When are you too old to look after a child?

too old to look after a child, too old to look after a toddler, should I ask my parents to look after my child

The other day, we went to soft play with Amy and while we were there, a little girl and her grandparents got me thinking. I assume they were her grandparents. They could have easily been her great-grandparents as they looked about the same age as my nan and granddad. Anyway, I found it lovely that the old couple were taking their granddaughter to soft play and tried to keep up with activities the little girl’s parents do with her, but when the girl threw a tantrum, ran off and her grandparents couldn’t cope, I felt nothing but sorry for them.

I tried to think what my grandparents would have done in a situation like that and then I thought that really, I wouldn’t have put them in a situation like this. My grandparents are 78 and 82 and although they look younger than they are and are still really active for their age, I would not ask them to look after Amy for me or take them up on offers of taking her to soft play. It think it just would not be fair on them. It is so much pressure to look after a child that isn’t yours when you are young and able to run after them, so I don’t want to know how stressed the grandparents of the little girl must have felt when she started getting grumpy and ran off. Her granddad tried “running” after her, begging her to come back and put her shoes on, but she was having none of it and climbed onto the second floor of the soft play area with her granddad standing at the bottom hoping she’d finally come down without him having to climb up a set of wobbly soft play stairs.

I just felt so sorry for the old man. He looked so helpless and vulnerable and I just wanted to go an help him. It’s a difficult situation though. I know that a lot of parents rely on their parents for child-care while they are at work and I know that a lot of grandparents want to spend quality time with their grandchildren, spoil them and take them to fun places. So where do you draw the limit?

I don’t want to be controversial or hurtful here, but I think that from a certain age onward, grandparents are unfit to look after young children. My parents are only in their late forties, so I wouldn’t be worried about leaving Amy with them, but I just wouldn’t feel confident leaving Amy with my grandparents. I love them to pieces, they are wonderful people and they absolutely adore her, but I would hate to leave Amy with them knowing what a whirlwind she can be. I would be worried that she’d run off during a walk and seriously hurt herself and I would be worried that my grandparents could risk their health by trying to chase after her. I would never forgive myself, if something happened to either of them.

So I am wondering, should parents find other arrangement for child-care, if their parents reach a certain age? When do you think, is someone too old to properly look after a child? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


  1. crystaljigsaw says

    I don't think it's a matter of age really, but of how fit they are. Some people in their 80's are fitter than me in my mid 40's. My mum is almost 70 and she's still very fit. I guess as a parent you have the right to judge for yourself whether you feel the older person is capable of looking after your child. There are lots of questions to ask, i.e. is your child hyper-active, does she/he have a disability, is she shy – so many. It really is a very personal opinion.

    CJ x

  2. says

    my nans are both in the early 70s and I wouldnt trust them with Thomas as they are both unsteady on their feet and one is getting a bit forgetful. Plus they both still think the old ways of doing this is best like making up bottles thicker to keep a baby full and so on

  3. says

    I would certainly leave my kids with my mum, she's active and only 60, but I couldn't leave them with my father in law who is in his 80s – but then I probably wouldn't have left them with him if I'd had kids 13 years ago when I met his my husband, as he's just not as active as my mum.


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