grey space

Published on September 14th, 2015


Why I refused to take care of my grandkids

Mandakini Mashelkar refused to become a full time babysitter for her grandchildren. What caused this refusal? This is her story.
As told to Reyna Mathur

Everyone says that as parents, we must do everything to protect our children. In India, we go to extreme lengths to ensure that our children are happy. Even when they grow up, we run to assist them and make their life easier. I was one of those parents, too.

My husband and I ran a garment business together in Pune, and we shifted to Mumbai in 1996. Since then, we settled into our life in the city fairly quickly. Ever since we had our two children – my sons Sangram and Sanket – we had been focussed on giving them the best life ever. And we did. Our sons grew up to become engineers, and both of them got jobs in US-based companies. It was just a matter of time before they went to work abroad. Five years ago, my younger son went to the UK with his wife, and a year later, Sangram went to Germany with his fiancee.

Two years ago, my husband and I went to Germany when Sangram’s wife, Maitri, gave birth to their son. We stayed there for four months to assist them while they took care of their baby. We had just returned home after this visit that Sanket asked us to come to the UK because his wife, Sonali was pregnant. On hearing this, my husband became silent.

A few days later, I asked him, “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t want to go,” he said.

“But they need our help!” I protested.

“I don’t want to go,” he repeated stubbornly.

A little digging revealed that he was uncomfortable doing ‘babysitting duties’ for our sons. As he spoke, I realised that what he was saying was true. Our trip to Germany had exhausted us. At our age, it was very difficult to care for an infant. While we were there, Sangram’s mother-in-law had also dropped in and she was to stay for six months. We were to go at the end of this period. “We can’t keep doing this,” my husband reasoned. “First Sangram’s baby, then Sanket’s baby. We can’t keep shuttling between countries like this.”

The mother in me protested against the wife in me – my sons needed our help while they took care of their young children and their jobs. But then my husband said the most important thing: “Whom did we call when we had our sons? You were managing our business with young sons in your lap. We did it. Our children will, too.”

When I told Sanket that we would not be coming, he was furious. He demanded to know why we could not help him after helping his brother. I explained gently that we would visit occasionally, but only for a few days. Staying at their homes, with nothing to do apart from taking care of the baby, came with its own problems: we did not have a car at our disposal, so we had to wait for our sons to come home and take us out. There was ample free time but nothing to do.

Both my sons were upset for a while. But my husband and I remained resolute. We will visit them both next year and stay for only a couple of weeks. In the meantime, we have travelled to five places in India and both of us have joined a gym. You could say that in our retirement years, my husband and I have a greater bonding and we are rediscovering our love for each other. Keeping active and living within our means has given us a good quality of life in our senior years.

My friends and our relatives think we are being selfish in not helping our children. I think we have already done enough for them. It is now our time to enjoy our retirement years.

Mandakini Mashelkar loves to cook, read and play chess. She lives in Thane with her husband, Anant. 

Note: Comments on this article are now CLOSED.

(Picture courtesy www.sereneretirement.comImage used for representational purpose only)

Tags: , ,

124 Responses to Why I refused to take care of my grandkids

  1. Ritika Bhandari says:

    You have a right to choose Aunty.. And times are changing, just this time – the elders changed.. If it would have been your kids, who decided to not take your help and you wished to help – it would be called hovering..

  2. BK Kansal says:

    That’s a perfect approach. We must live our life as we wish.

  3. Sarvesh Kapoor says:


    Aunty I love your decision… May god give you the strength to love and live happily…

  4. Sumaa Nair says:

    Hi Mam,

    What you did a great job….at least in this age we should be together and enjoy the life as we wished which we couldnt able to do..

    Thanks for this article. Real eye opener to alot …

    God Bless !!



  5. savitha says:

    Lovely, aged parents must stand up to such insensitive kids. It was high time someone said this out loud.

  6. Mamatha Singh says:

    Its the perfect choice they did, As helping them creates a dependency, who would never learn to manage and make a living.

    Everyone wants to give a bright future for their kids, but they do not want them to show the dark ,difficult parts of life.

    Ultimately the kids will end up taking help from their parents even in adulthood.
    When Elders did everything, they have lived life to extremes. Why cannot the younger generation do.

    Good Teaching of life ” We did it, our children will do it too “

  7. Vidya says:

    It is a good decision! However, I can’t stop thinking that would your decision remain the same, if you had daughters instead of sons

    • Kajal says:

      Totally agree with u there. Different with daughters to sons

    • Jennifer says:

      I agree with you. I’ve never seen parents say no to taking care of their daughters kids. I’ve seen parents do exactly the same as what this couple did with their sons’ kids.

      I completely agree that everybody should make their own decisions as to how to live their life but if we were brought up by our grandparents when our parents worked I hope at least they could help us when the become grandparents. And we will continue the cycle.

    • JOKAR says:

      Your way of thinking is stupid and arrogant
      . You money minded people. Stop treating ur parents and inlaws as free for life servants.

    • Susila says:

      Hi, I’m a daughter and my mom have taken the same approach. I don’t think it is about sons or daughters. It is about their golden years. Both my kids are taken care of by babysitter while myself and my hubby works. My mom worked 35 years in a company on shift work, and once retired, she is aiming to fulfill her hobbies and desires of travelling. She looked after us and worked tirelessly all this year’s. When she said she will visit from time to time and stay sometimes, I agreed. It is time for her to enjoy her golden years. Not trapped in the same routine until her time is up.

    • KJ Samuel says:


  8. Dont wish to display says:

    Well – It seems justified that you want to enjoy the retirement life – but a family is around to help each other when in need. A full time baby sitting is not required, I agree it is hard to run around toddlers. But this is an opportunity to spend time with grand children.

    Then when you are in old age and need – the unexplained expectation is – children should leave their careers and earning, relocate to India and care for the parents. The grand children who have got used to a different lifestyle have to adjust and care for you.
    If that is justified then I don’t see any issue in elders who are able to contribute in child care.

    You had your children, according to you – you did the best for them in getting them educated and well settled, you think you did well -Bravo. If you don’t expect anything back from them – then good. If you expect old age care – then it could be a debate, since they are busy caring for their children just the way they did in a place of their choice. To pay back for your contribution in their success – they will pay the old age home bills.

    A few hours a day will give some help. It goes a long way. Everything comes with a consequence. If tomorrow you are happy to spend time in an old age home without complaining that your sons did not care for you – then thumbs up. Its a good decision. You cannot have the cake and eat it too!…

    • Kirti says:

      Hello, from the account it doesn’t seem like this lady and her husband wish that their children should drop everything and care for them in a few years. They seem to be well settled from their business and are enjoying their time together. In fact because they have always been independent they seem to have made this decision. I don’t see anythign wrong in what she and her husband decided. We always have this concept of ‘families helping each other’. It is high time we realised that help is not always necessary to be given even in one’s old age. You are right in saying that they should not expect help if they cannot give it. But whether one drops everything to care for parents or not, one should not expect old parents to care for their children.



        Life is becoming artificial….you explained it well.

        • ritu says:

          it is totally justified for parents to say no to their kids…this family is across countries and everyone is not the same in adjusting to a new atmosphere. ..the kids could have moved closer to where the parents are if they want more grandparent involvement… we did that we moved near to my husbands parents as we wanted the grand parents close by our daughter goes to day care for 4 days and stays with her dada dadi for one day each week…its petty if the kids want to uproot their parents in old age from their social circle and life…i totallY support what these parents did…and about caring for old age Lets just b honest how many kids actually leave their jobs in europe and us to come to india for that even there they expect the old parents to shift


      i AGREE with you ….. its not just about making a sensational decision and cheast beating about it. People in India since ages have been doing it….taking care of grandchildren and then grandparents.

      Either way, nowadays there is a lack of bonding in the family. It just goes to say how much more difficult it will be for the grandparents when they are really in need to find the much needed psychological support not being there….because bonding comes with time. It just doesn’t happen because one is a son or daughter or father or mother or grandchild or grandparent… needs spending time.

      And taking care of infants/small kids is one of the most bonding times. I have seen the amount of bonding between kids raised by grandparents…it cant just happen overnight.

      In this case anyway the kids are away… can create a vaccum. When kids become parents and you become grandparents its all a first time experience….it has an ominous significance for the future…..yes old age homes are a good alternative.

      • Rohit Jain says:

        hey, its a good point you made that the FAMILY BOND is getting weaker, The lady and her husband may have taken the right decision seeing the present scenario, but the freedom of life in the old age is only going to last for some time, and truly there is no happiness greater than being with the whole family. Generally its the case with families who have struggled for a good life in the past, and varies form person to person.

        The problem lies at both ends actually, the kids also want their parents just for the time till their children need some day care. Once the kid grows up the sons of the lady themselves will be wanting to live like a nuclear family with just regular annual visits form the grand parents.

        So in a way it is good that the lady and the husband took a firm decision.

    • Huh says:

      Wot about the effort they spent in raising the kids? why are you not equating aged care with that ? Are u saying one has to take care of kids and their kids etc to deserve aged care ? This is the difference between unconditional parental love and how kids think. As parents it is the sons duty to figure out their lives for their kids. That’s the least they do. job or whatever.

