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Grandma offers to babysit for free, 'it’s wrong to MAKE your elderly mother watch an infant and not pay.' AITA?

Grandma offers to babysit for free, 'it’s wrong to MAKE your elderly mother watch an infant and not pay.' AITA?


"AITA for not wanting to pay my mom for babysitting my soon-to-be newborn?"

I, 27F, am 7.5 months pregnant with our first baby. My husband, 27M, is currently in grad school, so a decent portion of our income is going to his tuition. We’re comfortable, but we just can’t afford 2k+ a month in daycare fees (which yes, that’s what it costs around here and since space is limited most places are requiring full time attendance when we’d only need 3 days) and all the babies needs.

About a year ago my mom, 49F, came to us asking when we were going to have children seeing as she’s getting older and wants to be able to be an active part of our child’s life.

We told her that right now we couldn’t afford daycare for a potential baby with my husband’s tuition. My mom reassured us that she’d happily watch our potential baby 3 days a week while we’re both working. I told her my husband and I would take that info and get back to her.

After a couple of days of debating, I texted my mom to assure that she would have no problem watching our potential child, which she eagerly said “absolutely." I didn’t feel comfortable not paying my mom anything, so my husband and I discussed it and agreed to paying my mom $1,000 per month for childcare and for any needs the baby has while in her care.

So, we called my mom and told her that we’d be willing to pay her, and if that was good we’d start taking steps to have a child. She was thrilled and she once again said that we “absolutely don’t have to pay her, and that spending time with her grandchild was most important."

It’s been almost a year since that conversation, and anytime childcare is brought up with her around she jumps in saying that she’s going it for free and my husband and I are lucky to have a mom like her (which we are).

Today my mom and I were at lunch and she asked “how should I expect to be paid for babysitting every month? Will you guys split up the $1,000 weekly, biweekly, or one lump sum every month?”

I was taken aback at that question because for nearly a year she’s been insisting that she’d do it for free, and we hadn’t been planning on paying her any more than baby expenses. I told her this, and she responded “it’s wrong to MAKE your elderly mother watch an infant and not pay her!”

We ended our lunch early because we were both upset and confused, but by the time I got home my husband had said that my dad, 53M, had already called saying that he’s not taking sides, but he did expect us to be paying my mom. So AITA??


We ARE still willing and able to pay her, I was just really taken aback after being told for nearly a year we didn’t have to.

Here's what top commenters had to say about this one:

LostDogBoulderUtah said:

Translation: You mom absolutely wants and needs to be paid. She can't afford to take this much time off work without a wage/doesn't want to spend this much time as dedicated to your childcare without compensation.

She also feels like she would sound greedy if she were upfront about this, so she's been saying "No no no" when she has already agreed to the offered wage. Pay your mom and recognize that this is one of those weird social situations where people will reject the gift or payment several times before accepting it.

IamIrene said:

Oof. Bait and switch. You are NTA. It would seem your mother has changed her mind about accepting your payment offer though. This doesn't make her TA either but man, the communication is lacking.

If you still want her to watch your child, I'd just reiterate the offer of $1,000 per month - stipulate how you will pay it and leave it at that. Miscommunications happen, I would try not to read too far into this.

Caspian4136 said:

NTA. She's been insisting on not being paid for a year and now this? Talk about a bait and switch. Also, she's not "elderly"! I'm a year younger than she is and we are not in the elderly category.

RoyallyOakie said:

NTA...This is a cruddy bait and switch. You've likely been planning the next stage of your life and your mother's offer for free childcare likely seems like a godsend. She's since decided that free money sounds good. You are now in a sticky situation. I would look into other childcare options, as I wouldn't leave my child with someone who considers themselves elderly at 49.

coppeliuseyes said"

NTA based on the post. I think you need to sit your mom down and explain that you're more than happy to pay her but she's the one who has been saying she didn't want to be paid and you've spent the last 7.5mths budgeting accordingly.

If she wants or expects something she needs to actually communicate that with you and not just say things she doesn't mean then get angry when you're confused.

BloomNurseRN said:

NTA for feeling like you do about this situation. Is your mother like this normally? Does she like to take the praise for something she barely did? Or make drama easily? I would be mildly annoyed and very confused to be in that situation.

You could say to her “mom, we offered to pay you multiple times. You have continually said you would be doing it for free and how lucky we are. You told multiple people how lucky we are to have you doing this for free."

"Help me understand why you didn’t just agree from the beginning to the payment we discussed” and then stop talking. See what she says. It may be nothing. It may be an apology. Either way, you’ll have a little clearer picture of where you stand.

I think it’s great that you offered and are willing to pay. I think your mom wanted the praise of being a doting grandmother who martyrs herself to watch the baby but if she’s being paid, it’s not quite the sacrifice. Best of luck there!

Everyone was on OP's side for this one. What's your advice for this family?

Sources: Reddit
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