20% of daughters-in-law found that their relationship with their mothers-in-law changed for the worse after giving birth. Becoming parents is a challenge in and of itself and some of us have no choice but to return to work as soon as possible. One Bright Side reader experienced some tension in her life after her MIL asked for payment in exchange for babysitting her grandchild.
Bright Side received this letter and we wanted to help Amy with some advice, we hope this will ease her situation and we’re curious to see how you would approach it.
Hey Amy! Thank you for your letter! The Bright Side team got together and debated this situation and here’s the best advice we could find:
Try to understand why your MIL might be asking for payment in exchange for caring for her grandchild. You said your MIL retired recently — according to experts, retirees worry about outliving their savings. This might be a reason for your mother-in-law’s suggestion. The only way to find out is to have an open discussion, which brings us to the next point.
Talk to your mother-in-law. Schedule an open, honest meeting and, in a calm, grown-up way, tell her how you feel. The talk might derail and get off the right track, so we prepared a 3-step guide on how to avoid turning your discussion into a fight/argument.
Step 1: Don’t presume your mother-in-law will react negatively.
Step 2: Say how you feel without the need to justify anything. For example, “I feel misunderstood,” instead of, “I feel misunderstood because you have asked for Y.” — by using the former, you invite your mother-in-law to a discussion without forcing her to become defensive.
Step 3: Emphasize what you do, not what you don’t.
Qualified stranger or loving relatives — Which one would you choose? Remember, hiring a qualified babysitter is probably more expensive than what your MIL would ask for. At the end of the day, think about how you and your husband would feel more comfortable. Moreover, keep in mind that your MIL raised the person you’re spending the rest of your life with, so she must’ve done a lot of things right in terms of parenting.
Try to find other solutions. Daycare comes with its own ups and downs — higher costs and stress, plus, it might involve more input from both of you (like bringing your baby to and from daycare). Moreover, there will be days when your child has to stay at home, and then, you’ll need to find someone you can count on to babysit at the last minute anyway.
Most grandparents don’t expect to be paid for babysitting, however, it’s totally reasonable for them to get paid. Caring for a child can be a full-time job. Feeding them, changing them, and keeping an eye on the kid at all times are not easy tasks, especially in old age.
We hope this advice will ease your situation and that, no matter what happens, your relationship with your mother-in-law only changes for the better.
Do your parents ever take care of your baby? Have you ever thought about paying or compensating them for their time? How would you respond if a family member asked you for payment in exchange for babysitting? Let us know in the comments.