    • p sravan kumar says:

      it is true visiting grand parents end up as full time baby sitters. while it becomes a kind of a need in countries, it is no way to treat parents. when young engineers relocate to a country outside india, they should also learn to live the life style of those countries. if they wish to, let them come down to be with their elderly parents once in a while, but let them not demand that their parents in old age end up as nannys! i support the decision by this senior couple and wish them good health!

    • Smitha says:

      There are so many people who inspite of parents doing so much for them, leave the old parents at old age homes. So this is not a matter of debate. This old couple have to their best of efforts provided to their sons, educated them and now the sons are so successful. This couple has done their duty towards their children and now they hav a right to live their life. Its their sons turn to look after their children. And also to take care of their old parents who raised them to be successful individuals.

  9. Debi Sen Gupta says:

    Perfect approach – children should remember that parents are not there to cater to them through their life.

    As for the fact of expecting help, who bought the children up so that they were sucessfl enough to settle abroad?

  10. Puja Jain says:

    You guys did the right thing. Every individual has the right to remain happy and make their own choices. I strongly feel about it. And for every parents to be- I think you should plan how you will take care of the children before trying to bring them in this world.

  11. JR says:

    That was a real foolish thing to do. Your children are not going to keep having babies year after year. What difference does it make whether you go next year and spend a few weeks or whether you go now and assist them when they do have a baby? If you look at the time investment, you probably have to spend about 2 months (with each son) and get back. You invested so many years bringing them up so what’s the big deal about another 2-3 months? Is it worth straining your relationship with your sons? They will obviously remember this for the rest of their life. These days, perhaps due to western influence, everyone is trying to rationalize their behaviour and patting themselves on their backs saying “I did the right decision for myself”, or “this is who I’m and how I’ll live” etc. Nonsense. If that’s the case, it just doesn’t make sense to get married in the first place. Dumb decision in my opinion.

    • Mohana Narayan says:

      Wow! So it is ‘foolish’ to refuse to take care of the grandkids for ‘another 2-3 months’ because the sons will ‘obviously remember this for the rest of their life’. What kind of logic is this? Taking care of one’s own children is tough enough, then we expect our old parents to do it, with their many health problems. We are so inconsiderate about what our parents want, we never even ask them if they want to do certain things! Just because they are older and retired, we assume that they have nothing else to do but run around helping us.

      • AC says:

        Fair enough! If the children don’t help them when they are older or when 1 partner is alone they have no one to blame.

        • Dont want to display says:

          And what about the help that the children received when they were raised by their who accounts for it !!! I guess it is forgotten anyways…

      • police says:

        Dude, so what if someone express converse opinion? Allow to express. Here everyone is swayed by article except this person. Learn to appreciate the free thinking and don’t expect everyone to agree to what you are thinking!

    • AA says:

      I strongly disagree with your opinion. I’m from the current generation and I feel, It’s awesome that our parents want to help us with every thing. But the bad part about it is we become lazy and dependent. I feel if we can’t take care of our babies, we shouldn’t be making them in first place. If parents want to come and help on their will, that’s great but we have no right to be mad and even expecting them to help. They have raised us well and make us strong and independent enough so we could take the responsibilities. And frankly, if we (the current generation) are getting mad at our parents choices then that’s wrong. Everyone is entitled to make their own choices (good or bad)

  12. md says:

    I grew up in Mumbai in the 90’s and would trade brining up my children in the 89’s in Mumbai to brining them up now in U.S. When I was growing up, my mom never had to worry about what to do with me when using the rest room. She did not have to spend the whole day with me, I had neighbors, cousins and a lot of house help. The work life balance was better at that time. Grandparents were around. Even if they didn’t do anything, they were there at home and could let the delivery person and the maid in. Compare this to the challenges that we have in our time. Equating being with grandchildren to baby sitting is unbelievable. They can enjoy their old age, but the children are not going to forget this and this is going to create a permanent rift. Everything comes with a price tag

  13. Archana says:

    Hello Aunty,
    Yes! it is definitely your choice. But deep within I feel its not right to abandon them when they actually need you the most. Yea I agree that you were able to run your business with kids in ur workplace. But do you think that is allowed in software offices these days. Being a new mother, I cannot imagine what would have happened if my mother in law was not by my side. So many misconceptions, so many google advisories to confuse new moms and I feel elders play a very important role in welcoming babies these days. I might sound a bit old school but I go by experience of a 50-year old mother and a 80-year old grand mother when it comes to my little one. Just my thoughts!

    • Gajalakshmi says:

      Yes.. You are right.. Without my mom’s help, my delivery period might have been difficult even to handle my little baby. Initial days they can be with us.. Later we can make it up.

      We can’t give the newborn to the babysitter.. They need the grandparents love.

  14. Nilakshi Roy says:

    Hobson’s choice really. If they had declared that it was very difficult and it’s not going to be possible after the first round itself, the second son might have accepted things. But life is not an equation, so you don’t take care of balancing each side, you say what you feel when you feel it strongest. Perhaps they are losing out on grandparently experiences …. However, there wasn’t much of a promise was there?
    Another thing they are probably quiet about or most people would never share is the way parents are treated once they are abroad, even expressly for taking care of the children. It’s as if they don’t know anything about health, hygiene and psychology and of course the little pleasures of childhood. Under such conditions, it’s impossible for anyone to stay the appointed six months or whatever. No doubt the elderly getleman preferred his freedom and dignity. Holidays are better exchanged rather than baby-sitting turns. Grandparents and grandchildren will bond in quality time anyway, rather than the kids observing how their parents mistreat theirs! Amen!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Your parents are not babysitters for your kids! They are not your servants!
    You want your parents to be babysitting them, then come stay with them in India.

    I am sure when your parents need you, you would not care to come back (not you, and not the other son for whom they traveled).

    Senior Citizens need someone to take care of them, speak with them. Its very much like babysitting. Would you come back to babysit them when they need you a few years later? No, then suddenly you would be too busy with your career and grown-up kids.

    • Kavya Holla says:

      I totally agree with you, and I am disturbed to note that people actually expect parents to take care of their kids under the guise of ‘helping out’ and ‘bonding’. The fact is, you should think about childcare options BEFORE you have children. Giving birth at the expense of our parents who might ‘like to help out’ is just selfish. Besides, how many of us relocate back to India when our parents need us? We are just happy to send money and think that it solves everything.

  16. Chandana says:

    Well done for making the choice that was right for you. As a nation us Indians are too obsessed with obligation and not enough with fulfilment. If you had gone to the UK then you would have been obligated to take care of the grandkids, your daughter-in-law would have been obligated to cook and clean and take care of you in a certain way and in the future the grandkids would be obligated to do their parents bidding to a certain extent. So everyone is working very hard to please everyone else but aren’t feeling fulfilled in their own lives.

    If we all live and let live, whilst at the same time being kind and considerate of others, we’d be much happier in my opinion.

  17. Naveed says:

    Hello Aunty,
    I am sure that whatever decision you have made is not taken lightly. A lot of thought has probably gone into it and I don’t want to judge it as right and wrong. As a working mom of 2 young kids in the US and having been brought up by a working mom in hard circumstances I can only share my perspective of what has changed in the times between raising children in the 70/80’s in India and raising kids abroad today. Young working immigrants have to work much harder and longer to succeed in these competitive fields. We are also auto wired by our own upbringing to value financial security and reach the top of our potential. Having worked very hard ( not just us but our parents too are a big reasons for our sucess today) to achieve the most of our potential it is not easy or maybe even fair to easily discard what we have struggled and achieved.Countries like USA , UK, Germany etc do not offer good domestic help unless you are in very developed parts like Silicon Valley etc. Even there the help is limited and exhorbitant. Without help from family especially in the first year of a baby’s birth you would have to almost be a super human to take care of everthing- nursing/feeding/household chores/doctor visits /your office work ( no one gives you a slack in this super competitive environments). Hoping for short term help from family is not an unreasonable expectation. If families can reach a middle ground where there is hired help from sitters and grandparents just fill in shorts gaps without being 100% tied to the baby that is an ideal solution. We all have to change with times ( both parents and kids) but if it can be done in a manner that helps our nearest and dearest and ensures happier lasting relationships , shouldn’t one give it a try even if it means some short term adjustments ? Goes both way – kids taking care of elderly, sick parents Or parents helping kids during their most challenging times. These periods of hardships fly by quickly in the grand scheme of life even though in the heat of moment they seem long and unending. But are they worth it? Depends on your priorities and what you value the most in life.Just food for thought…

    • Lalitha S says:

      Naveed’s comment seems fair and in tune with my own thinking. To the extent possible, I feel that parents could spend a few months with the new parents and grandchild, at least during the first year. A daughter or daughter-in-law may not have the financial freedom to give up a job. So, at least during the crucial first year, the first six months especially, some parental help will prove useful. I also feel that grown up children should be there for their aged parents until their final years. In a country like Sweden, the aged are cared for completely by the state. The 50% income tax paid for during working years is fully paid for by the services offered to aged people. Sadly, in an overpopulated country like. India, one cannot expect such scenarios.

