Mother-in-law Wants Payment for Helping with Baby

What Should I do? (Pick as many as you think are good approaches.)

    1. Politely refuse to pay extra for help, but offer olive branches in the form of promised benefits like nice meals, movies, even trips?
    1. Claim it is too much of a stress on our budget for various tenable reasons we could point out.
    1. Mention moving out as an option if grandma childcare is so draining; we can remove the drain.
    1. Calmly but flat-out refuse to pay money for what we consider to be filial duties.
    1. Mention the option of moving back to America because my parents would be able to support us without so much trouble.
    1. Explain how much we appreciate any help they have given us in regards to the baby and that we understand taking care of a newborn and a new person is a big responsibility so we are happy to contribute to the family, but that we feel that is a little too much given our budget.
    1. Agree to pay a smaller amount of money just to appease them.
    1. Agree to pay as much money as we feel we can afford to pay them for it.

0 voters

Hello all. My wife is Taiwanese, we’ve been married for 4.5 years the past two of which we’ve been living with her parents in 3-story house they built recently. We live on the third floor, where they mostly leave me to my own devices but are cordial and polite as they have always been. They make few requests of me though they do tend to nag my wife at times for things you would expect parents to nag their children about. For the most part, things are pretty good. I have remarked many times to my friends that my in-laws are pretty good, especially considering the crazy I hear other foreigners relate about their in-laws. That is until now.

My wife told me this evening that her mother “has a friend whose daughter gives her 20,000-30,000NT a month for the time she spends watching her grandson (she owns three cell phone shops). Isn’t that sweet?” yeah, well mom’s so generous she doesn’t expect more than 10,000 a month from us after our baby is born! Apparently she’s been asking the question to my wife repeatedly at intervals. This would be her first grandchild. I would have thought she would be excited to spend time with her soon-to-be-born grandson, not try a form a filial guilt extortion.

Mind you we give them 15,000NT every month already. 5,000 is for rent for living in their house (even though we are family), 5,000 is for utilities ( which is a very liberal amount for our usual bills), and 5,000 “respect” money to help them get by since both my father-in-law and mother-in-law have recently or semi-retired. I am simplifying the situation but i think you can get most of the idea. I am happy to help out, but I feel as though we’re putting in more than really needs to be put it.

Now I do have steady income. It is nothing to shout about (approx. 60,000NT/month) and my wife is working for now, but that will soon be changing running up to the delivery and certainly after it for a while. We will need to buy a car soon too which will stretch our budget especially given the price of baby gear these days. I don’t mind paying for a babysitting service. What really buggers my comfort zone is the expectation that payment is due for watching the baby. If my wife and I are both at work, grandmom and grandad are the perfect choice to hold the fort, right? I wonder if they gave their parents a grandparenting stipend for time spent with their grandchildren? Would we appreciate their help? Of course! Would we be happy to treat them to dinner and movies and what not? Of course. Would we cheerfully share the experience of the boy growing up with his Taiwanese family with them? OF course! Do they deserve money for doing something grandparents around the yarn-ball of the world’s history have done for millenium without cash incentive?

It comes off to me as being rather cold. Don’t they want to spend time with their first grandson? Wouldn’t the joy and beauty of that experience be enough payment anyone should expect? Is it cheap to draw the line and say, “No, paying a fee grandmom demands for watching the offspring of her own progeny is too much.” Is that cheap?” We’re not planning on leaving our newborn son at home and rolling off to vacation in the Caribbean or anything. We’re two responsible once-young adults. We do hope that mom can step in and give some advice when needed, maybe take a few feeding shifts if needed while we get our parenting feet under us. We still plan on being the primary care givers. If we need a break, we would certainly hope that she could give us a night or two off. Is that so much to ask that she requires a monetary compensation?

Should Taiwanese grandparents have a right to be paid for watching their grandkids? Personally I find it rather offensive considering the amount of money we pay into the family already for her to expect payment.

What do you all think? Do I sound like a hum-buggered cheapo? Is this something I should give in to? I really have no intention to, but I would like to get some outside perspectives/annectdotal advice/ or reactions from some out there. Thanks!
Most importantly is how to handle the situation without causing big problems, letting anyone lose face, and/or cause avoidable tension and strife.

Thanks a lot, all! I really want some response from this. Do my poll real quick. Check any and all that you think would be appropriate:

Enough reason to pay.

There should be option 9. Pay and have the baby happy and secure, and get 2 baby sitters for the price of 1/4th :slight_smile:

I do see their point, but there’s a difference between hanging out with the kid occasionally and taking on a full-time job, after they’ve retired. They’ve already brought up your wife. 10 grand is nothing for their time and the peace of mind that your child is being taken care of by someone that actually cares about him/her.

