Grandparents Childcare

Now that my parents are retired, how can I get them to watch my children while still respecting their new-found freedom?

TIM KIMMEL: First of all, you need to recognize that when people get to the age where they can retire, they’ve worked a long time. They’ve had their face to the grindstone. They’re looking forward to some chance to relax, to see some things, to spend some of that money they saved up, and that’s a good thing, and you want to encourage them and not make them feel guilty about that.

But at the same time, this is probably one of the most strategic roles they can play in your life, is being a mentor and a pacesetter for your kids.

And so, there’s ways to talk to them to help them see that maybe they could broaden their horizons on that.

DARCY KIMMEL: One thing you might do is just say, “Hey, Mom and Dad, now that we have kids, I really see the value of having you around, and I would love for you to be here to lend your maturity, your experience, your perspective to our family. We don’t want to tie you down, but our kids really enjoy being with you.”

So maybe you could come up with some ways, some suggestions that say, “Hey, you know, do you think maybe you could be here on these holidays, on the kids’ birthdays? We’ll try to make it easy for you.”

But the best way to convince them to be around is just to show them how much you appreciate them and the value they have to you.

TIM: Let me give you two words you want to use with them. Say, “Look. We don’t want you to be symbolic grandparents in our kids’ lives. We want you to be substantive grandparents. We want you actually play a role that touches their heart, not just their schedule and a few high points in your life.”

And let me just weigh in. This is one man’s opinion, but as I look at this from the perspective of a baby-boomer, and I think of this distorted view of retirement that came over the past forty, fifty years—this idea that you hit 65 or whatever, and then you move to a gated community, and you just hang out with people your own age, and you listen to the music that was popular back when you were in high school, and you play golf every day, and you play bridge, and you want to make sure you’re at happy hour—I could not think of a crazier way to waste the rest of my life.

I realize that that sounds kind of blunt. I don’t mean to stand in condemnation. I’m just saying that there’s a generation coming along that doesn’t think that way, and I think we’re right in the middle of it. We don’t want that kind of a life.

Let me tell you what the statistics are showing. A big study came in recently. You know what happens when you retire and you don’t have a real good reason for getting up every morning, you don’t have a purpose for living? You die. That’s what happens. You die fast.

We’re supposed to live our lives and take big breaths every day and make a difference.

And I’ll tell you what. There’s no greater difference you can make than in the grandkids’ life, because you already have a natural affinity to them, and they to you.

DARCY: What you need to do is make the assumption that your parents want to continue to have a relationship with you and your children, and so come up with a compromise that allows them to take advantage of this wonderful, new opportunity that retirement affords them, and also continue to have a part in your family.

TIM: Listen, we’re Starbucks grandparents. We’re rock-and-roll grandparents. We’ll never be like anybody before us, but I just hope that you can convince your parents to play a big role, and be that Starbucks parent, that rock-and-role parent right in the middle of your family, touching the lives of your kids.

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