Hiring Grandma

Granny the Nanny: The Upside

One of the most obvious perks of having a grandparent as your child's caregiver is the money you may save. Some families require flexible hours that only in-home care can offer, and that may be easier to ask of a relative than of a sitter with kids of her own. Then there's the emotional payoff. My mother watches my 13-month-old son, Eric, while I work, and I'm thrilled that she has a front-row seat for the magic of Eric's babyhood. Indeed, spending so much time together sets the groundwork for a unique bond between child and grandparent. For the child, the caregiver grandparent is a link to family history. "Grandparents can help pass on treasured family memories and ethnic traditions," says Bill Maier, a licensed clinical psychologist and vice president of Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs.

Memories can be shared during visits and on holidays, too, but family rituals may be more ingrained if they are part of daily life. Still, as any mom knows, caring for a baby for eight to ten hours a day is exhausting. What's in it for the grandparent? For some, it's an opportunity to forge a strong bond with her grandchild, to help her adult child, or to spend the time with a baby that she missed out on when she was a young mother forging her own career. "By allowing me to take care of my grandson, my daughter has made my golden years pure gold," says Janet Larson, who cares for her grandson, Connor.

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