    • ritu says:

      in thay case kids can always shift back to india or atleast the new mother can…in germany and uk mothers can take upto 5 months of paid leave and an additional 7 months of unpaid leave….i took 1 and half year of leave for my child and i see its totally undoable to put my profession on hold a second time so i am not having any further kids
      but i dont expect either of our parents to baby sit
      we wanted our daughter to grow near her grandparents and cousins so we were the ones who shifted across countries
      shifting for few months is not like taking a vacàtion its about living in a completely new atmosphere with no frnds or relatives around and some old people dont like that my dad-in-law lives a very active life in his community i cant even think changing it for him and both my own parents are active lawyers so i cant imagine them sitting in my house playing with my daughter for months without getting bored off their wits

      we visit the parents and we can always ask them to have my daughter for sleepover or for few days if we want to spend some time on a couple holiday and all 4 grand parents love it

    • Ranjini Prabhakar says:

      I am a grandmother who totally agrees with you Naveed.While I agree the grandparents should do what they wish ,I cannot help feeling sorry for them.I just cannot forget the moment when the doctor placed my new grandson in my arms, would never ever compromise on that .It’s eleven years since I first came & now I have made US more of my permanent home than India, purely my own choice,I am not a baby sitter , never was but I am there for my grandsons when they return from school, listen to their stories of how their day went, cheer them in school events and try to follow Indian traditions & festivals which I want them to associate with.The couple I feel have taken a severe stand , they are missing out on greeting their grandkid into the world, & this I feel is a very big deal & compromise.

    • Jyoti says:

      I live in the US, settled here. My husband and I are raising 2 happy successful kids on our own without any help from our parents. We never called our parents to look after our children. It is just not fair to them. Whenever they came to US, we made sure to spend time with them, take them out and have fun with them and not turn them into babysitters. A lot of families in US make their parents stay at home, while the couples go out for movies and get together etc. That is totally taking advantage of your parents.

      I have sacrificed a lot on the job. I have said no to travelling as I didn’t trust strangers taking care of my kids in my absence. I have said no to staying longer at work as I didn’t want my children to grow up in day care. These are all the choices we made. Between your wife and you, someone will have to sacrifice a few things on their career too and but raising kids on your own will be immensely satisfactory as well. And, trust me, your children will appreciate that throughout their lives too. My daughter at 13, greatly appreciates all the sacrifices I have made for her on my career front.

      Your children are your responsibility. Why can’t your wife and you make some adjustments with your career during the formative years of your children? Instead of blaming the parents and equating them with maids and baby sitters, one of you could give up on fast promotions and more money. Have you thought of that? Having kids is not a challenging time. We have made it challenging because the young parents don’t want to give up on their life. Parents sick and old, are definitely challenging. Don’t equate them.

  18. Venkat says:

    Respect, salute, prayers to sir and mam. Though it’s a known fact, you made it simple and clear. Yes, things should change. Tradition culture change not only for younger generation.

    • AC says:

      Yes and India should be prepared for more old age homes. Because when they are older and one partner survives that is where they will probably be living.

  19. Sulagnaa says:

    You are indeed selfish. Your son was not asking you to sacrifice your new found happiness with your husband forever. He was just asking few months of support where he was not able to rely on any other support that money can buy. Today if you fall sick….a serious one… Not just a viral fever… Will you not expect your sons to be with you? Possibly your generation will expect much more than what we will do when we are old. Having a baby is a life event. In surprised how detached you are… You didn’t want to see your grand child’s face when they are born. You didn’t want to be with your son and share one of the biggest event in his life. If we don’t stand by in time of need then what is family for? Why call it family? God forbids when you or your husband is on death bed…. Imagine if your sons don’t come and stand by… For parents like you that should be the way….Great… When children do wrong they are criticised so much…i took liberty to criticise selfish patents like you… Get prepared to be very very lonely.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with you. I wonder if it would be the same way had the kids been in India? I have been blessed to have my parents and in-laws around to help me when I had kids. And they were not just here to help, we rejoiced in the joys of the new family we all made together. Their frequent visits is the reason my kids are so close to them. Granted I can’t provide them friends here like they have back home. But the love and affection of the grandkids that they get, it cannot be replaced by anything. And I am a 100% sure they feel the same way I do.

    • Dont want to display says:

      I counld not resist writing after reading the above comment. Sulagnaa, I guess equating a child birth to disability/deathbed etc shows how unreasonable you are in your thoughts. Raising a child is your responsibility if you choose to have one, it is in no way your parent’s responsibility. Wanting your parent to baby sit for your children because you took a choice of being in a place where baby sitters are exorbitant or not available is like treating your parents like maid servants. Who is selfish here think about it. You want to be away from your parents to built your career and find your happiness and you expect your parents to sacrifice their happiness for yours and your careers, who is selfish?

      It is so sad to read comments where we are debating whether we should be present for our old parents who are disabled or diseased. I am sure you are in no way completely diabled after your child birth, you are still have energy, vitality and reasoning ability after your child birth. Your parents may fail to have all these three by the time they would have crossed their 80s. So should you not take care of your parents? your choice.

      According to me a person who is disabled / diseased or in deathbed would not ask for your support, and any self-respecting senior citizen would have avoided to put their children into the trouble of taking care of them, but it just happens that they have no other choice. But, on the flip-side where is the self-respecting child who still treat their parents as baby sitters just for the sake of earning more money or not wanting to spent on baby sitters in the guise of saving money or even worse in the guise of family bonds.

      I think your comment is disgusting to say the least…and I completely disagree to such tradition and family bonding where the bonding takes away self-respect and independence.

      I advice you not to bear children if you cannot take care of them…

      • Trinity says:

        All the people condemning the decision have a give and take mindset so entrenched in their psyche, that they will continue to believe they are being right in their demands. Doesn’t take away from the fact that the parents have already done their job by making children stand on their feet.
        Asking for anything more is just selfishness, economics on the pretext of bonding. And the worst of the lot are the ones who are threatening the argument with old age homes. The ones who are considerate will be their with their parents in their old age, irrespective of the condition that they play the role of nanny in the first year of childbirth or not.

  20. Jyoti says:

    Kudos to Mrs. And Mr. Mashelkar.

    All this talk about bonding and sharing the greatest moment of the son’s life is baloney. If the sons cared so much about bonding and great moments, they can relocate to India for a few months and have their kids in the same city where the parents live.

    And I disagree with those who think that parents would have dealt differently had these been daughters instead of sons. When I was giving birth to my second child, my first born was still an infant and I needed help. My mother refused to relocate as she had a life where she lived. I relocated for a few months because I needed help. Now, my mother and my kids bond during vacations when she comes over or they visit her.

    Why should it be the parents who should have to move around at their age?? You want help, take a leave and travel to where ever your parents live. Simple.

    No grandkid and grandparent ever bonded right after childbirth because the grandparent changed nappies. That is just an excuse of the selfish kids to get their parents to work for them for free as baby sitters are expensive in foreign countries and many a times unreliable.

    Wayy to go!!

  21. Jatin says:

    Hello Aunty,

    I may sound a little different as to what most of people are saying on this post. I have lived in US for 7 years and then moved back to India for good. I’m now married and blessed with a 15 months old baby. We are so lucky in India that we have so many people around us when we need help (esp. Joint families). Even grand parents are busy here, so we keep full time nannies to help out nursing mothers & infants as its quite a task in very early stage. So, I m really thankful for my mother n helpers around my wife who tuk great care of both of them. I just can’t imagine doing this in US without any support as there are no maids n you can’t just trust an expensive stranger spending entire day with your wife n baby while you go to work. It’s just my opinion but I personally think, supporting your son with your own grand kid at the most important time should really be your priority & should be seen with proud and responsibility rather than an imposed free of cost service! I’m sorry but I’m not against your gym n travel plans…that’s awesome! But just 3 more months couldn’t have cost you so much…and then you could have spent your retired life with your own terms…just my take!

  22. Priya says:

    You did what you felt right…however, I agree with some of the comments here:
    -if it had been your daughter then will you have done the same thing ? Since you don’t have a daughter, let me answer it for you, NO.
    -if you are sick and need help, who would you turn to ? You would not hesitate to sarcastically comment your sons for not coming to their help.
    -You could always ask to have a helper at home while you just make sure that nothing bad happens to your grand children. Money wise your sons will not save a penny, it is just for mental peace that nothing bad happens to the baby with the baby sitter.

  23. Nv says:

    Hi Mandakiniji,
    I am of your son’s age and i am so proud of you for having taken the decision for yourself. You have struggled all your life and you have every right to take the decision for yourself. If your children love you truly, they will understand this bit sooner or later and will be proud of you as well.

    Long live happy couples like you. I wish you instill some good thoughts in my parenta ninds as well.

    Proud of you

  24. Elizabeth says:

    Why is everyone making the lady look like some villain? Nobody seems to factor in the first twenty odd years of the two sons where the parents did everything they could and should. I know that most Indian parents go abroad to help their children when the babies come, but most children settled abroad don’t resettle or come back when the parents need them in their last days. Please remember that after the children leave their nest, there is actually just a few years left for parents to live life the way they want. Time is running out for them. So, let them live for themselves for at least sometime.
    In any case, the children want the parents to come only because nannies don’t come cheap. If servants were available for a pittance, how many children would want parents around? Pure economics!

    • These comments that children don’t come back or resettle back home when their parents are old or ill is nonsense. Cities in India are full of returning NRIs most of whom are back because of familial commitments.

  25. Karthik says:

    Not really, I respect her opinions and parents have the freedom to refuse to help, but I guess it’s not the same as what they went through. Raising kids without help and trying to have a progressive career is very challenging. There should be balance. As working couples, we have to help out each other and pitch in to help parents as well. I’m saying because I have been there, done that.

