By Merill Haseen
A FEW generations ago, it was usually granny who looked after the children when both parents went out to work. She either lived with the family or close by, and her role was taken pretty much taken for granted by everyone involved.
Even now, when working parents can choose from a nanny, childminder, au pair or nursery, it seems that granny is still doing much of the minding. A recent poll for the Guardian found that more than a third of grandparents questioned looked after their grandchildren for more than 21 hours a week.
The Guardian poll found that, although it was the grandmothers, rather than grandfathers, who did most of the minding, it's the men who are more likely to feel taken advantage of. The survey shows that 26% of men and 19% of women feel that they are being exploited.
Harriet Harman, chairwoman of the Childcare Commission, believes that grandparents should be paid for taking on the huge burden of childcare: 'They are the linchpin of family life and insufficiently recognised,' she says.
A report by the Commission, due out this month, will recommend that childcare tax credit should be payable to grandparents.
But, is a nanny granny a good or a bad thing Age Concern makes the point that one in ten grandparents is under the age of 56, hasten more years of work ahead and still leading a full life. It warns that there is a risk of their childminding being taken for granted.
Are grannies being used as a cheap option for childcare Does looking after their grandchildren give grannies something to do Or, should they be spending their retirement in other ways Click here to give your opinion.