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Grandparents are Not Babysitters - Indian Court

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A lower court in India hearing a plea by a woman who claimed that she was forced to send her children to crèche as her in-laws did not cooperate in babysitting, has clarified that for grandparents, babysitting could be a choice but not a duty.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — In a telling judgment of the changing societal norms in India, a district court has ruled that grandparents should not be burdened with the care and security of grandchildren and it is "not their primary duty."

"Grandparents may be there to support, guide and assist in raising the children. However, they should not be burdened to babysit grandchildren as their primary duty, by compromising on their relaxation, entertainment, and travel plans," a Pune family court observed in its order.

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The family court in Pune, Maharashtra, gave the order legally nullifying the popular perception in urban Indian societies that grandparents are always free and willing to babysit their grandchildren.

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The court was hearing a plea for maintenance by a mother of two who argued that her parents-in-law were responsible for forcing her to place her children in a crèche in reply to which the court categorically said that grandparents could not be held accountable if children need to be left in a crèche.

Professionals working in the field of child protection and care say that the Pune court order is symptomatic of the prevailing conditions in Indian urban society and the situation is set to only worsen with time.

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"The court order is not surprising. In urban households with both husband and wife working, grandparents have been bracketed to the role of a babysitter and it is taking a toll on both the children as well as the aged parents. The working couples have a tendency to outsource parenting to a creche or an elder in the family. The court decision may in the long run help mend the prevailing situation in Indian societies," said Shiney Anil, program manager at Jovita — an organization working for child protection. 

The woman had approached the Pune family court in 2012 when both her children were minors. She had accused her husband of not providing for them financially, which compelled her to resume her job four months after she first gave birth. In her appeal, she also alleged that a few months after taking care of her infant, her in-laws were away on travel to visit their second son, which is why the woman had to leave her children in the creche.

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