Q. I want my parents to look after my 4yo because my in-laws won’t but my parents refuse to. They want to live their lives independently and travel. What should I do?
answered by Beth Lindon, Manager of Patient Safety, Clinical Trials (2003-present)
I see this all the time. People I know really wanting a baby (or 2nd, 3rd…). So they have their baby. Lovely! Everyone’s delighted. But they also have a job, a career, study…so many other commitments. So within a few weeks or months family members and friends are being roped in for babysitting duties. Kind of whether they like it or not. And they feel bad if they say no. They might have a bunch of commitments of their own to juggle. Or they might not. My point is, parents who really want a child knowing they cannot possibly care for that child every day because they have full-time jobs (at the very least) are making the assumption that family and friends will step in. I’m not talking about the odd occasion so parents can have a date night, I’m talking about regular childcare so parents can go to work or study (or both). In that case, the family members and/or friends should have been involved in the decision to have a baby or not since they are going to be so essential to that child’s care and the parents’ ability to manage their normal lives. But this usually isn’t the case it seems. A huge assumption is made on the part of the parents. They seem to think once the baby is here, someone will bail them out because they’ll feel they can’t say no. And rather than adjusting their own lives to accommodate a new little person in their schedule, they prefer to keep things as they are and hope other people will fill in the gaps.
I loved babysitting my nieces and giving their parents a break. But I had the time. Now I work and take care of my elderly parents on my own. It’s physically and emotionally exhausting. I have a friend with 4 kids under 7, who are out of control. She thinks it’s fine to ask me to take care of all her 4 kids. And it’s never for a couple hours. It’s whole weekends so she can go on a ‘spa break’. Cue maniacal laughter!
I have another friend who recently retired but now she has to take care of her little granddaughter 5 days a week so the parents can work. Nobody thought to ask her beforehand. So she’s basically gone back to working full-time for zero pay.