Granny, the nanny
Is it fair to leave an elderly parent to bring up your child, asks Masanda Peter.
One rainy morning I was heartbroken to see an elderly woman carrying a child on her back. The old lady was carrying two bags and walking with difficulty and I was wondering where the mother of the child was. At that age it is unfair to put such a responsibility on an elderly person. She should be playing the role of a grandmother and not that of a full time mother.

As a mother the joy and opportunity to leave my child with my mom would have been the best, but since she passed on I do not have that benefit.

But I know many women whose children live with their parents on a full time basis and in most cases far away from them. When it is time to go back to work after maternity leave, the child stays behind with the parents. For the mother, it eliminates the stress of having to go through different nannies or having to wake up and take the child to pre-school in the mornings or whatever the case may be.

I’m disappointed, though, to see how many grandmothers are playing the role of a nanny because mothers do not want to take responsibility or are lazy to look after their children. Some people have an unplanned pregnancy, and then the grandmother will be the one looking after the child while they go away to look for work or go back to school.

In some cases the same woman comes back with more children and dump with the mother. Yes, I am using the word dump because the only time they come home is when they are coming to leave the child.

In rural areas grandmothers are left to take care of the children while their daughters are in the cities and in some cases the daughters or sons do not even send money back home. Those grandchildren will be dependent on the poor woman’s meagre pension. I really think for grandparents to look after children occasionally is better - unless there is a real crisis or they volunteer to do so.

If you have a child - planned or unplanned- you then need to take responsibility for that child. As a single mother I have times where I wish my mother was here to help me with my son but I need to deal with my situation. Even if she was still alive I highly doubt if I would have placed such a responsibility on her.

 Of course there may be a crisis, or perhaps you want to take a holiday and grandmother’s house is the best place to leave your kids, maybe with a nanny assisting . How do you expect a woman over the age of 60 to wake up in the morning and prepare a child for school?

We should not abuse the blessing of having our parents around. I know of some grannies who put their foot down and refuse to play the nanny role and I think they are within their rights. But on the other hand you have those who insist on having their grandchildren staying with them.

To me, there should be a balance in the role played by grannies.

How involved do you think grandparents should be?

Read more by Masanda Peter

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