Thursday 18 January 2018

Colette Fitzpatrick: Looking after the grandchildren should be a joy, not a dreaded chore

Grandparents welcoming grandchildren.
Grandparents welcoming grandchildren.
Grandmother on phone
Hillary Clinton
Drake at Coachella

The relationship grandparents have with their grandchildren is a special bond.

Grandparenting is an opportunity to love someone new, to wonder at the magic of a developing mind and to be needed by someone again.

Grannies and granddads are often like family historians and can add a sense of family tradition and heritage to a child's life. They share their legacy, they bridge generations and they also represent the future.

In an ideal situation, grandparents are removed from the day-to-day pressures and responsibilities of being mammy or daddy.


They can take on the role of spoiling grandchildren in a way they never would have with their own kids - I actually think it's important for parents to hold back on the goodies so as granny and grandad can treat their grandchildren.

In the first flush of excitement of having a grandchild, I'm sure many grandparents agree to all sorts.

"Sure, I'll mind them any time you want. You can leave them with me overnight"; "Why would you leave them with a stranger when we'd love to have them"; "Sure no one's going to mind them better than your own family".

It's based on a well-intentioned, idealistic vision of a tiny, sleeping baby that's no trouble to anyone.

The reality, of course, is quite different.

Babies scream to be fed. They grow into active toddlers, always on the go. It's physical looking after them.

Lifting them in and out of car seats, in and out of cots, on and off toilets.

Just keeping up with a little guy who's ripping around is exhausting for even the fittest and youngest of parents.

So it was no surprise to me to learn this week that researchers at Trinity College found grandparents who provide over 60 hours of care per month experience significantly more depressive symptoms.

There's a huge reliance now on grandparents to actually regularly child-mind, as parents seek to avoid crippling childcare costs.


One-in-five grandparents now look after their grandchildren for more than 60 hours a month. There's no doubt that in some situations grandparents don't want to hurt their children and keep any misgivings to themselves.

On top of the exhaustion and the possible depression under new rules, childminders are now obliged to fill in a 26-page tax return form for the first time.

This applies to grannies and granddads if they receive any payment from their children of more than €15,000-a-year.

Grandchildren are supposed to keep you feeling younger, not even older than you are.

You're supposed to be hard-wired to feel you simply can't wait to see your grandchildren, not to be dreading another exhausting day with a little one you adore.


No-one should cast a vote for Hillary Clinton just because she is a woman

Back in 2008 when Hillary and Barack were slugging it out for the Democratic nomination, a masterclass in political and humiliating sexism was delivered almost every single day of the campaign.

There were the industrial-strength Hillary Clinton nutcrackers for sale: "With stainless steel thighs…this Presidential hopeful can crack open the toughest nuts that stand in her way". There was Hillary Clinton toilet paper. She was called a bitch and a ball-breaker on social media and hecklers shouted at her to "iron their shirt".

Already a Republican strategist said she's had enough of Hillary Clinton doing that whole 'woman thing'. According to Ana Navarro: "I don't need her to drown me in oestrogen every time she opens her mouth."

Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly has said "there's got to be a downside to a woman president".

What does this mean? What downside? What is he getting at?

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

This time out gender will be even more to the fore. That's smart - more women than men vote in America. Clinton's team has made a decision that, unlike the last time, they'll play to her gender. The fact that she's a mother, a grandmother and a wife.

Last time they tried to play it down. She was pitched as being like one of the lads. But when she teared up that time in New Hampshire, letting her tough image slip momentarily, she actually won the primary there.

Some things I don't want to hear during this campaign include, "women will vote for her because she's a woman" and "people won't vote for her because she's a woman".

Or anything about Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky, Hillary's hair, her pants suits or her scrunchies.

I really hope voters don't decide not to vote for her because she's a woman.

As much as I hope nobody votes for her solely because she is a woman.


Gywneth's limes leave a bitter taste

Just how detached from reality is Gwyneth Paltrow? The actress turned health and lifestyle guru accepted a Food Bank For New York City challenge to live on food stamps for one week, that's $29 worth of groceries. Is this some kind of game to her?

Being worth millions means she'd totally understand what it's like to feed your family when you're on the breadline, wouldn't it?

Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow

What's even more insulting is that she tweeted a picture of what she could buy with $29 and included foods you would never buy if money was tight - seven limes and a bunch of coriander, for example (inset). I'd like to see this reversed, with people living on food stamps challenged to eat according to Paltrow's privileged A-list lifestyle. I doubt too many busy working class parents would survive on her cleansing juice diet.


Madonna leaves one man terrified

I don't understand those defending Madonna's lip-smack on Drake at the Coachella music festival. Well, more face plant than kiss. The singer looked almost nauseous afterwards (inset). In the footage he can be seen mouthing 'what the f*** just happened?'.

Drake at Coachella

Drake at Coachella

But switch roles. If a man had done the same to a woman, he'd have been accused of sexual assault. This isn't an ageist protest either. The fact that she's 56 has nothing to do with it. It's the fact that she's clearly in a more powerful and therefore predatory role. He has since said he enjoyed it. More like he's terrified of a woman who thinks she can do anything she wants because she's Madonna.

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