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Misunderstanding over baby-sitting fee

DEAR AMY: I have four children. My daughter asked me to care for her 1-year-old two short days a week. I said I would charge her $20 a day with a promise from the parents to deposit my "fee" directly into the child's college fund. My daughter was happy to agree. My daughter-in-law has now asked me to watch her 2-month-old son because she has to work. I told her, "Yes, but when you're making money, it isn't on my time, so I will charge you." Before I could tell her my plans (same as with my daughter) she sent me an email expressing her disbelief that a Gramma would charge to watch her grandson. She made a point of telling me that her mom would never charge her to baby-sit. I don't feel I'm out of line, as I think it's a good lesson in life: Don't expect people to take on your responsibility. It is different if there is an emergency or if you want to go out with your spouse or if I asked to take the child for the day (I would never dream of charging a fee for that). But I don't feel it's my responsibility to baby-sit your children while you are out making a living. Am I wrong?

-- Gramma

DEAR GRAMMA: Some parents cannot put food on the table without free child care provided by family members. I assume your family members are not in this category.

Unfortunately, your daughter-in-law was too rude to hear out your scheme -- which I think is thoughtful and creative.

I suggest you respond to her very calmly: "I charge my own daughter for regular baby-sitting duties when she works on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The fee is $20 a day, which the parents deposit directly into the baby's bank account as a way to save for the future. This arrangement has worked well for us, and I would be very happy to do the same for you. I'm very happy your mother will provide free baby-sitting, and I can understand why you would rather have her do it than me. Let me know what you decide. I love little 'Benji' and look forward to spending time with him."

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