30 January 2013

Grandparents raising grandchildren

I was flipping through an older edition of The Star on my I-pad while waiting for my son outside his tuition teacher's house.

Da-dee-dum, then the article with the picture of a bespectacled Grandma wrapping presents with her grand-daughter popped up. The article was entitled, "Raising grandchildren can be hard on grandparents' health".

I reproduce an excerpt from the article here:
Two years ago, Ruth Maxey was raising six children, including twin granddaughters, a niece and the girl’s three siblings. She was also in her 60s. It got to be too much, and in January 2011, Maxey had a stroke, not long after she retired from a demanding job as a hospital administrator. She has high blood pressure, which is a risk factor, but “I’m sure the job and raising the kids and the rippin’ and runnin’ had something to do with it,” she said.

My own parents are in their 70s and my mom is still the granny-nanny. She was nanny to my kids until my elder boy turned 7 and my little girl turned 3, then I stopped work and looked after my own  children. At that time, my parents were only in their 60s. That was 5 years ago.

A difference of 10 years makes a big difference in the level of an elderly persons' capabilities - hearing loss, vision impairment, gait abnormalities, cognitive decline, reduced energy levels. A geriatrician said that grandparents face significant emotional and physical challenges as they try to keep up with toddlers, pre-schoolers and teenagers.

I have looked up several granny-nanny stories online, and all the grannies say that while they love their grandchildren to bits, they also admit that caring for them does take its toll on their health and emotional and social well being. Some of there grannies have their grand kids live with them on a full time basis, due to financial constraints faced by the parents or a breakdown in the relationship of the parents. Those situations, I believe, put even greater strain on the grandparents, but things being as they are, sacrifices need to be made.

My own mother dotes on her 2 toddler grandsons whom she babysits, but age is catching up with her. Her movements are slower, she complains of aches and pains, falls sick easily and does not have time for her own social and personal activities. That someone even asked my mom, "But what else have you got to do??" made me mad. That was such an unkind, stupid and selfish question to ask. Everyone has a right to his or her own time, to take care of their own personal matters, to have a morning stroll, chat with friends and go to church. Especially at 74.

I am very grateful for my parents' help in looking after my children when I was building my career, when we could not yet afford to be a single income family. Today, I just want my mother to be able to enjoy her old age, and to enjoy her grandchildren without the burden of caring for their daily needs. 



  1. I am grateful for my parents and in-laws who help us with my two girls. I am always conscious to try and ease the load for them. Thankful to that my workplace allows me flexible hours to fit in my family's needs. It's hard for parents who do not have extended family to help.

  2. Hi Charmaine! Agreed...I am so glad that you have a supportive family network. And further, I can tell that you are a very involved and committed working-mom judging from all your FB postings of your marvellous cooking and taking your girls for their music exams and performances and other activities.

    I think it's your conscious mindfulness of the gratitude that you have for your parents and in-laws' help/ input in raising your family that makes all the positive difference for you and them! Keep up your great job Char!