How Grandparents Around The World Help Out With The Kids

In-laws are in charge.

by Alison Zeidman
baby and grandmother in Thailand
flickr / haribote

Here in the U.S., it’s pretty much a given that grandparents are going to spoil your kid and criticize your parenting. But what’s true over the river and through the woods doesn’t necessarily hold water over the ocean and through the customs office. So before you emigrate to escape your in-laws, here’s a sampling of how grandparent customs compare across the globe.

READ MORE: The Fatherly Guide to Parenting in Other Countries

China: Blame ‘Em For Big Boned Children

In China, it’s common for 3 generations to all live under the same roof, and grandparents are the primary caregivers. That might sound rough, but kids in China are actually up against something even worse than 2 times the Tiger Moms and Dads. A recent study found that Chinese grandparents are contributing to the country’s obesity pandemic by overfeeding their grandkids and letting them skip household chores. Why? They don’t really understand (or just ignore) the implications for overweight kids. There’s baby fat, and then there’s baby really fat.

Korea: Nana Would Quit If She Could

Grandparents are also the primary source of childcare in Korea, but they’re paid for their services. It’s common for some to rake in nearly $800 a month. Not that it matters: In 2015, a large number of grandparents demanded a raise for their caretaking efforts (can you put a price on potty training? You sure can). Even with that, the golden years are aren’t so golden: A Korean Women’s Development Institute survey found that 73.8 percent of caregiving grandparents would quit if they could.

India: Living With Grandma Ignites The Loins

Cultural customs vary across India, but the roles of grandparents in the Bengali and Khasi communities in northeast India definitely stand out. Married couples in both communities live with their parents. Bengali women move in with their husband’s family, and Khasi men with their wife’s. In-law-adjacent sex might be one of your greatest fears, but in both cultures,moving in with grandma actually increased the wives’ fertility rates. And you thought it was annoying when your mom just asks about more grandchildren.

Spain: Where Nana And Pop Should Go On Strike

In Spain, the golden years don’t seem to be so great for a lot of grandparents. They’re basically full-time, fill-in parents. It’s uncommon for them to make wages — or get much respect. More than half watch the grandkids every day. And 1 out of every 8 of that number spend more than 9 hours a day in a caretaking role. In 2010, things got so bad a workers’ union encouraged them to go on strike.

The Philippines: Keeping It All In The Family

Filipino grandparents are some of the most revered old people in any society. They’re seen as the keeper of old world values, and respect elders is extremely important. In fact, it’s common to see grown-up grandkids greet their grandparents by kneeling before them and pressing their hand to their foreheads. Just like the grandson of Jorel.

England: Where Grandparents Are Getting Benefits

If you thought Sweden had the paid parental leave game on lock, then check out what’s happening across the pond. In 2015, British Conservatives in Parliament announced a plan to give working grandparents the legal right to take time off and share parental leave pay. Under the rule, families can designate only 1 grandparent to receive benefits. Perhaps some friendly leg wrestling will decide who gets the cash?