kids

'My goddaughter wants me to look after her baby for free. I said no, but she keeps pushing.' 

No doubt there are plenty of grandparents out there who quietly resent having to spend their retirement looking after their grandchildren. But at least it’s their grandchildren.

Imagine how you’d feel if you were being put under pressure to provide free childcare for someone else’s grandchild.

That’s the situation a woman posting on UK website Mumsnet has found herself in. She’s 64, and planning to retire at Christmas. Recently, one of her oldest friends came to her for help with her daughter, who has a financially abusive husband.

“The bottom line is that her daughter (who is also my goddaughter) is returning to work in January after maternity leave and wants me to look after her baby, who will be five months old,” she explained. “My friend really put pressure on, saying that her daughter cannot afford to pay for childcare but has to return in January as she has no income otherwise.”

The woman said no, explaining that she and her older, retired husband had been planning to travel. But the friend kept pushing, saying that if her daughter had to pay for childcare, she’d be left with just £20 ($35) a month to live on. The woman’s own daughter suggested she offer to do one day a week, but the woman didn’t want to do even that.

“My friend emailed me yesterday and accused me of being selfish. My husband is totally against me helping but I feel that a long-standing friendship will be ruined if I continue to refuse.”

For once, the replies were unanimous.

“No no no. You have earned your retirement and you have plans. Do not let her or anybody else take that away from you.”

“I’m utterly staggered that this even fleetingly crossed the minds of your friend and goddaughter.”

“Absolutely not. My parents worked long and hard all their lives. They took early retirement when he was 60 and my mum a few years younger. They had only six months together until she was diagnosed with cancer and she was dead a year later. No one knows what life has in store and you should enjoy every day of it – together – while you have the chance.”

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There were plenty of people who said they wouldn’t even look after their own grandchildren in retirement.

“I am struggling to death with my four children,” wrote one woman.

“When they leave home, I will enjoy that time. I will not be looking after theirs while they work. I will be a grandma, not a childcare provider.”

“My stepdaughter-in-law kindly suggested I might like to give up work or go part-time so I could care for her children when they were little,” another added. “Nope. If I’m giving up work or going part-time (not that I can afford to), it’s to kick back and please myself, not be an underpaid – or, rather, not paid at all – nanny.”

The woman who had asked the original question posted again, saying the replies had made her feel emotional.

“I have always been an involved godmother so she probably thought it was a reasonable request,” she explained. “Both my friend and I have spoken to my goddaughter about her husband but she will not leave him. She sees him as tight rather than financially abusive.”

The woman said she would meet her friend face-to-face this week to explain why she wouldn’t be looking after her goddaughter’s baby.

“Writing it all down makes me realise how incredibly cheeky they have been,” she added.

“Cheeky” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

What do you think of the babysitting request this woman received? Do you think her friend was in the wrong?

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