Will Parental Leave for Grandparents Help New Parents?
Around 84% of fathers and 33% of mothers in the UK are in full-time employment, so many are in need of some form of child care. Grandparents are often popular as babysitters, but if they have a job too, this can be difficult to work around.
Chancellor George Osborne has reported that “Research shows two million grandparents have either given up a job, reduced their hours or taken time off work to look after their grandchildren.”
With this in mind, the government has announced plans to extend parental leave, which currently allows parents to share 52 weeks of statutory paid leave, to cover grandparents.
This change will be particularly useful to single parents, who will be able to share child care with the child’s grandparents, allowing them to stay in work without needing to take time off.
While this new arrangement gives parents access to free and flexible child care, it also means that babies can spend time in a familiar environment (at home or at their grandparent’s house), and allows grandchildren and grandparents to spend quality time together.
For babies, regular contact allows attachments to form with familiar caregivers, in addition to their primary caregivers (typically their mother and father). Childhood attachment is a key contributor to a child’s emotional development; strong positive attachments in childhood give children the confidence to become independent as they grow older.
This attachment also forms the foundation of a special long term bond between the child and their grandparent, while providing the child with another role model they can learn from and rely on for support. Grandparents can teach children valuable skills (such as sewing), share stories from their own lives, and introduce them to the games they enjoyed when they were younger. These experiences give a child wonderful memories for life.
The inter-generational interactions can benefit grandparents as well. Babies and children can encourage grandparents to stay active and busy, while also keeping them company. Babysitting is also a lovely way for grandparents to enjoy their grandchild’s smiles and laughter, and watch them grow and develop.
Being able to leave their child in the care of a close family member can ease the guilt and pressure some parents may feel when using a paid child carer, while making it easier to balance work and home life.
“Parents who are tired, stressed and stretched to their limits are not in the best position to raise happy contented children.”
– Dr Amanda Gummer
The parent-centred parenting model recognises how important it is for parents to fulfil their own mental, emotional and physical needs in order to be positive role models for their children, which is key for a child’s development.
With the new shared parental leave, grandparents are seen as valuable members of a baby’s early life, benefitting themselves and the child while taking some of the pressure away from working parents and helping them become better role models for their children.
Photo Credit: Grandparents Day by Poughkeepsie Day Schoolgrandparents, parental leave
Categorised in: parenting advice
This post was written by Anna Taylor