A grandparent’s role in caring for their grandchild is a frequent point of contention on Reddit. In fact, we’ve seen posts on the subject go viral every six months or so. In Oct. 2021, one woman on the “Am I The A—hole?” subreddit couldn’t believe her retired parents wouldn’t babysit her children after she got a promotion. In April 2022, a grandma who worked full-time refused to babysit her grandchild on her days off and got a whole lot of backlash from her daughter. And in Dec. 2022, a mom just needed a moment to vent about how disheartening it is that neither her parents nor her in-laws will lend a hand. These caretaking conundrums always leave a messy comment section in their wake.
Well, the latest debate on the Parenting subreddit surrounds grandparents who expect to be paid for babysitting. “My parents don’t do this, thankfully,” the woman wrote in her original post. “But it always boggles my mind that this is something that actually happens in some families.”
“How is this a thing??” she asked. “Is it cultural?”
After reading pro-payment comments, the woman edited her post to ask some pointed questions.
“Do these types of grandparents not consider the time spent with their grandchildren valuable and beneficial to them as well as the parents, or do they not actually get any joy or benefit from keeping the grandchildren? It seems to me the time spent babysitting is a mutual favor for the parents and the grandparents. So many grandparents are isolated living alone in nursing homes and never get to see their families. Is there no value gained by grandparents in having time with grandchildren?”
OP is certainly entitled to her opinion — as are the Redditors in the comment section — but the logic she went on to share is downright strange.
Her Reasoning Is Bizarre
“To me, [a grandparent asking to be paid for babysitting] is no different than a wife expecting her husband to give her money every time they have sex, just because prostitutes are paid for the same job,” OP wrote.
What? As one commenter perfectly said, “comparing babysitting to sex is weird.” “You lost me on comparing babysitting to prostitution,” another agreed.We could go ahead and poke holes in that scenario, but we don’t want to draw any more attention to that seriously baffling comparison.
“Or, a husband expecting his wife to pay him for mowing the yard just because landscapers are paid for it,” she wrote.
We’re certainly not surprised to see antiquated gender norms rearing their ugly head!
“Or either one of them expecting payment for cleaning out the litterbox because pet sitters are paid,” she continued.
Well of course not. Because you and your partner decided to buy a house with a yard and get a pet, so you do have to do those tasks for free (or pay a third party to take care of it). Your parents — who no doubt love being grandparents — did not decide to take on that role. And so plenty of commenters believe they should be compensated. More on that later.
“Families do things for each other out of love,” she continued. “Not in expectation of being paid. And it doesn’t matter to me if the family member only expects a low discounted rate. To me, that’s actually worse…I can’t imagine telling my husband, ‘Oh since the going rate for sex with prostitutes in this area is $50 an hour, I’ll only charge you $25/hr since you’re my husband and I love you.”
It’s worse? OK, we’ll let your family know to invoice you for the full “going rate.”
We Love Freebies!
Plenty of families don’t exchange money for babysitting. We know grandparents who would downright refuse, and it’s a lovely gesture to watch the kids for free if a parent needs to run an errand, go to a doctor’s appointment, or have a much-needed night out. In fact, a lot of people think that’s the appropriate thing to do.
“I would find paying the grandparents for a random date night every once in a while odd,” one Redditor commented. “Because family does favors for each other occasionally.”
And yes, we think that’s a reasonable consensus. Plenty of people benefit from free babysitting (guilty as charged!), and while it may be the norm, the internet thinks OP is incredibly entitled. There’s nothing unreasonable about a grandparent (or any family member) asking to be paid.
But Invoices Will Be Accepted
While paying for babysitting may not be the arrangement you have with your parents or in-laws, a lot of Redditors think Grandma and Grandpa are well within their rights to ask for a check. Especially if this is for an extended period of time at the grandparents’ house (“Electricity, food, and running water [are not free]”) or if they have essentially become the child’s nanny.
“If a grandparent is taking on a regular babysitting role for regular hours every week and is not financially stable and might otherwise take another job then yes I think it’s fair,” one person wrote. “I get why some grandparents watching kids 20-40 hours a week want to be paid.”
“I get why” — that’s the key. This thread ultimately wasn’t about people’s personal situations, but about explaining to OP that free childcare may be a perk of living near grandparents, but it is not a right.
“Your parents do not OWE you free childcare!” one Redditor admonished OP. “Believe it or not, adults over the age of 60 have lives, friends, hobbies, part-time jobs, and have earned their time to relax. Caring for kids is damn hard work and they should not be guilted into doing it because ‘they’re the grandparents’ or being accused of not wanting to spend time with their grandkids.”
And we know there might be this nagging feeling of, “If I’m going to pay, I might as well get a babysitter.” But should you? As one person pointed out, why would you pay a stranger and not your family member? Is it because these kids are not inherently their responsibility? Interesting…
Plain and simple: “People’s time is worth money and grandparents are not obligated to provide free childcare.”
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