  26. Karthik says:

    Every family’s requirement is different, hope people don’t get influenced from her writing.

  27. pooja says:

    What I like is their honesty , taking onus of refusing their kids and still confident and contended with their decision.

    I have come across grandparents who spend no time with their grandchildren living in the same house in joint family.

    Fair or Unfair I would leave on their sons and them!

    Hope little bundles of joy love their grandparents a lot !

  28. AC says:

    This is all fine as long as they are fine with not getting help when they need. Its foolish to think we don’t need help. All people in this society need help at some point regardless of age. They should think when they are in their 80’s 90’s or when only one partner remains how will you feel they (your sons) say that I want my life my independence. I don’t understand this.The way I think is when I need help you help me if you can. When you need help you have a surgery, illness etc. I leave everything and help you. This is how the world goes.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Hello Aunty,
    I really respect your decision. I don’t have kids but my sister does. And my sister has never enlisted my parents help for baby sitting. Even when my parents visit her, she makes sure that the kids go to day care when she has to go to work or she stays at home along with them so that my parents don’t have to do all the work.

    That is not to say my parents did not help her – they were definitely of infinite help to her for all emergencies she faced. At the same time my parents also enjoyed spending time with my sister and her kids, were able to form a relationship as grandparents, enjoyed pampering them while also helping them grow.

    I think the point I am trying to make is, I completely agree with you that parents should not become full time baby sitters, but I hope you also get the opportunity to bond with your grandkids – if that is something you want.

  30. Sriram says:

    From one perspective, your decision is correct. Simply doing babysitting is not a useful way of spending time at your sons’ homes abroad. However, if you framed the opportunity in a broader context, your decision could have been different. You are still healthy. You can use these travels to learn more about your own kids and their wives, the country they live and so on. You think you really understand your kids? Think again. If you see travel opportunities (undertaken for babysitting) as a way to expand the range of your experiences, then you are better off doing these trips during this stage of your lives. These opportunities won’t come back again. The only reason not to do these trips is if you both are stuck at home and have no means of traveling independently now and then and collecting new experiences. You can’t do this as easily when you are older (say in 10 years time). My parents spent a few months with us and it is easily among the most cherished times for all of us.

  31. Anonymous says:

    I respect your decision but think about it once when your children needed you the most, You were not there with them. You couldn’t go there just because you had to take care of baby but you are ready to go next year for few weeks because you are happy to do it. Did you talk to your son and told him to hire a nanny while you will be there. You could have asked him that we can come for few weeks not for months and hire a nanny also since it’s difficult at this age to handle a new born. Think about your daughter in law, no one was there to look after her personally after her delivery. Many times after delivery we need someone around emotionally too. No one is there to give her good food while she is going through after delivery recovery.
    I believe this is the only time when a women needs her mother in law most. If a mother in law will take of her daughter in law like her own daughter at this time. She will take care of you always for sure.
    Tomorrow when you will go to visit them. Will they be happy?? They wouldn’t have question in mind. I wish my parents came that time too for few weeks. We couldn’t go through that much pain. But time is changing if kids are becoming selfish than parents are doing the same. Than how could you expect them to be there for you.

    I am sure you must be feeling that your story will set an example for elders but believe me after reading your story none of the kid will feel good. They must be having only one question In mind. Really time is changed this much?? Till now we heard about kids are not there for their parents but now we have your example too.

  32. Sandeep Gaudana says:

    This is extremely personal and equally sensitive issue. Though no two situations are exactly the same, i totally agree with the grandparent’s decision in this case. They have no obligation whatsoever of filling in as babysitters. I read a couple of comments speculating they might need their son(s) to look after them in their further older age. I would feel ashamed if i know that their children did not respond to tend their medical emergency or old age induced condition because the older parents “failed to keep their end of bargain”. Agreed that they are earning in foreign currency, but hopefully they have not sold their humanity and culture to the highest bidder.

  33. I too am a grand mother and I too visit my working daughter only when there is a need, like illness or shifting. I feel grand parents will not have the same energy as parents to take care of kids. My daughter is managing her busy career and her daughter very well. We are a sandwich generation who listened to our elders and now we are forced to listen to our kids. Thankfully my kids understand when we say that they have to take over all the responsibility of the household and take care of us as well. We too deserve a carefree retired life.

  34. Absolutely wonderful… As we age it is imperative that we focus more on our own passions and lead an “active” life of our own. By doing so, our children too learn to depend on themselves. In the US and in the UK, alternate support systems are available for new parents.

    Yes the birth of a grandchild is a life changing event for the parents and the grand parents too and is a creation of new life on the planet. Being with them in those moments is imperative, but not as glorified baby sitters !!

    The earlier joint family system supported this in many ways. But the global citizen of today is not bounded by national borders and is free to chart his/her own course anywhere on the planet. The parents/grandparents may not necessarily be so comfortable in a new land for long durations.

  35. A daughter says:

    Extremely disappointed to read your great accomplishment aunty. Truly shows the difference between a mother and a mother in law. I am sure you wouldn’t have taken this decision if it was your daughter giving birth to a baby.

  36. urright says:

    My mom shuttled to and fro to UK, US as my older sister’s kids ayah, baby sister etc. as the role demanded taking great pride. Today 20 years later she has zero bond with both my sister and her kids; They rarely visit and she is left uninvited.
    I on the other hand live in India with simpler aspirations and she now imposes “help” on me which I do not need!
    Luckily in your case you agreed with your husband whereas mom was not very educated and she never agreed with dad and would keep flying off on these “maid” expeditions and come back and crib bitterly in private while gloating amongst her friends.

    Don’t ever worry/nor think that by your decision your sons will not take care of you in your old age…trust me…such sons would not anyway, other than the cursory duty and to feel less guilty and with zero love. Both, parents and adult kids in India, face these dilemmas>> in some cases parents and some cases children with over-bearing mothers & parents who tell them what to d0!
    I’m myself at present not sure how the heck I should deal with an overbearing/needy (in turns) mother but,
    WITHOUT DOUBT what you did gets a double (thums up) (y) (y) from me!

  37. Calvin says:


    While I respect your decision, there is a slightly different view of mine. As you have 2 sons you might not more than 4 grand children. 4 months each would take an year and half at most. Ofcourse, you sons will expect you again as their kids grow up but at that time you can say no very strongly since you’ve helped during the grandkids infant stage. Please remember girls these days are not physically strong as your days. Also, the neighbor help is literally nonexistent abroad. I’m sure you might have small amount of helping hands from neighbors during your maternity. Also, guys have no idea about how to treat wife during post maternity despite all the internet knowledge. Those 4 months of help would’ve got you lifelong gratitude from your daughter in law.

  38. Lakshmi vinay says:

    My kids are at that age where being close to their grandparents is quite desirable. But from what i have seen, i would rather wish both the sets of grand parents a well deserved time of rest and relaxation than burdening them with my kids. I totally agree to what the couple feels. Just because parents have taken care of their kids, they can assume that they will be willing to do a round 2 for their grand kids in their old age too. Let them enjoy their life as they both step into the old age. Our kids are our responsibility. Let us tackle it like our parents did before us.

  39. urright says:

    @ Sulagna,

    My sister and brother-in-law(both doctors) availed /expected “maid/child-care services” for close to 8 years, not to mention sending their kids to India for long spells!
    I acted as mom-on-hand driving their kids to and fro doctors, taking care of medical/school related, raising kids and lot of other chores related to the kids upbringing, while supporting mom, as father’s health was failing.
    My father kept frail health for more than a decade but was fiercely independent and never expected anything. Other than cursory trips once in 2-3 years to take care of property related matters and shopping they both never had time for their parents on their visits to India! Recently my dad expired after prolonged hospitalization>>while my husband and I took turns at the hospital duty and take care of mom as well(as we have kids too)—during this period, there were just 2 phone calls…one of which was to my father (a pleasant and soft-spoken highly erudite gentleman) prolonged accusations aimed at severely bedridden dad…he was a heart-broken man and a man who never expected anything from anyone other than sharing, giving, love and help in everyway possible to those who needed..broke down at wept!
    She came after death to claim amongst relatives that she took care through phone calls…(seriously deluded and totally false), even when asked if she thinks what she did is right, before she left, she started accusations-galore in a loud voice, so I felt she is best left alone and my parents certainly did not need this(both the one alive and the one no-longer)! When people aspire beyond their ability, they make their parents guilty for their failure and use them! Once they scramble to the place they want, the very parents become unwanted garbage! SO, I think it is best that aged couples retain their dignity and make arrangements for their old-age when still they have a chance. They should not succumb to pressure tactics of needy children and later on suffer gross indignities! I know these are a matter of choice, there are others who can face grosser indignities and there are some who cannot suffer insults, be it parents or kids…so I know it is>>to each his own. Still, IMO, this aunty and uncle took the right decision and at least they can keep their head high! If their children wish, they can visit/invite and keep the family bonds strong too…the onus does not always have to be on the parents!

