Grandparents can’t be presumed as babysitters by their children and burdened with the responsibility of taking care of their grandchildren, a family court in Pune said, while giving the final orders on a woman’s plea for maintenance of herself and her kids. “It is the parent’s duty to take care of the kids, not the grandparents’. They are there to guide and assist the parents in bringing up their babies, and not to be burdened with the duty of bringing them up,” the court said.
The woman who lodged the plea is now in her late 40s, and got married over two decades ago. She moved the court in 2012 seeking maintenance for herself and her children. The woman alleged that her husband neglected their needs for the longest time and that she had to resume her job four months after the birth of her firstborn to sustain themselves.
She also stated that her in-laws left in a few months and went to their other son’s house without looking after her infants. Resultantly, she had to keep her children in a crèche and pay for it, while her husband never took care of the expenses.
Swati Chauhan, the family court judge stated that in today’s world, it is quite normal to keep one’s children in crèche to give them proper care, as women are getting more educated and pursuing their careers. “The grandparents are not legally bound to take care of the grandchildren by keeping aside their own plans and activities,” she added. The court also said that her tone in holding her in-laws responsible for having to place her infant children, in a crèche, was “absolutely wrong”.
The court also observed that in Indian families, grandparents are thought to be a substitute for nannies. “After performing all the duties throughout their young and adult age, people live for themselves in the old age. Grandchildren are one of the precious endowments that every grandparent looks forward to, but that should not be their burden,” said the judge.
Citing Gerontology, the study of ageing and the problems of the aged the court said, “The olds need their own space, time, entertainment, pleasure and rest, and it’s time take care of their needs.”
In an interim order in 2012, the court had ordered the husband to pay maintenance of Rs 10,000 for each child, as the wife was bringing them up single-handedly. But the husband had stopped paying the money long ago, and the court directed him to share the cost of the children’s education equally, and pay maintenance for the daughter till she marries and the son turns 18. The court also mentioned that the wife should continue paying for the extracurricular activities of the kids.