Setting the Rules with Relative Care

Studio Shot Of Grandmother Cuddling GranddaughterRelative care, also called family care, has been the way children have been watched for centuries. Relative care means that your children are watched by a member of their family, such as a cousin, aunt, grandparent, or uncle. There are many benefits to relative care, including your child comfort around the caregiver. It also helps your child develop a stronger bond with those family members. While relative care may be less formal than a daycare or home daycare settings, there is still a need for established rules and expectations. Here are some ideas on how to set these rules and how to handle any conflicts.

Setting the Rules

Before your child begins the relative care, you should sit down with the family member and talk about how you want your child’s day to go. You should spell out what and when your child should eat, how often your child should nap, what to do if your child misbehaves, and any expectations your relative might have of your child. One of the most important things is to set forth your discipline rules and get an assurance from your relative that those rules will be followed. When a family member watches your child they may be more willing to let small misbehaviors slide. Make it clear which behaviors need disciplining and how you expect that discipline to be carried out.

Will there by visitors at your relative’s house? Go over any expectations you have as far as this is concerned. If your relative is watching your child in their home, there may be instances when service workers, friends, and other visitors may drop by.

What will happen when your child or the care giver gets sick? You shouldn’t assume that just because they are family that they are okay with watching a sick child, or that they will want to watch your child while feeling under-the-weather.

While it may seem like overkill, think about having your relative sign an informal contract that lays out all of the rules, as well as sick policies, hours ,and payment terms (if any).

Another good tip is to ask your family member to keep a journal, so you know what your child ate, when he/she napped, and any milestones accomplished during the day.

It may also be a good idea for your family member to go through basic CPR classes, or childcare certification classes, before they start caring for your child.

How to Handle Conflict with Your Relative

When you are involved in a traditional daycare setting, conflict can often be easily resolved by finding a new provider. You may not have the same luxury with relative care. When providers are members of your family, it may be easy for them to think they know what is best, or be more vocal in the way they feel you should parent. When these problems arise it is important to attempt to have an adult conversation about the problem. Don’t get angry or hostile in front of your child. If the conflict cannot be resolved, don’t be afraid to find another provider. Your child’s wellbeing is what’s most important!


What do you think?

Setting the Rules with Relative Care

Tell us what you think!


  1. LIZ says:

    good article tnx

  2. meredith says:

    I wish I had used the journal idea from the beginning. Somedays, I get no report at all and I don’t know how to ask for more info now. I know I just need to ask, but I feel like it might hurt feelings.

  3. Breanna says:

    I have an issue with my mother. Ever since I have had my daughter, she has been trying to take over. This is my first child and I told her I want to learn from my mistakes but all she does is yell at me because I’m doing everything wrong. How can I tell her in a way to let me do things my way without her taking it personally?

  4. I live with my parents and my son is 10 months old well it seems like they undermind my authority when I tell my son not to do something or so forth. I feel they also question my parenting and they seem to think they have to butt in to everything. Don’t get me wrong I love living with my parents and my son loves his grandparents but I don’t know how to handle this. what should I do?

  5. You seem such an awsome grandmother! There needs to be more grandparents that are understanding and not so bossy just because they have more life experience with children!

  6. Jess1477 says:

    all the grandparents have been a big help!

  7. Colleen says:

    I hate in when my mother in law tries to tell me how to parent.. def have to lay down the law during sleepovers!

  8. Paula says:

    I will be watching my grandson one or two nights per week then both my son and daughter in law go back to work. This is their first child, so my daughter in law is nervous. I took an infance Safety and CPR class. I plan to abide by all rules and wishes that they have. This is only fair to the parents, but to my grandson as well. It is not fair for him to be spoiled and get away with things because "grandma" let him. It is very important to follow the rules of the parent.

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