What about children? This is the question that many mothers and fathers ask themselves when the school holidays arrive. “The most economical option and with which you can be calmer is to leave them with the grandparents.” This is what Luis Miguel and Tania think, a couple with split-shift work hours and who, in the mornings, take their six-year-old daughter to a camp and in the afternoons, on alternate days, with her paternal grandparents. José Luis Estévez, 64, and Clara Estévez, 63, are happy taking care of their granddaughter. “The little one is very active. She we like to draw, paint and do some activity from the holiday books. Of course, when it is very hot we bet on the dip in the pool. We don’t feel like it’s a lot of work, but we do understand that we have to be constantly on the lookout because we see it as a strong responsibility”, points out the grandfather.

For her part, María Rodríguez, 69, takes care of her 4 and 6-year-old granddaughters in the mornings because her mother works until the afternoon. The eldest goes to the pool twice a week and the rest of the days she does vacation book activities with them, they paint and go to the park. Rodríguez assures that he is doing well and that it is not very different from the rest of the year, understanding at the same time that his rest and leisure are relegated to second place, when also due to the parents’ working hours he has to lend a hand with the care of the little ones

Popular belief says that parents are the ones who educate and grandparents are the ones who consent. “Taking care of the little ones in the house is not an obligation, but it is a right of both the grandfather and the minor,” says Natalia Rosset García, a lawyer specializing in Old Age Law and director of Tutelarte, a web platform for legal and social advice. aimed at the elderly and vulnerable. “The role of the elderly is less demanding since they do not have a legal duty regarding education. There is also no duty, legally speaking, to comply with recommendations or guidelines suggested or requested by parents”, adds this expert.

For Rosset, the best care option for mothers and fathers, in terms of safety and peace of mind, are grandparents. But be careful: “From psychology and sociology, the new figure of kangaroo grandparents”. As explained, the difficult reconciliation of family and work life has given rise to this figure: grandparents who, sometimes almost forced, take care of their grandchildren despite the limitations they may have. “You have to count on them, but without abusing or allowing slave grandparents syndrome to occur, a disorder generated by excessive physical and emotional load.” “The increase in hope and better quality of life,” continues Rosset, “means that we are facing a greater presence and involvement of grandparents in the lives of their grandchildren.” Although, as she adds, parents often do it more out of necessity than desire.

Antonio Blanco, 77, has a 9-year-old granddaughter. His daughter, a nurse, and his son-in-law, a local police officer, work shifts and the girl often stays overnight with him. “A large part of the day is with me. Taking care of my granddaughter is a great responsibility and there are days when I feel that it is too much for me, that I am also a widower, that deprives me of doing what I want and I realize that I cannot meet all the expectations of the little one, which makes me feel guilty, too.” According to Blanco, the girl asks him to go to the pool, to the park, to take her to shops or cafeterias, and “it’s something that requires me an extra effort and more so in summer and with so much heat.” Blanco acknowledges that he prefers to be at home with the air conditioning on and watch movies, read or meet his friends for coffee and play cards, “although after 7:00 p.m. it’s cooler.” As a grandfather, he would like to see his granddaughter from time to time and with her parents so that they can care for her better than him: “They have more energy and I think that more reconciliation options should be provided for them, so that they are not forced to always turn to us, to the grandparents, who usually find ourselves in a stage of life with other needs”.

There are grandparents who, on the contrary, are delighted to be with their grandchildren. “Being with the children gives me life”, feels María Barquero, a 69-year-old grandmother, retired and living in Palma (Mallorca). “I take care of five children: a 13-year-old girl, a 10-year-old, two 8-year-old boys and one who will be two years old at the end of August. My daughters live in a town, but in the summer the little ones spend a few days with me and the rest of the year, when they ask me to”. “I laugh a lot with them and we have a great time”, she continues, “they usually play with each other and when they get bored we ask Alexa questions. We play board games or watch movies and their parents take care of school activities. They love being in my house and my food.” Barquero adds that, although they argue because there are many of them and with different tastes, she makes up for everything else: “I feel that they teach me a lot and keep me up to date on the latest in music or cinema.”

Marco’s father, 22 months old, works morning shifts and in the summer he is lucky to have three weeks of vacation. His mother, a nurse, works morning, afternoon and night shifts. The boy is delighted when he stays with the grandmothers and they stay with him, because he is quite patient and calm and they have a good time doing activities together. One of the grandmothers is Marisol Vázquez, 58 years old and unemployed: “My grandson loves to go to the park or to town and at home we paint, read stories, listen to songs and make up stories with dolls. Other times we play games with water in the backyard, pick flowers or make pastries (cookies, biscuits…), and, as my daughter recommended, we put screens on it as little as possible”. Marisol’s daughter is very interested that the grandmothers follow the eating guidelines that she dictates to them and that they orient themselves with some menus from the nursery for dinners and lunches; and she always plays fruit and yogurt for snack.

Benefits for both parties

“Above all, taking care of grandparents should not represent a physical or psychological cost for the elderly, that is, knowing what can be asked of them,” stresses Antoni Jiménez Massana, psychologist and family mediator. For the also social educator, the coexistence of grandchildren with grandparents is positive and benefits both parties. “If there is no overload, it can make the elderly feel useful and inject them with activity, fun and responsibility.” For the expert, minors are introduced to a safe environment where they can live together with parameters other than those they are used to, other foods, other rules, other games: “This is being educated, learning and generally with subjects of maximum confidence”. On the other hand, as he explains, parents can meet again in the absence of their children and enjoy time for them when possible.

Margarita Fernández, 63, highlights the necessary condition of love and respect for the elderly by minors. In the summer, she takes care of her six-year-old granddaughter because her parents work split shifts. They have a great time together and she expresses that she does not perceive it as something that exhausts or overwhelms her. “We prepare desserts, go for a walk, tell riddles or review school assignments. On other occasions, we go to town to visit other relatives and there we bathe in the pool, do gardening activities and feed the animals. The time we spend together makes us love and understand each other more.”

You can follow Mamas & Papas on Facebook, Twitter or sign up here to receive our biweekly newsletter.

By Nail

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *