A mom took to Reddit to complain about her 64-year-old mother who refused to babysit for free. The poster explained that she wanted the retired grandmother to provide childcare when she goes back to work. However, the grandmother declined, saying she already raised her kids, but she’ll do it for $20 an hour, plus late fees, and free baby equipment. Instead of sympathy, the Reddit community fired back, saying the mother was “horribly entitled”. Arose the discussion of grandparents providing full-time childcare — and if they should be compensated for their time.
“My mom refused to help me take care of my baby while I go back to work”
The 29-year-old mom began her post by explaining she had asked her mother to care for her newborn so she could return to work after her maternity leave. She added that her mother is 64 and “has been a homemaker/stay-at-home-mom since 1992, and hasn’t been part of the workforce since then.” However, the grandmother refused, citing her age and the fact she had already raised her children. The grandmother also suggested, “that if I really wanted this baby, then maybe I should have thought about staying home like she did to take care of it while my partner goes to work.” 
However, the mom continued her post by saying she and her partner couldn’t live on one income with their debt and student loans, and she is the higher breadwinner. They also live in a small one-bedroom apartment and trying to save for a larger apartment they’ll need when the baby gets older. “When I explained all the above to my mom, she then proceeded to say that she will charge me $20/hr for each hour she takes care of the baby, plus late fees if we are late for pickup.” She also wanted the mom to provide her with all of the baby equipment she’ll need to take care of the baby at her own apartment since she refuses to watch the baby at her daughter’s home.
This request throws a wrench in the mom’s plans to save money. “So, am I the a**hole for wanting my mom, who again is at home all day long (trust me, she does not do anything besides watch TV and cook meals), to take care of my baby for free while I and my partner try to fix our finances?”
Expecting Grandma to Provide Childcare
Overall, comments criticized the mother for expecting her mother to babysit full-time for free. Many wrote that if the mom planned to return to work, she should have discussed this with her mother ahead of time. As one summarized, “The mother has raised her children. To expect(!) that she watches the baby just because she has time. And for free. As if she has nothing better to do. This entitlement. If you plan to get a child, you plan for childcare. But you don’t plan on other people without asking”. Other comments suggested that the grandmother purposely offered her services for a high price to dissuade her daughter from pursuing the issue.
Sometimes grandparents are able and willing to take primary care roles for their grandchildren. This is different from babysitting, where the grandparent occasionally watches the kids for a few hours. In this case, a primary care role comes in the form of grandparents essentially becoming an alternative to daycare, where they have to mind the kids full-time and guide them through their daily routines. Variations of grandparent daycare are becoming increasingly common because many families need two incomes these days.
While this can seem like a dream for some parents, it could become a precarious situation. There can be disagreements on child-rearing, lack of privacy, and breaches of personal boundaries. For parents, they can feel like the grandparents overstep, such as giving much-unsolicited advice and butting into private matters. Grandparents can feel taken advantage of, sometimes expected to do more childcare or for longer hours than they are comfortable with.
How to Make it Work
However, the perks are obvious. It’s childcare provided by a trusted family member who loves the kids unconditionally. To make this situation work, there needs to be upfront and continual communication. The subject of payment should come up. While some grandparents are appalled at the idea of getting paid for spending time with their grandkids, some would greatly appreciate it. After all, they are essentially becoming locked into a full-time job, and not an easy one. The payment shows appreciation for their devotion and sacrifice. For grandparents who are uncomfortable taking money, the parents can instead show appreciation through gifts, trips, paying their bills, etc. 
Another part of communication should involve the child-rearing itself. Grandparents may want to raise their grandkids differently than how their parents want them to be raised. For instance, there can be arguments about discipline and coddling of the kids’ diets and bedtimes. Healthy and respectful communication should be established early on to make these conversations as painless as possible. Since the grandparent is watching the kids full-time, the kids should follow the same rules as when their parents are around. 
While grandparents love their grandkids, they shouldn’t feel pressured to provide childcare regularly if they don’t want to. As well, parents may feel the grandparents’ declining health makes them unfit for babysitting. And of course, the kids should seem happy to spend more time with their grandparents. Overall, this arrangement should benefit everyone involved.
- “AITA if my mom refused to help me take care of my baby while I go back to work?” Reddit.
- “Things to Consider When Grandparents Provide Child Care.” Very Well Family. Robin McClure. January 1, 2022.
- “Grandparents provide free childcare, but it costs us in other ways.” Motherly. Brett Grayson. January 2, 2020