Data released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that 30 per cent of children with two working parents received informal care by a grandparent. This percentage is similar for single-parent families where the parent is employed.
Patrick Corr of the ABS says, “In families where the youngest child usually attended some form of child care, 76 per cent of female parents and 94 per cent of male parents worked.
“This is compared with 45 per cent and 88 per cent respectively in families where the youngest child did not attend care.”
Even though more female parents than male parents use alternative work arrangements – such as flexible work, part-time work and working from home – to care for children, just under 50 per cent of all children aged 0–12 years (1.8 million) still needed to attend some form child care, with one-third attending informal care and one-quarter formal care.
Informal care includes care by family members and relatives, as well as people such as friends, neighbours, nannies or baby sitters. Whereas, formal care is defined as before and after school care, long day care, family day care and occasional care.
Read more at the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
I strongly agree with the old adage that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. And that village certainly includes grandparents, for the reward for both parties – grandparent and grandchild – is priceless. However, this must not come at the expense or wishes of the grandparent. That is, we should not assume or expect a grandparent to provide care for a child. Nor should the grandparent be coerced or feel obliged to do so – or made to feel guilty if they don’t – as resentment can build and destroy family relationships.
Instead, care – if any – provided by a grandparent should be based on mutual agreement and honesty. If a grandparent is happy to provide care, it’s only fair that you regularly give something of significance in return, such taking your parent (or parent-in-law) out for the day for a nice lunch and movie on you, or giving vouchers or tickets to something that they’d enjoy. It definitely shouldn’t be the case that because they’re a grandparent they should want to do it, and do it for free. It’s courteous and relationship building to show you value a loved one’s time.
Of course, parents have multiple types of care options from which to choose, including the government’s newly proposed Nanny Pilot Program, so why not use a mix of care? The more caring adults available to nurture a child during their childhood, the more likely the child will turn out to be a mature, well-balanced, confident and independent adult.
What are your thoughts? Are you a grandparent who willingly provides care? Or do you think you’ve ‘done your time’ and parents should pay for care if they want to work?