they are still independent in their own home or have moved to the likes of and thus have healthcare on-site. In the latter scenario, you may assume all is well as they have support, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Even with health assistance, juggling their own conditions and their childcare responsibilities can be exhausting, so it’s worth investigating regardless of their circumstances.

So, address the issue. Are they seeing doctors when they should? Do they still have enough energy for their own hobbies when you’ve collected your kids? Ask this from a position of concern, and hopefully they will feel able to be honest.

“Do you need to change your schedule at all?”

If you have fallen into a pattern of relying on grandparent care, then you can spend months or even years going through the same routine without change. By asking your parent if they need to change this schedule, you can be sure that the arrangement is still working for them.

If they do need a change, then see what you can do to implement it. Ultimately, everyone wants the same thing; for your entire family to be as healthy and cared for as possible. Work together, and you should be able to find a solution that works for all. 

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