General Question

pleiades's avatar

Mother in law will watch her grandson on Saturday for a price: Is this fair, strange, appalling to you?

Asked by pleiades (4976 points ) December 4th, 2013

My mother in law has watched our son on select days of the week while we pay my sister who also has a kid my nephew, and we pay my sister. My mother in law told my wife she would be able to watch our son on Saturdays for a cost (same rate as my sisters payment). The kicker is we save driving time which is good.

But am I wrong to feel weirded out that this isn’t free? I mean she watches him any other day for free. I find it strange while my wife is 100% ok with this.

What’s your take?

Some background. She watches him on Sundays for about 4 hours. Saturday will be for about 4 hours as well. I guess the strange part for me is she invited herself to watch her grandson but also asking for the money.

This isn’t the first weird financial related situation we’ve been in with her. My wife has a minor automobile accident and my wife pays her mother the insurance cost every month since they’re all on one plan (her sister, herself and her mother). When my wife wanted to pull out the money from the claims she wasn’t allowed to because her mother wouldn’t let her. Her mom had put the money from the auto accident into a fund where she previously borrowed from her own mothers death (my wifes grandma passéd away and money was split amongst her kids my mother in law being one of them) I guess she borrowed money from that pot and used the auto accident money to pay back the fund that was borrowed.

I don’t like the direction this is going in because if she passes away, I’m not sure if my wife will be able to attain those funds as it’s now in a pot that was split between my mother in laws sisters and brothers.

Anyways, how should I bring up my concerns in a way that doesn’t make me seem like a money hungry mongrel.

Should we just forget about those funds? Maybe paying my mother in law isn’t such a bad idea?

Thanks for the input.

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29 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

Seems fair to me to pay to the MIL to babysit. I would however encourage your wife to get her own insurance, then she won’t be dependent on someone else to distribute any claim money.

YARNLADY's avatar

In family financial matters, we always get a signed note of the exchange; who borrowed, who payed, what the agreement for repayment is, including time frame and possible interest.

I loaned my Sister In Law $5,000 once, with a 12% interest and payments due every month. After three months of repayment, she asked for a renegotiation where she would pay back $10,000 out of her inheritance when Mom and Dad passed away. Now, Mom is close to using up all the substantial savings they had since Dad passed, three years ago. I suspect I’ll never see the repayment.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

I agree with @WestRiverrat. Your wife does need to pull out of the current insurance situation. The more difficult thing to do will be having a talk with Mum. Perhaps your wife would be most comfortable talking to her mother without you, perhaps with. Either way, some real discussion needs to take place. Perhaps there is a financial problem the two of you don’t yet know about. If there is, you should know. Maybe MIL needs help, maybe she’s been helping herself. I don’t know her, so only you and your wife can decide how to approach the issue. It sounds like she wants to do anything she can for her family, but can’t afford to. Still, I don’t know her, so that could be incorrect.
I don’t think you should be angry about the babysitting. Wait to have that talk to decide what further should be done. Be gentle. She might be pretty frightened just now.

YARNLADY's avatar

Sometimes In-law babysitting can interfere with other activities, and she might be charging to reduce the burden.

I once asked my older son and his wife to please contribute to the costs of babysitting, but that was full time with three very small boys.

Seek's avatar

All that insurance fiasco aside…

She blesses you with free childcare every Sunday. I don’t find it unreasonable that she ask for a small payment for taking her Saturday as well. I assume she’s feeding him and taking care of him, possibly even doing activities with him.

Be thankful. Some of us don’t have help.

JLeslie's avatar

It sounds like she must be tight on money. It might have been difficult for her to ask for payment. I would gladly do something financial for my mom or MIL if finances were tight for them and they helped me all the time. Maybe she wishes it had been offered without her having to ask? I don’t mean a specific payment for a specific day, but in general, some financial help some way. We don’t know her perspective. It sounds like she cares about being fair. If I understand the insurance and inheritance situation right, she cared about paying back what she owed.

I think it would be best for you and your wife to not be intertwined in finances with them if possible.

My parents are on my cellular plan, but no one is super tight on money. Some years they don’t pay me for their part of the cell plan, which was our agreement, and I am paying everything month after month. I never ask for the money. But, whenever they are in town they buy us stuff and we get Chanukah and birthday money every year from them, and every couple years my dad says, “did mommy ever give you money for the cell phones?” No, she doesn’t think of it, but then they give me a check that more than covers the last two or three years. So, because money is loser no one is very concerned.

With my husband’s family they are tighter check to check on money and they are sloppier with money, even if they make a lot of money. When we loaned his brother money we wrote up an IOU with a payment plan to pay it back, I would never do that with anyone in my nuclear family. I would never feel the need to. They pay things back even when I tell them not to worry about it.

You know the family, you know the dynamics. If you are concerned your MIL’s money will not go to your wife if your MIL dies and will go to your MIL’s siblings, your wife needs to ask her mom what she wants to have happen to the money. If she wants it to go to her daughter, she needs a will or some sort of paperwork saying so. Might be solved simply by naming your wife as beneficiary if that is possible.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

She might need some extra holiday cash to buy her grandson a present.

Seelix's avatar

Why is it weird that your mother-in-law wants to be paid to watch her grandson, but it isn’t weird for your sister to want to be paid to watch her nephew?

livelaughlove21's avatar

Pay the woman to watch your kid, because there’s nothing weird about wanting compensation for providing childcare, grandma or not.

Tell your wife to get her own auto insurance or get on your plan with you. She’s a grown up now – no need to be dependent on Mommy anymore.