Will they be taking care of him during office hours? That’s a lot of their time and energy, with a baby. Maybe this is a roundabout way of saying they don’t really want to be there all the time, or that they need more money. Do they have any other income, other than the 15 000?

not criticising you, just trying to think how they might be thinking.

(Couldn’t vote, btw, I think the poll thing is broken)

hmmm…interesting but not new…forget the right and wrong part of it, you are all part of a family so no point in pointing fingers…

if you can afford to pay for a babysitting service then maybe u can politely tell mom that this is what you have planned since you did not want to give her more trouble and at her age she should be enjoying her retired life and not taking care of kids again…she already did it with her own kids…

there are a lot of grandparents who do not want to take care of the grandkids even if you are willing to pay them…

i believe self help is the best help…if someone asks me for help I do the best I can to help but as for my own stuff I try my best to do it myself…better not to expect!!!

“the submitted form was invalid”: Can’t vote.

Come on dude, what are you thinking? What do grandparents do where you come from? In my country they maybe look after them every odd weekend, or on Sundays or something like that. The occasional evening so Mum and Dad can go see a movie or have some quiet time to themselves. But all day, every day… I think not. Grandparents are a weekly treat, and Mum yells at Grandma for giving them ice cream and coke.

For the amount of care your child needs, you should be paying someone. I’m paying my baby sitter 15,000 a month. I don’t know what prices are around the island; but would recommend you shop around and get some prices. I doubt it will be cheaper than 15G though.
(I prefer that option as unlike Grandad, the baby sitter and her husband don’t smoke, run a tight ship and a clean house, and there are no family obligations.)

On the other hand… 5,000 rent sounds pretty minimal, but that depends on where you’re living. I’m paying 8,000, and I’m in one of the cheapest places on the island property wise. But 5,000 for utilities is a lot, maybe you should be paying 3-4, and “respect money” sounds quite a lot. I wouldn’t be paying that, especially as I don’t think many married women here give money to their parents on a regular basis. BUt if you’re living with them… and it makes family relationships go smoother…

I’d say offer to move out, and stop paying respect money, or offer to pay 10,000. But on the whole, it sounds like you’re getting a pretty fair deal anyway, and you’re asking a lot. 15,000 is not unreasonable.

This is whacked, from the perspective of a Taiwanese family. They obviously want several generations under their roof/in their building, although they accept money for that as well.

“Oh, goodness, what an unusual arrangement your friend’s family has! Is their family having issues? All that money between family members – is the daughter’s marriage okay? I do hope a divorce isn’t in the works! The daughter must not be treating her mother well if the mother is asking for money to take care of her own grandchild! Goodness, next that girl’ll be putting her mother in a nursing home! I guess that would cost her less than the NT$30,000, anyway!” :wink:

(Seriously, I don’t think you want to be asking non-Taiwanese about this. This is a Taiwanese family matter, you’re not exactly in Taipei even, and really should be decided between you and your wife then presenting a united front to her family. All of us putting our oars into the water without knowing anything about the details of your family situation could be reaaally bad.)

We had a full time nanny for our son for NT$15k per month. Now she looks after the 2 of them for NT$25k.

My MIL would do it for free, however we are more comfortable with the nanny.

It’s impossible to know what she’s thinking. She may be old school and trying to find a way to reflect that. Can you give more info about her history?

It’s almost surely not about being paid for services rendered though.

I think the only way to address this is to sit down and talk it through. You would probably find that the 30K a month is everything - rent, respect, babysitting and more a reflection of what the friend’s daughter can afford than a reflection of what the child care is worth.

You are having your first kid, and have no idea how much work it is - its massive, especially in the first 6 months. You will need as much help and good will as you can get - no-one is going to get much sleep and everyone will do what they can because thats the way it is.

You suggest that 60K a month is a good income - I would respectfully suggest you can probably do more to earn more if you wanted to? NT$10K a month is what US$300? Its not a lot of money and the bragging rights for your MIL are well worth it.

Clearly from your post and your poll you are offended - get used to it. These kinds of misunderstandings are part and parcel of mixed background families. If you really can’t afford it then say so and agree on a smaller amount but don’t get your panties all up in a bunch.

Good luck.

It’s standard practice to pay the caretaker of one’s child.

It’s standard practice to do so in Taiwan, even when the caretaker is family.

It’s standard practice in Taiwan for the wife to make financial arrangements with her family about various matters and the foreign husband’s role is to butt out because he’s not part of the blood family or the culture.

NT$10K per month sounds fair for full-time help, including meals. We pay NT$8K per month for our long-time nanny to care for our girl from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm and provide dinner for the three of us four days per week.