  40. Manu says:

    Hello Aunty,
    I respect the decision that you took. I grew up in India in a nuclear family. I went to daycare there and turned out to be absolutely fine. My mom dad were working and they brought me up themselve without anyone’s help. I am settled in US and had seen my friends n family taking help from their parents with new born babies before we were expecting ours. I agree that there is tremendous help with new born baby but also realise that it can be very challenging for old aged parents too. That’s when we decided that if our mom dad can do it, so can we. We didn’t ask anyone to come for help. Both my mom and mom in law were always there to help me via phone if i had any concern. My hubby n I worked as a team to meet all challenges (there were quite a lot in our case). I joined work when my daughter was 6 months old and she went to daycare and she is very smart and bubbly girl now. Our parents from both side visted us when she turned one. Both of us are professionals and have very busy job, but still believe in raising our child as a team.
    Please don’t get discouraged by anything. Your children will understand you as well. You did what you felt was right!! This is a very subjective situation. Each person reacts to this differently. There is no right or wrong. You just took a step further to mae your children little more independent 🙂

  41. Soma says:

    Right decision! I really respect that you stuck to what you feel and not give in to what is expected… I am raising two children in USA and I had no help. I had lost my mom just before I delivered and under circmstances my husband and I managed to take care of our newborn and another one four years later just by ourselves. While things do get easier with help from parents, it is not an impossible task to do raise our own kids. In fact I feel we should be able to do it without calling our parents for the soul purpose of taking care of the baby and doing things around the home. If parents come, it should be to enjoy the time with grandkids and family…. not to stay stuck at home just for the purpose of looking after an infant and doing things around the home, with no freedom to move around and do things that you want, totally dependent on the kids. My dad visits us every year for a few weeks and I still feel guilty that he has to be dependent on us as he does not drive. I can imagine how suffocating it can get for a person who is free to move around at his own will back in India. Great decision!

    To those of who wrote about the expectation of the sons coming to see when they get sick – this is not a give and take situation or relation. It does not seem like they are expecting their sons to come and take care of them. It is to what the sons feel for their parents and also their own situations. If my parents did not want to come, would not mean that I would not go and help them if they needed. Relationship between parent and child is not to be based on obligations!

  42. Ramya says:

    I would call you selfish. Do not equate raising a child in india in the 80s to raising one in a different country. The birth of a child is such a huge event and even strangers help out when in need. My cousins neighbors cooked for her for two months when her mom’s visa got rejected. My cousin had a c section and it was so hard for her. If that neighbor can cook for two months could you not help yours for two months. And are you even proud of it. What sort of values are you teaching your children. Once a parent always a parent. You never stop being a role model. My sister in laws parents refused to come to us to help her out. She was only asking 6 months of their lives. But they refused for reasons best known to them. She was so hurt. She felt so betrayed. Here were the only people she could ask something from without any hesitation and those parents were letting her down for reasons best known to them. So what did we do. My mom had come to help me for delivery. I asked my brother to leave his child at my home. So me and my mom looked after my new baby, my brothers 1 yr old son and my 6 year old. Yes I did it. We did not want to uproot the child from parents but they did not have a choice. My brother could not afford a nanny with his stipend. Daycare was not an option because the child had repeated ear infections when he went to daycare. I helped my brother because his mom in law refused to help out while they gave exams. My life was chaos. There were days I looked after my brothers son more than my new born daughter. But that’s what families do. They lift each other up when needed. I helped my brother through my maternity leave of 12 weeks. He broke down and cried and thanked me. But I will never let my family down. I will be their rock whether they r mine or not. I love them.

  43. Ramya says:

    Oh I have to say this. While there are selfish parents like yourself. There are selfless ones like mine. I know I cannot be even half of what they are. They continue to sacrifice so much for me and my brother. We are indeed blessed. They continue to abide by what my grandfather said. Love all serve all. There is no limit to how much of others you can include in your lives. You of all people must read sadhguru article on the beauty of motherhood. He says that the beauty of motherhood is not in reproduction but in her sense of inclusion. Of how she sees her children as an extension of herself. I guess you never got that memo because u consider your son as someone u worked hard for in the past. I just hope that you never need your son’s help because if you have an iota of conscience when leaves comes to help you then you would feel so crappy. If he doesn’t then we’ll I wouldn’t say u asked for it.

  44. uma says:

    I wont say u r selfish. At least u r honest to ur feelings. Saying u will take care n betraying lateris worst situation later in life of kids. I would probably say just at yhe time of delivery n 5 to 6 months it would hv been gr8 to support them.
    When v compare ourselves with outside india cultures they dont support kids but also its not responsibility of kids to take care of parents. .. not same in india. So v need to balance.

    • Anonymous says:

      The idea that people outside India do not support kids and the kids have no responsibility towards the parents is a myth. It takes all kinds to make this world. We all think along these lines about people abroad but I have lived and seen how much parents do for their kids and kids for their parents when the time comes. They might live in separate homes, but family bonds are no different here than in India. Parents repay huge loans that their kids take when they are in college. Grandparents happily take care of the grandkids. They might not go and live in the same house, for people here like their independence and that includes the older generation. However, I have many colleagues whose parents have moved in with them when they were no longer strong enough to continue on their own.

      This comment had nothing to do with the original article. But I felt I should make a comment that families might look different in different parts of the world. But the core values are very similar. 🙂

  45. Sunitha says:

    I appreciate your decision and I personally think that is the right one. In fact, I keep saying that I will go for a world tour after I retire (my kid is 2 now)! Every one has to learn to take care of himself/herself and his/her family – it is absolutely unacceptable to turn around and say “father, mother please help me” every time life becomes a bit difficult. And it goes for daughters as well – I am a daughter myself (working full time in IT industry) and my mother stayed with me 1.5 months after my kid was born and I have no complaints! Its like when they taught us how to cycle – they will always be there to help we fall down. But only if we cannot get up ourself. And having a baby is not falling down, it is just trying to go through a difficult terrain. You just have to figure it out!

    There are some people who have commented that since they are not helping their sons now, their sons will not help them when they fall sick. What kind of logic is that??!! So all the effort they spent all their lives to raise their children should not count because on this one occasion they did not step up to their sons’ expectations? To be very frank, if the sons think like that I am pretty sure that they will find some other reason to not help their parents when their time comes! Just go ahead and book yourselves a room in one of these retirement homes.

    There are also some comments on how difficult/expensive it is for people staying abroad to get help. Come on now! Are grand parents just unpaid substitutes for maid/babysitter/housekeeper? Do you prioritize the money you make/save over your own parents? I am pretty sure that even the “exorbitant” salaries would still be lesser than the money you make every month. So why not just decide to let your savings take a hit for a year or two while you get paid help? I have personally seen grand parents stressed out to the point of falling sick when taking care of their grand kids (which incidentally also includes taking care of the household chores as well). Let the grand parents be there occasionally for bonding, but let the paid help also be there for taking care of the household chores and babysitting when the grand parents need rest. Also, how does the non-desi people in the countries that you stay in manage? Given that we always bash their “family values” it should be fair to assume that they dont get any help from their families, correct?

    Having said that, I wonder how their sons are managing now.. Is the burden of helping raise their sons’ kids are now fully on the parents-in-law’s shoulders? If that is the case, they need to have a serious talk with their sons.

  46. Gits says:

    Hi Aunty,

    I am yet to be a mom. I completely and agree and support your decision. My parents and in laws have done enough to raise me,my siblings and my husband. I definitely do not expect them to be around when my kid is born. If they volunteer to do so provided health permitting, they are most welcome to advise the nannies but not run around them.

  47. Mom says:

    Well I have gone trough all that. I did resign my Job to be with my kid and as there was not much help from parents from both sides. I don’t blame them for doing that. Definitely it would have helped and I wouldn’t have to leave my job if they were around. Depends many at that point either opt for a nanny or some day care. I couldn’t do that just the taught freaks me out. I can say a few people are so strong they can mange in all sorts of pressure, actually have seen a few so telling. See grand parents had helped it would have been for the first year. After that every one can manage. But saying so I definitely don’t regret what I did and would have done the same.

  48. NG says:

    I feel so sorry for their son and daughter-in-law. I couldn’t even imagine the thought of how would I have managed if my mom wasn’t with me when I delivered my son. Especially the first 3 weeks of physical and emotional changes that came along with delivery and c-section. No one can beat moms in understanding daughters emotions and hormonal changes they go through, wish nanny is a magical angel who can read strangers emotions and take off emotional stress. Men simply can’t understand even though they try hard as they haven’t experienced it, experience is lot different from imagination.

    I feel blessed and am so so so thankful to my mom and mother-in-law for their support to me in the hardest times. I wish and hope I get the precious opportunity to pay back one day and support my daughter-in-law. I think I still belong to old school..

  49. Radha says:

    Even my Parents took same decisions because of some other personal reasons, I always respect elders and their wishes, also nowadays sons and daughters becoming too selfish and without considering their parent’s privacy and health conditions they want to use them as baby sitters etc. It’s your kids and your responsibility… don’t put them on your parent’s shoulder

  50. Juanita says:

    I understand resting. U need your relaxation. However living abroad without a servant or any family to depend on the mother after delivery is on best rest and becomes difficulty for husband to take care as he’s new father so grandparents atleast 2-3 months become essential

  51. Snigdha Narake says:

    Every person has a right to make a choice according to personal preference, but in society are we truly absolved of all responsibilities because they are not our preference? Likewise all choices have outcomes that may warrant exclusion of privileges as a result. Lastly, when one has enjoyed a certain privilege is it not an unsaid assurance that said privilege will be passed on ?

