Buying Grannies

Reporter: Clare Brady

The grey haired army is being called up to service yet again, this time as ready made Grannies and Grandpas. It's not unusual for young families to be separated from their elders and now mum's and dad's are noticing the void needs to be filled. There's a lot to be said for some 'mature aged' wisdom around the house. Having said that, here's a job you don't see everyday... 'Grandmother wanted, grandparents wanted.'

Sounds like a rewarding job? Well it could be your's. Nowadays many grandchildren grow up barley knowing their grandparents, hours of travel, states even countries can divide modern families. So a group of mothers have come up with a unique idea to fill the granny and grandpa gap. Penelope Henain's two children have grandparents but they live interstate. From experience, this mum knows what a good relationship with grandparents can inject into a child's life.

"I want someone in my children's life regularly to teach my children discipline, respect and history" says Penelope. With a few friends, she put the granny-call out in a local Melbourne paper and the response has been overwhelming. "I could have 20 grandparents for my kids. I have a nanny, I don't need a nanny, I need a nanna." "There's an enormous amount of wisdom as to how parent parents bring up young people contained in that older generation and because of that separation we're not actually tapping into that" says psychologist Dr Michael Carr Greg. He sees the benefits of such a program could bring.

"We've created the artificial villages called cities and we've all move to them to get jobs, we've broken the kinship networks which sustained families in the past. This is a wonderful idea as we're rally connection" adds Dr Carr Greg. Angela Charles has grandparents for her six year old Eric but they too are divided by distance. It's the pearls of wisdom from another era she see's as missing.

"When we were kids there wasn't computers, we got out and flew kites, we played back yard cricket… why are you sitting in front of the television?" says Angela But Anne McLeish of Grandparents Victoria says though the wanted ad sounds warm, parents must be very careful "We need to think about what happens for example if things don't work out. At the very least people should do is have a police check. They should also have a written agreements about what the arrangement is going to deliver for all concerned" says Anne McLeish. Her team has counselled many volunteer grandparents when things go pear shaped.

"In once case the grandmother felt she was being used as baby sitter and not much more and in another a grandmother got into an arrangement without knowing the difficult circumstances the family was dealing with" says Anne. Penelope's friend Rachael Dupuy applauds her initiative but agrees caution is required. "It goes without saying that stranger or someone new in their lives you have to be a bit cautious of." Her children are blessed with having grandparents close by. "I couldn't imagine not having it no, it's always there" says Rachael So here it is again... the most unusual of jobs, there's no salary...but loads of laughs. "I'm not setting an age limit at all if we connect with me and my children I want you in my life" says Penelope.

For more information visit: www.grandparents.com.au