It doesn’t mean amah and agong care any less about the child or are any less excited to spend time with the child. It’s just that compensation is expected in return for services here, even among family, so they are just following the norm.

Congratulations on the child, btw, and best of luck with the caretaking situation.

Talking to my inlaws about their generation, they share stories of how their mothers worked for the family, and didn’t get any salary but was “looked after” (given food, clothes, etc). Maybe they didn’t pay any babysitting fee but they didn’t get their own salary, either. And the grandparents would not look after kids for you to say go out alone or anything like that. You took your kids everywhere, that was it. My inlaws grew up and then provided for the older generation, and any others who couldn’t look after themselves, as well as for their children.

That generation that has now retired or reaching retirement might well be in a position to provide housing etc for the younger generation, but they don’t get the “benefit” of the salaries of the younger generation, that their grandparents did from their parents. It seems to me that what is “normal”, “expected” or “whack” is no longer clear to anyone.

Personally, I know my own mother would flat-out refuse to take care of my kids fulltime. It’s really hard work for older people to look after little ones. My inlaws here are fantastic and help out a lot, and I know both of their children give them money each month as they can afford as a show of thanks for what they do. Because, without their help, the children would have to go to fulltime babysitters or someone would have to quit work to look after them. It’s something to be very thankful for.

The bottom line is that if you don’t pay the MIL you’ll have to pay an ai-yi which will cost about 15k a month.

We pay an ai-yi because we live to far from the MIl and besides which she’s already looking after my SIL’s baby which she does get paid for.

Why shouldn’t grandparents get paid for a full time carers position? If it was occasionally i’m sure they’d be happy to help out but basically you’re expecting them to work for nothing. Do you work for free?

[quote=“tastybrain”]Thanks a lot, all! I really want some response from this. Do my poll real quick. Check any and all that you think would be appropriate:[/quote]Your poll doesn’t have my suggestions.

  1. Buy your own condo and move out so you are independent.
  2. Hire a babysitter. Don’t turn family into employees.
  3. Give no monthly income to your inlaws for any reason.

We paid our nanny 20K NTD and another 2K NTD extra for solid food when our kid reached 6 m/o.Milk, diapers etc were on us ; and that was some 6-8 years ago. If you are more comfortable with hiring a nanny, then do so. I would not expect to pay my MIL for her time with my kids but then it is not her duty to help out either.

We pay around NT$15k per month for our nanny, from noon til 9pm 5 days a week. If mother in law lived closer and wanted to look after the kid on that kind of basis, OF COURSE we’d pay her!
I’m kind of surprised you’re even CONSIDERING not paying!
You’re not talking about the odd evening of babysitting so you and your wife can go out for dinner or a movie. You’re talking about a job of work.

yeah, have to agree with sandman.One ammendment to my previous post though, I do not expect to be ‘paying’ my MIL because we are already giving her monthly spending money and we take care of my in laws’ living expenses because they live with us, in our house.

Thanks for all the input everyone! It has definitely helped.

Frankly, even after finding out that it is a cultural norm to pay family for helping with a kid here I still find it pretty strange and it comes as no less of a shock for me. Also my wife failed to express to me that it is a normal practice here even after I remarked many times that I had never heard of such a thing. One part that I left out in my original post was that I had already offered to pay for live-in help. After further communication, it has turned out that my in-laws were not aware of that. So you can see it was never my expectation that she care for our child full time. There has been a considerable amount of misunderstanding, especially since I am getting my information from my wife who has separate long-standing issues with her mother and the way she communicated to me what her mother said didn’t help. So far we’ve managed to forestall any kind of crisis, though, and we’re doing our best to calmly work through the cultural and language barriers. We have learned in the past that they are very sensitive to their money situation and the fact that we pretty much support them, but they also value their face a great deal which really gets in the way of communicating. It would have served us well to remember that before either of us let ourselves get worked up. After talking to my wife about it again last night, I think she’s more upset about the situation than I am which points to the extent to which her own issues with her mother come into it. They talked it through and I’ll be sitting down with them tonight most likely.

I’ll try to give updates as things develop. Wish me luck!

I asked a few coworkers and friends about this. Most said that in general one should pay if you can afford it but that many families do different things in different (economic) situations. I don’t think that it is a “cultural norm” to pay per se.

I think legal live-in help is very difficult to find in Taiwan.

Good luck!

you’re a cheap-o. babies are a crazy amount of work. if you expect help from them on a daily basis, i don’t see what’s wrong with them expecting you to pony up. 10k is nothing. nannies in taipei city are 30k. and those are complete strangers.

The OP mentioned that he never expected his MIL to care for the baby full-time, he was just shocked that one has to pay a kin.