    Personally I feel having a baby is an overwhelming experience, especially in the first few months. The two people most qualified to teach you how to be great parents are your own parents. Historically, culturally that’s where you would learn the subtleties of parenthood. I am sure Mrs. Mashelkar (and many women in her time) must have had her mother (or MIL) to guide her through her first few unsure months. This kind of support is a fabric of the community approach that has made our culture (and many other cultures) collectivist. Is it not our responsibility to our parents & society to pass on the privileges they lovingly showered on us?

    Or bringing up a child is the only responsibility parents should concern themselves with? ‘Is the job every really done?’ Is there a point ever when the children would not need parents? Every phase of a child’s life is one that a parent has already traversed, thus making him/her a wealth of knowledge available for no selfish reason.

    Mrs. Mashelkar talks about tiredness and exhaustion she experienced during the first time that she had gone, this despite of 4 people taking care of one baby. Just imagine if she would not have been there how difficult would it have been for her daughter in law and son. While I respect her right to personal space, I cant help but wonder how a few months of support would infringe on that? Loneliness and immobility is the nature of life in foreign land, and I empathize with their situation having lived through it. What I can’t imagine is being a new mother and going through it. Just the presence of ones parents fills the heart with happiness and security, which I feel is crucial in the life of a new mom & dad.

    I totally support the claim of parents that are used by a few children as cheap labor and those children must be brought to justice. Parents are there to help/support and I think most of the children, who love their parents, understand that. They are appreciative of the parents help because living in foreign land one definitely understands the value of love.

    Its one thing if it’s a physical issue or if there is mistreatment/exploitation but is personal space worth to deny your support when your child is standing at the threshold of parenthood which is extremely intimidating, scary and uncharted. Well, they will survive. Thousands of parents do it on their own, the two hour feeding, burping, crying, changing. Rushing to the ER every time the child’s temperatures rises , or because you feel so helpless when you cant understand why its crying and don’t know what to do to ease its pain. Sure a mum would be a god sent but never mind. That brings me to the point of ‘outcomes of choices ‘ that I mentioned earlier. The individualistic cultural values also bring certain exclusions of rights that our Indian grand parents may be used to. One thing is true ‘Responsibilities precede rights.’ So are grandparents willing to give up any right to advice or groom grandchildren, as they have not participated in their rearing. How can one claim any right over the outcome when one has not participated in the process (here we are not talking of them as parents but grandparents) . Is that the kind of society we are aiming for?

    I can’t imagine becoming a mom without my mom present. She for sure would be the only person in the world I would trust to bring me into motherhood, as she did when she brought me in the world. My mom would be my teacher, my beckon my support. There are some things for which you can never repay your parents, the only way to settle that debt is to pass it on when you are fortunate to be in their position.

    Without taking away from Mrs. Mashelkar’s point, this is an attempt to give an alternative perspective.

    • Ramya says:

      This is so well said. Although I wanted to say the same thing. I think you said it so well. Certainly there are debts we can never pay back. We can only pass it on when we are in that position. A mother’s duty never ends and neither does a father’s. I say this as a mother of two children. I would do whatever it takes to set my children up for success just like my parents and in laws have.

    • SK says:

      Totally applaud what you said. I agree with each and every word of your article! Wanted to say the same but you articulated it so well. Kudos.

  52. Tina says:

    Selfish People.They would be their daughter’s slaves if they had a daughter.Since they have sons, they are leading care free lives.What is the use of even having children if they cannot take care of their own blood (grand children) when their family needs them badly.
    They can do all their bonding after helping their sons who have infants.The greatest joy is giving/helping rather than enjoying life.

  53. Veena krishnan says:

    Taking the parents help for granted, demanding it and not being considerate to the kind of help expected of them is what is upsetting. Parents could be asked to help in a supervisory role.

  54. Gopika says:

    I would refer you as a selfish parent.
    Suppose your children choose their career/wife/children over you when you are ill, I wonder how you would react to it. The entire society will scream at the sons for not taking care of parents who brought them up.

    If parents cannot support children in their need, they should not expect anything from children as well. Coming to the point that you brought up your sons, its your responsibility. They never asked you to give birth to them. If you gave birth, its your responsibility to bring them up, give good education, food etc. So don’t include those as your sacrifices.

  55. s says:

    But what if the parents are staying together from first day and still grandchildren have to be kept at creche. I respect that parents should get there own space, but in my case we had always been staying under the same roof and the parents-in-law are absolutely fit, still they refused to take any responsibility so we had to keep my little daughter in creche for 10 hrs everyday. They never helped in the house chores as well. Me and my daughter started keeping unwell and having no choice I had to resign and say permanent good-bye to my blooming career. We are still staying with such un-coperative people but definitely the love and respect is lost somewhere.

  56. newmom says:

    I have been living with my parents even after marriage. It’s been a blessing of sorts. I’ve never been away from my parents, and living with them even after marriage seems nothing but natural to me. I do not care about what other people might say. We(me and my husband) take care of them when they aren’t well. And they take care of us, when we aren’t well. We hang out, have fun with each other.

    And then after more than a year my daughter came along. We have a maid who does all the laundry, vessels, sweeping, etc. But running after my daughter and taking care of her every need demands 24X7 presence, and a loving care. It’s really hard to imagine what I would have done without them. Probably would have hired one more nanny, and resigned my job. It’s not impossible, but hard. From reading this post I have come to realize how blessed I am and how grateful I should be feeling. Thank you so much for making me realize this.

    I am going to spend more time with my parents, perhaps take them out more often. Get my mom and dad a vacation alone. Thanks for opening my eyes.

    My brother lives in the US, and will probably get married and settle down there. His wife will probably deliver their baby(ies) in the US, and I am so sure my MOM will run to their aid. That’s her.

    As for the couple who decided not to, I hope that your choice was right for you and that you do not have any regrets later. God Bless!

    • me says:

      Dear aunty,
      Its difficult to say what is right and what isn’t. My mom has made such a choice with helping out my brother and it has drained her health n created more problems than solved. Help can given if children are staying nearby… but running from one continent to another is a little too much.
      I think in your case, a paid help is affordable for your children and you may travel just for the fondness and bonding , if you wish to do so. 😀 cheer up, people always judge, you cannot keep everyone happy.

  57. Arthi says:

    I would like to congratulate you both on the bold move you have taken. I believe raising a child is the responsibility of the parents. The old system where everybody lived in a joint family, where the parents took the big responsibility of taking care of the child and grandparents and others in the house only pitched in when it was needed was very different from today’s scenario because parents want to shirk their responsibility towards their child in the name of following thier dreams and careers and want to completely offload their responsibility on to the grandparents.

    Grandparents are not physically fit enough to take care of a child full time and that too in a place that is not their own but somewhere else where they they are completely dependent. This is expecting free service and borders on slavery. Whether it is for a daughter or a son, it doesn’t make sense. I think if people are highly career oriented and feel having a child will compromise their career and do not want to risk it , they should not have children.

    Such decisions however could cause a rift between the two generations. I do have a problem with this society which is in constant competition and rat-race where basic instincts of a parent or child of nurturing and care are compromised and we end up discussing whether a parent should be given the care during their old age if they refuse to help their children to raise their children forgetting the initial years of nurturance.

    I am a major supporter of simple living in a joint family set up, where everything happens more naturally and nothing is force fixed.

  58. AK says:

    Love the story and decision of Mandakini Mashelkar!!

    Grandparents should never be treated as Babysitters!

    I strongly believe that NO relationship can ever exist without COMPROMISE and helping at the time of need lies at the core of Moral behaviour but Children should not forget that Grandparents are not Babysitters.

    Relationships need to be Cultivated and appreciated – this way they develop and become more worthy of love. Parent-Child relationship is the biggest example of Self-less love. Parents spend major portion of their life in making the lives of their Children good but in the end they receive the treatment of either Babysitters (if they agree to take kid’s responsibility) or Selfish Parent (If they don’t.)

    Parent-child relationship that demonstrates self-less love, also serves as a biggest model of Morality and its all about nature’s time-lapse – Parents give the child selfless love and everything and its the process of years when the child becomes capable of returning in kind but when the time comes, the favour is returned only after considering “what is in it for me?” So, instead of cementing only profitable relationships,understand that the worth of human is far superior than getting one’s selfish motives fulfilled.

    The world may call Mandakini Mashelkar and her husband a selfish Parent but I respect their decision because Parents deserves the treatment of Parents not Babysitters.Their decision is may be an outcome of the last visit to their first son but considering the age factor and circumstances, Grandparents carry no obligation to serve the grand kids and their decision should not be taken on negative side instead they should be encouraged to enjoy their life fully and strengthen their cushion of old age!

    Amandeep Kaur

  59. Swapna says:

    🙂 I am surprised by how many people are passing judgements
    Give some respect to the age, experience and decision made by elders and deal with your stuff!

    Emotional pressures and blackmail is the tone and tenor used by many against the couple’s decision!

