So, Who is Paying the Grandparent Tax?

Family |

A mother of two in Winnipeg, Canada realized that childcare in her area was really poor. She searched for a solution that would work for her youngest child but to no avail. When she returned to work, her parents had helped her out.


She was hoping once her oldest child started school, she could rely less on their help but it just didn’t work out that way. She decided to reach out to her in-laws to help out but that would come with a cost.

After a few months, she noticed her kids’ room was loaded down with toys from the Dollar Store and both kids started begging to go to McDonald’s every Wednesday night. On top of that, when it came to bedtime, she discovered they did not have a room to stay in while at their grandparents.

Nagging Feeling of Rules being Ignored

Maybe you have experienced something very similar, what some like to call the Grandparent Tax. Although you might save a lot on childcare fees, there are hidden costs you might not have taken into consideration. 


It’s really frustrating to deal with indulgent caregivers who do not abide by the rules you have set down. You know too many trips to McDonald’s will not destroy your kids and, after all, they are building bonds with their grandparents. 

That said, there is still that nagging feeling of rules being ignored which has caused a strain in your relationship with your in-laws.

Many parents may choose to remain quiet and not rock the ship. 

Another mom, with a 3-year-old and another on the way, knew her in-laws were doing a wonderful job looking out for her kids and she knew they were in the hands of people who loved her and her kids. 

She realized they were doing her an incredible favor so she kept quiet but, over time, it started to build resentment.

So, How to Cope!?!

Coping can be a little difficult. According to Maghan Maynard, a registered psychotherapist and director of Family Kinnerctions believes rather than letting things get out of control, you should air out your differences but do it with tact and be kind. 


You should have two-way communication to reach an agreed arrangement. 

Parents need to identify what is important to them when it comes to rules and discipline while grandparents can discuss their desires and limitations. This will be a great moment for both parties to come to terms in regard to arrangements that they can all understand.

Maynard suggests using Dialectical Behavior Therapy when you need to get your point across in a clear but kindly manner. 

This is known as DEARMAN:

Describe the Situation - Give your parents a rundown on the present problem which they might not have any idea about.

Express Your Feelings - Just explain your concerns and why it’s important.

Assert Your Wishes - Let them know what you would prefer they do and discuss an alternative plan of action.

Reinforce Or Reward The Request - Let them know what’s in it for them and how your requests can be very beneficial for them.

Stay Mindful - Focus on the current problems and stay away from piling on past situations.

Stay Assertive – Always have eye contact while remaining confident without yelling or becoming aggressive.

Negotiate – Keep an open mind and hear what your parents have to say and then find a middle ground.

This approach can work as a good starting point for many more discussions between both sides.

Pick Your Battles Carefully

While the above approach can help to open up discussions, there is a fine art in choosing what to bring up and what you should just forget. 


Keep in mind, your parents are providing a great childcare service to you. 

As parents, it’s up to you to be flexible and what areas you will not budge on. Also, when bringing up issues, it wouldn’t hurt if you mention how much you appreciate your parents’ help and the many things they are doing really well. 

Remember, no one likes to feel they are unappreciated.

Where to Draw the Line

There are times that airing out the relationships will be difficult and keeping the peace is critical so some topics might be more trouble then they are worth bringing up.


If you get to the point that you and your parents cannot find a middle ground, yo may have to accept that this just will not work and the arrangement is tearing your family apart. 

You might even discover that your parents feel the same way. Your parents will still have time with your kids just more on an intermittent basis instead of daily. Remember, no arrangement is perfect but grandparents can still play an important part in your kids’ lives. 

Okay, so they service ice cream for dinner on a regular basis which is more often then you want. Keep in mind, the Grandparent Tax is actually a very small price to pay. For the care, your kids are getting.

Before making decisions, way all the pros and cons and decide if a few missed rules are worth losing your parents as great care providers for your kids. Remember, your parents love you and love their grandchildren.

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Sophie Amundsen

Writing empowers me. Free me. Let me spread my thoughts and feeling around the world and I love every minute of it.