Objective: There is a common notion amongst people in developing countries like India that grandparents are acting as parents for the second time. Why did this opinion become rampant? In many households, both parents are working all day. Inflexible work-timing is another. Reasons can be many. At the same time, affordable day-care centres are often few or far, and caretakers may not always be safe. Parents may have fallen ill in some cases, grandparents may have expired early in others, or it may be a case of being a single-parent. Everyone’s case is different; and comparing different situations is an apple to orange comparison. But is this only an opinion or conjecture – made loud only by talk? Or is this factually correct in most households? That is the objective of this primary survey. The objective was to demystify this opinion, and see for a fact what people around us are generally doing. Hence the survey’s title – What is your situation? Nine situations were shown as options, and respondents had to select the one that closely matched their situation. The objective is not to make any judgement on what option should or shouldn’t be done; it is merely highlighting which option is majorly selected by people. More than the why, this survey looks at the what. Two limitations – all primary surveys suffer from sample-set bias and a deeper set of information of the specific causes for the choice could not be taken.
10 Facts the Survey Results show us (graph at end):-
Fact 1: Average response time recorded was only one minute, indicating most answers were instantaneous and hence reasonably true of the actual situation.
Fact 2: No respondent who clicked on the survey link skipped choosing his/her choice. Thus, we assume the survey did reach a meaningful sample who could relate to these situations personally.
Fact 3: This survey was originally shared openly on social media, i.e. respondents could comment their choice and their answers would be seen openly. Not a single response was received. Subsequently, the survey was made completely anonymous (no name, location, IP address, age, etc.) on a weblink, and then the results started pouring in. A general conclusion – many people are in these situations but do not want to openly disclose what they do.
Fact 4: Close to one-third (31%) of the respondents clicked Option 1, i.e. child is with grandparents for most of the time and both spouses are working. This was the most clicked option. So the popular notion of grandparents acting as parents for the second time for most of the working-day, with the actual parents working, generally holds true only for one-third people around us, not for the majority. That’s one myth broken!
Fact 5: About one-fifth (21%) of the respondents clicked Option 7, i.e. child is not with grandparents for most of the time, and parents are using an affordable and safe day-care centre or caretaker. This was the second most clicked option. So at least a fifth of the people around us generally do have access to safe/affordable day-care or caretaker options, and its deficiency is not as acute as the popular notion makes it out to be. Of course, it partly depends on where you live!
Fact 6: Fact 4 and 5 combined tell us that children in half of the households around us (52%) are growing up without either of their parent for most of the day. This observation is debatable with respect to the pros/cons on the child’s mind of not interacting with either parent for most of the day, and their ultimate bonding with the parents in the long-term. Incidentally, some comments in the comment box stated preferring grandparents if given a choice between grandparents or caretakers. We assume this preference is for the child’s safety; however the absence of the term parents in this list of choices (wherein grandparents and caretakers were listed) was noticeable!
Fact 7: 17% of the respondents chose Option 3, i.e. child is not with grandparents for most of the time and so one spouse has left the job. We could not take the data whether it was the male or female spouse who left the job, due to our anonymous clause. At the same time, 8% of the respondents chose Option 5, i.e. child is not with grandparents, and the female spouse is working and she wishes the male spouse would help domestically. A general conclusion – males might need to do more to support in the parenting chores in such situations! In both these options above, we assume the reason for not keeping the child with grandparents might be by choice of the parents, or the grandparents being incapacitated or expired.
Fact 8: 14% chose Option 2, i.e. child is not with grandparents for most of the time, both spouses are still working and no day-care/caretaker is used. We assume in most cases their workplaces offer flexible timings, due to which the working spouses can take care of the child without any external support, be it grandparents or day-care. Another 1% chose Option 9, commenting their case to be work from home. The above two options should be seen combined. At the same time, not a single respondent chose Option 6, i.e. child is not with grandparents for most of the time and male spouse wishes female spouse would leave her job – a point in favour of males for gender equality! Also, only 5% chose Option 4, i.e. child is with grandparents for most of the time and yet one spouse has left job. This hints the main reason for the working-spouse to leave his/her job is to devote the time to the child, if an alternative is not available. However for these 5% cases, we assume they are using this time to start a new business by leaving the earlier job and putting the child in the care of grandparents for most of the day.
Fact 9: Only 3% of the respondents chose Option 8, i.e. holding off pregnancy till the income can afford existing day-care options. In short, the cost of safe/good day-care (apart from the high fees of aspirational primary schools) is not deterring most would-be parents, as much as the popular notion on this seems to be. Most people continue with their plans of pregnancy! We assume most people are already at an income-level to be able to afford all the costs related to a child’s upbringing.
Fact 10: This survey link was initially shared individually with a few people, apart from social media. A common answer received was that people are hard-pressed for time to read such surveys – even if it would take just two-three minutes. However, the initial results received showed 1% of responses were nonsense irrelevant junk (as written in the comment box). We do not know which people sent such nonsense responses, but they obviously had ample time in hand. A general conclusion – a small minority around us who say they’re hard-pressed for time are not necessarily so!
Like every Survey, these results are open to debate because it really depends on a case-by-case situation of each person. However, some general conclusions have to be drawn. Thanks to all participants. We hope these results help demystify some of the general notions that float around with actual fact of what is really happening!
*percentage figures are rounded off
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