Grandparents need to negotiate on child care

May 20, 2014 by David Ellis

Grandparents derive great benefits from providing informal child care to their grandchildren, but often feel left out of the loop and out of pocket as a result, according to research from the University of Adelaide.

In a study published in the Journal of Family Studies, researchers at the University of Adelaide's School of Psychology sought to better understand the impact on grandparents' emotional wellbeing from providing regular child care.

"We know that many families are feeling the financial squeeze, especially single parent families, and they often turn to grandparents as an inexpensive and available source of ongoing child care," says Cecily Young, a Clinical Psychologist who has conducted this study for her Master of Psychology (Clinical) degree at the University.

"Grandparents are usually pleased to be more closely involved in their grandchildren's lives, and they derive great satisfaction from that.

"However, they can also suffer from stress, increased fatigue, a sense of social isolation and a fair amount of financial strain, especially if the parents are not reimbursing them for out-of-pocket expenses."

Ms Young's study measured grandparents' wellbeing in two ways: looking at self-esteem as a representation of positive factors; and psychosocial distress as a representation of the negatives.

"Our results showed that grandparents' level of satisfaction with the care arrangements had much to do with their wellbeing," she says.

"The specific details of the arrangements aren't important in and of themselves, what's really important is whether the grandparent feels they've been able to play an active role in making those agreements, that they have been heard, and that their needs are being taken seriously.

"The most important message arising from our work is for grandparents to feel confident and comfortable in expressing their needs when negotiating , and for all families to have frank and open discussions about this."

Ms Young says parents should also be mindful that are potentially dealing with many issues at once, and it's important to take their other cares and responsibilities, as well as financial pressure, into account when discussing care-giving.

Explore further: The ties that bind: Grandparents and their grandchildren

Related Stories

The ties that bind: Grandparents and their grandchildren

May 13, 2011

Close your eyes for a moment, open your treasure trove of memories and take a step back in time to your childhood. Do you remember your grandfather gently scooping you up into his warm and comforting embrace? Or sitting by ...

Grand-parenting keeps wheels turning

May 15, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—Postmenopausal women who took care of their grandchildren one day a week had better memory and faster cognitive speed than those who didn't, according to new research from the University of Melbourne.

Recommended for you

Mobile app records our erratic eating habits

September 24, 2015

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner? For too many of us, the three meals of the day go more like: office meeting pastry, mid-afternoon energy drink, and midnight pizza. In Cell Metabolism on September 24, Salk Institute scientists ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.