    Using the guise of family and bonds is hardly concealing these people, whose intent is to have some temporary convenience. So what if it is inconvenient for their parents? big deal! All these ladies and gents with such glorious opinions and with young kids, are most welcome to be their grand-kids nannies! For now, let them learn to respect others’ decisions for their own lives!
    Why can’t people respect an elder couple’s decision; the very same people seem to think its alright for the second son to get upset that their plans for nanny are squashed! No son said “it’s alright mom, we’ll manage!” which should have been the case because they only know too well their parents do/did the best they can. So, when they can’t, how difficult can it be to respect that and search for alternatives?
    I’m sure there will be and ye,s they may have to compromise! before expecting sacrifices (unlimited) from others (even if it parents), it will serve these people to sacrifice a bit from their side!

    Sheesh! what double standards guys! take a hard look at yourselves in the mirror!

  60. Nithya says:

    right or wrong, you did what makes you feel happy and that is what matters. rest time will take care 🙂

  61. Anand says:

    Very well written piece, and echoes lot of sentiments from others as well.
    Individual freedom always comes first.
    Just one question…Did Sangram spend considerable part of his childhood looking after his younger brother Sanket? Did he use to sacrifice his playtime to look after his younger sibling?
    If yes, then may be, just may be, he deserves some part of your time at this point as well. Just providing another perspective here for on going debate…

  62. kavya nagesh says:

    Hi aunty,
    I respect your decision. And I understand it very well..once a baby is born as a parent we spend our most vital years on nurturing them completely, once we get old and look back into the past, we see nothing we have done for ourselves, so you have taken the best decision.. You have done your duty as rising your sons and making them to lead their beautiful lives.its time for you both to lead your life as you would want to. Secure your lives and be happy n healthy .
    Grandchildren are not your responsibility it their parents. So chill and have fun

  63. Amused says:

    This is a very unique story. In many cases its the parents who pressurize their kids to have kids. If you are that kind of grandparent, you probably want the exact thing that this couple is saying no to!

  64. Shetall S Khanna says:

    I think It has come from what you get . You didnt get support at your time As you wrote ,your Husband said you raise your children your own then why cant your children do that. So you are not willing to support your child . Thats OK

    I m not for or against of your choice but I think its quite onesided approach . We bend rules as per our happiness.

    I respect your hapiness but dont be sad when your daughter in law / grandchildren take you as other relative , because your son/ daughter is your blood relationship you will always be close to their heart but Daughter in law is your relationship you make or break it together . So better you make her understand so the agony doesnot remains there to take you as Olders not Elders.

    Hope you understand the difference . Enjoy the time .

    One more thing I want to say in general to all MOMS ( including me ) and especially SON’s Mother. You gave birth to your child , raised him/her , sacrificed whatever and wherever time to time. All by your wish , no child has come on earth by his/her own choice . So dont give melodramatic dialouges , ” Tumhe Paida ker ke maine kya paya ,aaj mujhe yeh dekhne pad rahe hai .” :)))))))))

  65. Priya says:

    I respect your decision. This is your retired life and you have the right to live it the way you please. But from what I can see, your son needed your help only for a few months a year. Swapping between grandparents once in a few months until the child is two years old, and after that a day-care would have been a perfect solution. Do you have to run to your other son next? Maybe, yes. But that would be again for a couple of years… once the children are in preschool-daycare, they will not require anymore help. Family support is invaluable to working couples, as you know it very well. You were managing your business too when you had your boys. Imagine if you had some parental support during this phase, it would have meant so much to you, wouldn’t it?

  66. Divya says:

    Hi Madam,

    I totally agree with Anant Sir. Now is the time when you are relived of your duties as a parent and get on enjoying the togetherness. Now if you get into taking care of the toddlers when are you going to enjoy eachother’s company. Kudos to you for not letting the mother in you take over your decision, which I know is very difficult.

    Enjoy and have a lovely life together.

    Well wisher.

  67. Madhu says:

    I pity on dose sons. ..

    I wanted my mother to be with me as I didn’t even know how to hold a new born carefully..

    My mother stayed wid me not to take care of the baby…but to teach me how to take care of a baby.

    N I ll do d same when my son will be a father.
    I can’t be selfish to say I want to enjoy life and my kid ll be in a problematic situation.

    How selfish of the parent who raise dere hands saying dey can’t do it in old age.

    Hire a nanny and just can share the load of ur children

  68. Swati Amar says:

    It is important, as educated individuals to have an open mind to respect and accept the decisions of others. Truly mature people would understand the genuine feelings of the seniors and move on focusing on how best to deal with the new situation. There is no point taking anything personal and discuss how when an opportunity comes later on, they might not offer support. In the event of the latter happening, it would be unfortunate because it only points out to the sad truth that all the years of education and global experience have come to naught. No cultured person would shun one’s parents during their twilight years or when they are in need. (This applies only to Indian culture because in advanced countries, the state takes care of the seniors whereas in India, it is still the family that if the foremost caregiver for seniors)

    That said, kindness is the highest virtue of mankind that is sadly being lost in a world which is becoming more and more individualistic. I personally feel, it is the duty of everyone to be kind and help anyone in need, whether they are our children or not. It is important for our society to speak about this virtue, rekindle it among people and try to nurture it back. Today everybody needs a little kindness and love.

    No one understands this more than the girl who has just given birth to a baby. Child-birth is the most life-changing event for a woman and for the family . The mindset that a woman has to be given ‘support’ ‘help’ etc should be changed. Giving birth to a child is not the responsibility of only the new mother and the patronizing mindset of doling out a few hours of our time, effort and money should be changed. As a person who believes and follows our priceless Indian culture, in the larger context, a child is the family scion who takes the family name ahead to the next generation. It is therefore essential for all family members, especially those close to the baby to participate and revel in the event.

    It is a time when all family members ( whoever is present) should share work and ensure that there is a good ambiance for the mother and the child to recuperate . These days, the new mother also recovers fast and commences her chores soon enough. And it is time for the new father to take on the greatest share of work because he is young, fit and capable and the person closest to the child, next to the mother.

    What is painful is the fact that people are discussing issues such as being selfish, baby-sitting, saving on money etc. This just goes to prove that education has not done what it purports to do. Refined and evolved minds do not dwell on such trivial issues. Where there is love and kindness is a hygiene factor, the focus will be on relishing the happy event in the family.

    Similarly, child-birth is not just a family event, it is necessary for generations to move ahead and hence it is the duty of all institutions in the society to offer support and succor to the new mother and child including maternity and paternity leave, option of flexible hours and working from home, good child care homes and even affordable child care help.

    Educated and working parents today will be able to find means to bring up their child. We should not tarnish the beauty of relationships of parents-child discussing about baby-sitters and servants. Accomplished adults today do not expect physical help from their aged parents, but just their wise counsel and emotional succour. If on the other hand they do, it is time they decided to change into mature beings. This is not a money-saving, work-saving occasion.

    As for the seniors who are looking at senior citizens’s home, there are a lucky few who get into good homes. Even there, medical attention may not be as personal as we can get if we are probably at our own home. And even if you pay a lot of money, in a country like India, you may still not get a care-giver who will be committed to service or will execute her duties in good faith. Geographically too, there are restrictions and there would be a drastic change in socialization, because they would be exposed only to seniors and not a mix of age group where experiences would be enriching and varied. Moreover one partner will most probably be left alone for sometime. Considering all these, it may be worthwhile to look at the possibilities of spending one’s last days with one’s family. After all a harsh word from one’s child is more acceptable than ill-treatment from paid strangers who do not have the conscience nor commitment to do their jobs well.

    Actually, things should not be as they are today. All of us, instead of throwing stones at one another, must try to view things objectively, be non-judgmental, more tolerant and accepting of people and situations. When kindness and love reign supreme, no human can be disrespected. And the benefits will be huge for everyone.

  69. radha says:

    i have gone through this article of helping children . i think in my openion the problem started with the deleveries taking place at abroad for the sake of citezenship to their our old times girls used to come to mother’s place and used to stay untill they can take care of their kids.which is really mother has assisted for five girl that is 10 times that comes to almost 10 years .but never felt the problem because her life style or my father’ s work never affected because of girls deleveries.they used to manage in their own place with some more domestic help which is very easy in getting in our problem of troubling aged parents comes because of our children’ s selfishness of to be with their spouses and get the work done in their own terms .why our indian children who are workingin in Abroad wants Outside citizenship Or medical care for their children.? why we are not proud of our own country citizenship?does india lacks that much medical care?we have to encourage our children to come to India and take parents is very very difficult for a busy and normal person to sit at home months together in an unknown may lead to some health problems due extreem wheather conditions in some places which is very dangerous at that age.

  70. Sylvan says:

    Sounds like you saved yourself a lot of stress and strain. An engineer in the UK or Germany could absolutely afford to pay for child care. Your sons expected help not out of genuine need, but greed and laziness. If people can’t handle the work put into child rearing, they should not have the child.

  71. Palki jain says:

    Hi, its good you thought for yourself otherwise parents just do all sort of things for their kids voluntary. But i would say if your relationship with your sons family is good, you hve time & energy to do things, it would hve been such a help for him at that time. You can go for few weeks….

  72. Grandma says:

    As a grandmother who went through similar phase for a brief period of time I totally understand how and why they took this decision.. I witnessed this phenomenon of aging parents taking care of grandchildren in bangalore and couldn’t help wonder if they are doing it out of financial compulsion,moral obligation or selfless love…. Will they be dumped in old age homes when they are of no use anymore? Or will their children take good care of them?