LornaLove's avatar

Child care is so expensive and I think the days of a happy apple cheeked grandma’s are long gone for many. I don’t know her situation financially but she might feel taken advantage of so is asking for a fee or she might really need the money. Or, like someone mentioned, provides food and other treats that she cannot afford outside of her normal budget.

A lot of grandma’s do feel put upon by having their grand kids around too much. (Since their own kids are grown and perhaps they want a bit of a life before hitting the grave).

I personally don’t think sharing insurance costs is a good idea because ultimately kids need to grow up and manage their own finances. (As was apparent with the claims issue).

JLeslie's avatar

@LornaLove I think it just depends on the family. My MIL took care of her grandchildren 4 days a week after school for years. She wasn’t paid. Some families it is very normal for the grandparents to practically raise their grandkids. Other families grandparents are retired and want to travel and move to FL.

I agree with @seelix that I don’t understand why the sister is different than the grandma?

snowberry's avatar

It might also be that Grandma is fine with “freebees” during the week, but she considers the weekends her own, and wants compensation. That’s way smarter than paying her pennies on the dollar and having to watch them all the time.

The insurance deal sounds strange to me and perhaps self serving, but confusing for sure.

Smitha's avatar

I too agree with others opinion. I don’t think there is anything wrong if she asks for payment. Just think about it from a positive point of view, Your son will be getting personalized care from your Mother in law whom your child loves and who will look after your child much better than caretakers from day care centers. Moreover looking after a child is very much tiring, not to mention she will have to make personal sacrifices with her own time in order to care for your child. Just be grateful that you have a trusted family member to rely on.

gorillapaws's avatar

@YARNLADY You charged your sister-in-law 12% interest on a loan? That seems pretty fucking steep.

Pandora's avatar

I’m not quite sure about the car insurance situation. But as for the babysitting, I think it wise you pay her. She may either be asking because she needs the money as someone already suggested or it could also be a way of making sure she doesn’t get taken advantage of. I’ve seen people use their parents as a second set of parents without giving any thought that it really isn’t their responsibility to give up all their free time.

Grandparents who still work and have to hurry home and pick up the kids from school, because the parents say they need some alone time together or have to run some errands. I knew parents in daycare who left their kids all day from 6 to 6, five days a week at daycare, and the grandparents would pick them up. On the weekend they would drop off the kid all weekend long so they could go out and enjoy time with their adult friends. I bet if they had to pay the grandparents they wouldn’t have been so easy about it.

JimTurner's avatar

I wouldn’t necessarily call this behavior weird but it could be classified as different.

Your mother-in-law must have a specific reason why she is taking this stance. If you or your wife ask her it may make more sense to you.

snowberry's avatar

I’ve been in this spot before, where I was watching my two grandchildren full time for free, which I did gladly. Then in addition to all that, Mom and Dad needed “time alone together”, and a social life to boot. That meant I kept the kids almost non-stop some weeks, and it did get old, because they forgot about me. They took me for granted.

If anyone thinks Grandma’s off her rocker about this, you need to put yourself in her shoes. If she’s not getting any cash for her time, if they’re treating her like a free 24 hour nanny service, she’s going to feel used and abused. It’s as I said before, or it could be a gentle hint to them to keep life in perspective and not take her for granted.

It’s funny how a little thing like money (and only a little bit of it in the big picture) can change your perspective on what’s right, wrong, do-able, or not.

JLeslie's avatar

@snowberry Do you think you ever would have asked for money? Or, just started turning down babysitting?

Money isn’t little. People want to believe it is, but it isn’t. It can tear up a family, or at minimum cause bad feelings and discord.

Seek's avatar

^ Honestly, if it were me, I’d rather tell them I’m not available than take money.

“Sorry Sweetie, but I had plans to go out with friends, and watching your kid would be extremely inconvenient. Especially since I can’t even reschedule to Sunday, because I’m watching him that day already. I am allowed to have a social life, you know.”

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr That’s what I would guess. It’s why I mentioned in my first answer that it might have been difficult for the MIL to ask for money and we don’t know her side of it. But, if she is tight on money, watching her grandchild might be a way she can make a little money if it helps everyone. Stiil, I think it is unusual, and would feel odd for a grandma to ask for money, because most grandmas are supposed to be so thrilled to spend time with their grandkids. I have seen more than one grandparent taken advantage of and disrespected. Down to the daughter saying things like, “well my mom doesn’t do anything else all day.”

snowberry's avatar

JLeslie At first, they moved in with us because they were homeless, and the first part was free, because they couldn’t pay. Eventually they both got jobs, and that’s when they came to me and said they were going to start paying me. But as I said, there was that in between time where I was a free 24 hour nanny service.

JLeslie's avatar

@snowberry I can understand why it would be very touchy and people easily could have different ideas about what is right or reasonable.

My grandparents always took my sister and me for three weeks in the summer to the Catskills. My assumption was my grandparents paid for everything, but now I wonder. My perception as a wee one was that my grandma loved being with us and wanted to take us for a few weeks and it gave my parents a break. Neither my grandparents nor my parents had much money back then, but obviously someone had enough to afford going to the Catskills for three weeks.

WestRiverrat's avatar

The way my parents worked it out with my grandparents was that if the grandparents asked to see us they didn’t charge. If my parents asked them to babysit they got paid the same rate as the babysitters they used charged.

JLeslie's avatar

I actually feel weird about asking my parents what they did. I have never felt weird about asking them any money thing ever.

YARNLADY's avatar

@gorillapaws Believe it or not, in those days, 12% was below the going rates of 18% to 20%. We were charging the rate we would have received if we had put it in a savings account.

gorillapaws's avatar

@YARNLADY Ahh, sorry to jump on your case. I just saw 12% and thought you were gouging your relatives. I do hope you get it back one day.

jca's avatar

Appalling, IMHO.

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