Lately I've been giving this article about paying grandparents for childcare some thought. When we first came to Japan last fall, I thought we'd be lucky because we'd be living near family members (i.e. with my MIL and FIL and next door to other relatives) and that we'd be getting some childcare. I think I was under the impression that since they basically asked us to come here to help out while my FIL was unable to do his regular farm work and because my MIL was really worried about maintaining the family household here in Japan, that we'd be getting support.
After all, we're the ones who had to uproot our family and move halfway across the world. This move came after they gave us their blessing at our marriage 3+ years ago to live in the US and care for my parents as they age. My husband, being the eldest son in the family was essentially freed by this and we thought it worked out nicely. We figured my brother-in-law (5 years younger than my husband) could care for my parents-in-law especially since BIL lives 15 minutes from here. My sister and her husband will likely have to help out his divorced parents one day, thereby doubling the responsibility they've got. My parents are perfectly able to live on their own right now, but it gave me some peace of mind to know that I could be there for them one day. (And we assumed we'd help out if my in-laws needed anything, we just didn't think we'd live here long-term.) Sounded great. Meanwhile, we were living in Seattle, "halfway" between Gboy's family in Japan and my family on the East Coast of the US. No family had a monopoly on us.
By the time we leave Japan this summer, Peanut will have lived half her life here and just about every day of her time in Japan will have been lived with her Japanese grandparents. My parents, who waited years for their first grandchild (Peanut) are surely disappointed that they don't get to be the grandparents she lives with. The fact that we're thousands of miles away and 17+ hours by plane makes travel quite hard for them. Since they'd be able to see us more if we still lived in Seattle, this has certainly cut into their grandchild time. Taking all of this into consideration, it's occurring to me that maybe I'm somewhat resentful of our time here. On the one hand, I love it, and think it's priceless for Peanut. On the other hand, I feel like my in-laws kind of owe us and should be thankful we've given them so much access to their granddaughter (their 3rd grandchild of 4) especially at my parents' expense (Peanut is their only grandchild thus far).
Yet childcare has been infrequent to say the least. My FIL is useless in that regard and my MIL has been too busy working part-time, visiting with friends, hiking, and otherwise pursuing her own hobbies. When childcare does happen, it's generally for approximately 2 hours and it looks more like something they need to do in addition to the weeding or housework, etc. My parents in the little time they get to spend with Peanut, play with her like crazy. Hug her, love her. It doesn't show up that way with my in-laws and while some of it may be cultural (i.e. aversion to showing too much affection) some of it is likely just this family. I get that. But it makes me sad and a little angry to feel like we've sacrificed so much and getting a couple of hours of baby-sitting is so hard to come by.
Do I think I should pay Peanut's grandparents for childcare? I can't see my parents ever accepting money for the pleasure of spending time with their granddaughter. Maybe it would be different if they had 12 grand kids, but they don't. Anyway, I see the point of offering my in-laws some kind of payment, but frankly feel like I'm owed more than that. I hate to sound spoiled and entitled, but I think the resentment is greater than I had realized and this is how it manifests itself.
I'm so curious to hear the thoughts of others about reimbursing grandparents for childcare (both from those of you with Japanese in-laws and those of you without Japanese in-laws).