    The fact of the matter is the grandchildren are perfectly safe in care of grandparents and our sons and daughters can go to the office without any worry… But are grandparents being given time off? I have seen an aged grandmother hold a baby for almost an hour in her arms while waiting for a train while her daughter was standing next to her and not offering to hold the baby..
    The problem is that we are expected to cook great food , take care of toddlers which we did in our youth… We are not young anymore and our children need to understand that too… I will be there for my children whenever they need me but in between i will live my life too….

  73. nikhilesh says:

    That is the Decision made by his EGO.

  74. KVMK says:

    The Context itself is set wrong. If a Son calls parents abroad…to take care of the new born baby ..the parents can always say NO…but if the son communicates correctly that he needs support from them and paid nanny will take care of the new born in handling such as giving bath, walking the kid around, feeding, putting to sleep etc., The grand parents can be there supervising the whole 2-3 months and return back to base.

    While I appreciate what you did Aunt and Uncle…you should make your sons realize what needs to be told.

  75. Nags says:

    I feel one should do what your heart tells you to do. Whether it’s parents, grandparents or sons or daughters. Do what you feel is right and do it if you can do it and do it only if YOU WANT to do it. Respect each other’s decision. Every household is not the same. Just because an orphaned child is a survivor and learns to do everything we don’t leave our child unattended. We try to provide support when and wherever needed. As long as you do it with free heart and good energies everything is happy. But when your heart suffocates and energies fall…it’s when you want to with draw. That’s what this couple did. It’s upto the child how he or she wants to understand. But Being able to help one child and leaving the other one to his own survival is a difficult decision for any parent. Which is why most of them do as much as they can to their children. But it is the children who should understand and respect their parents help and try to relieve them of responsibilities as soon as they can. However we have lived we must remember we should not carry any regrets.

  76. ujwala says:

    We all spend about 30 years of our lives struggling so that, we can survive. The next 30 years are spent struggling so that, our children can survive. Before we know it, we are 60 years of age. We have never spent time doing what we wanted to do most. We have never spent time relaxing. At age 60 parents should declare to their children that, “now is their time”. One must plan before thinking of having children. As one plans about ‘finances’, he must plan about the ‘time’ .The whole discussion is around, ‘What was the right thing to do’ by the grandparents. I think it should be left to the grandparents what they want to do AT THAT POINT OF TIME. If they want to be there for the grandchildren they should. If they want to do something else AT THAT POINT OF TIME they should follow that. There is no such thing as what is right or what is wrong. Its the parents’ duty to spare time, money and energy for their children . What they do for their grandchildren is a privilege.

  77. Njan says:

    This is exactly my mother did with my sister when she delivered a baby. Just that my sister and husband had no problem what so ever when my mom refused to help them out.

    I don’t even dream that my parents or my wife’s parents should come over and take care of my (our) children.

    Should it not be the norm?

  78. Shobha Mathur says:

    I too am a grandmother of 5 and do not believe I am an unpaid nanny for them!

    I had my twins in India but my son abroad and had raised them on my own there.

    I told my two daughters and one daughter in law that they will have to manage the kids themselves, and not depend on me totally. So they all stayed at home till their kids were 5 years.
    now all are working again.

    Having said that I did assisted them all during confinement and few months after delivery. Helping at critical times to my mind is a sacred and loving duty. But not looking after the kids when they even few months old.

  79. Pingback: Sunset at 60 ? | The Motley Collection

  80. prashant says:

    you do have choice of living your life peacefully as you have chosen .

    We have two kids and both of us are working .
    My wife spent around 2/3 months after birth of our kids with my parents and in-laws .
    We did not forced any of the parents to visit us in India itself since neither of them were comfortable with metro lifestyle .

    My younger son went to day care from the age of 9 months and we have horror stories to tell about day cares (prominent ones too ) .
    We know the pain of sending young kids to daycare . When we see parents supporting our cooligues we tell how valuable that support and request to respect their parents.
    But being a child there are always expectations from parents towards baby sitting

    We never blamed neither of our parents for not being baby sitters, we respect their decision .
    In today’s highly professional world many times its not feasible for a mother to quit the job many times due to various reasons, including financial .

    Looks like your children need to grow up and understand that parents do have right to choose their way of living .
    But I wish you would have made expectation from kids clear and visited them atleast for few weeks during birth of baby instead of visiting later .

    Initial few weeks are really helpful for a new born baby and parents . But we do have many children using services of their parents as baby seater for quiet long.
    I have seen painful instances where father baby sits one grandchild and mother does same for another grandchild separately . In your age moral support of life partner is very important .

    In nutshell, if you parents are supporting, please do not exploit their personal life, if not respect their decision . Also all the children are not looking for baby sitting by grandparents to save money, many times it’s a need . I have seen some peoples arguing here on exchanging support in parents sickness. Isn’t it our duty to support parents now ?
    Parents have already fulfilled their duties towards us and its our turn, even if they can not baby sit .

    Please do not worry about peoples calling you selfish, its not easy to understand such circumstances . I Wish you a very very happy and peaceful life ahead .

    Thanks & Regards,

  81. Preeta says:

    Nothing can replace the love and affection given by the grandparents to the grand child. No amount of good parenting can give the child the emotional security and confidence that is gained by bonding with the grandparents. If you think it is entirely the parents’ responsibility to raise a child, think again. “It takes a village to raise a child”. I rest my case.

  82. Neha says:

    i think the grandparents have made good decision, BUT they could have just gone there for a month or so and help during the delivery, as it is quite overwhelming for a new mother if no one is around….1 month is nothing to lose from their precious ” bonding time “… Later on they can say no for baby sitting in future….everything needs a balance to make a win-win situation ….and I am sure when they were delivering their kids, someone would have been there to help around in initial 1 month in a country like India….there is difference in babysitting and just helping during actual delivery process..

  83. L V Subramanian says:

    It has become an accepted norm that the parents of the husband and wife take turns in visiting their children for babysitting for a maximum visit period of 6 months alternatively. It is a period of torturer the grandparents that they have to follow the rules for admonishing and disciplining the child . They cannot go out anywhere on their own and will have to be dependent on their son or daughter to take them out. It is like golden prison to them – all comforts sans freedom. There is a travel agent in Malleswaram who keeps track of the schedules and books tickets in Lufthansa in most economical rates with the result he has a good steady clientele.

  84. SV says:

    Everything is fine but those grand children will be missing those story times with their grand parents …. Those grand children night never get attached to India or their ancestral home country, those grand children might not learn their roots …. If grand parents decided not to help their children. Such help is definitely to their children but it’s more to the grand children.

    Any ways, everyone is free to take their own decision as per their own point of view !

  85. Meghna says:

    It is great that the parents made this decision – but I think it would have been a fair one if they had helped the second son as well before deciding to not help any further. One of the biggest mistakes parents in India make is when they knowingly or unknowingly create this rift between their kids by not being the same for both of them. Though the decision is theirs, but they could have helped the second son as well for a few months – maybe the experience of helping the other son could have been different from what they felt while supporting the first one. Taking care of a young child is the toughest job, and I speak from experience of taking care of my two children without any support from my parents and in-laws plus with a full time job. Any help during the initial few months is extremely important and with no/little help, it is very stressful on both the new parents.
    Also, a note for the sons – please hire help (Cook/nanny) even if it is expensive. I don’t want to comment on future scenarios where parents may need help when they are very old – that’s a different topic of discussion on a different post.

  86. Usha says:

    This is a wise lady. By not being a taken-for-granted caretaker, she is actually doing her sons, daughter in laws and her grand children a great favor. From her sons’ responses, it is clear that they are yet to learn their lessons on being responsible, figuring out their priorities, and managing their own lives. In spite of becoming parents themselves, they are yet to get into an adult mode and take charge of their own lives. They’d like to think they are still “babies” themselves and expect their parents to be at their beck and call forever.

    I believe good relationships are based on mutual love, respect and kindness. They can never be a function of obligations, duties, emotional blackmailing etc. Almost everyone who criticized this lady’s decision has used a threat of abandonment in old age. Maybe their hapless parents know that these kids are the kind that will abandon them in their old age if they don’t pander to all the needs of their child all their lives. So they put up with all this hard work of babysitting (with a smile to boot) in the hope that the children will feel obliged to take care of them when they are too old. Of course there are all kind of families and I’m sure these people belong to families that run on obligations.

    But then there are also families where people are brought up with a values that are not obligatory in nature. Where no family member is expected to bend over back for another. Where help is “accepted with gratefulness”, but never “expected as a given”. I hope her sons and daughter in laws respect this lady for her choices once they get over their own pettiness over their temporary inconvenience. They’ll learn to cope with their responsibilities like all the other adults do in their country of residence. May be they will plan their next child wisely by weighing their priorities. And I’m sure that her grandchildren will also love and respect her more for being a role model that has her life together even at this age rather than being nothing more than a taken-for-granted-caretaker whose life revolves only around them.

  87. Mumoftwo says:

    Tough situation. Damned if you go,damned if you don’t. If the childbirths weren’t almost back to back, the grandparents would have probably agreed to go for the second one, after getting rest and an adequate breather. It is too much to expect old people to travel between three continents to take care of the kids for what seems to be at least a two year period. My friend’s parents had faced a similar situation (first they came for her first baby, then went for their son’s baby and again went for her second baby). Finally they called it quits and went back to their village. I do feel for the second son and his wife though, they got the short end of the stick

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Back to Top ↑