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Where Grandma Needs A Permit To Have The Grandkids Stay Over

Some working parents couldn't make it without the grandparents taking on steady child-care duties. But in Zurich, Switzerland, if the kids are with the grandparents for an extended stay, it must be reported to the city -- or the family risks a fi

Where did the parents go? (kindergentler2001)
Where did the parents go? (kindergentler2001)

ZURICH - Little David loves to spend the night at Grandma and Grandpa's. The two-year-old generally spends two or three nights a week at his grandparents' house. It's an ideal solution for his parents, both of whom work. "For us, it's an alternative to day care. And because my parents live at some distance from us, he often spends the night," says the child's father.

Many families would no doubt see young David's situation as pretty routine – quite normal in fact. Why shouldn't he spend quality time with his grandparents? And yet such arrangements are not something authoritites in Zurich, Switerland take lightly. There, parents who leave their children in the care of grandparents for more than two days a week on a regular basis have to report the arrangement to social services – or face a fine of 1,000 Swiss francs ($1,060). Not only that, but grandparents also need a permit.

Peter Hausherr, who heads the city office for foster children, believes that leaving one's children with relatives can indeed be a good way to manage the demands of work and raising a family -- and that as a general rule such arrangements don't need to be reported to authorities. "However, if the focal point of a child's life shifts to the relatives, then it must be reported," he told Tages-Anzeiger

Concretely, that means that any arrangement whereby a child under the age of 18 regularly spends three nights or more a week -- or 10 nights or more a month -- with other family members must be officially declared. "Regularly" is defined as a two-month period or more, which means that vacations -- assuming the child isn't spending non-vacation time with the relatives as well -- don't count, said Hausherr.

If little David were to spend any more time at his grandparents' house than he currently does, his grandparents would have to get a permit. The point of the permit, according to Hausherr, is both to protect the child and to make sure that the city can support the "foster parents' in their job. To make sure that children are being properly looked after at their grandparents', staffers in Hausherr's office make house visits. "In most cases, the relatives don't perceive the visits as check-ups but as welcome back-up," said Hausherr. The visits usually go off without a hitch. In 2011, only three families were subject to follow-up checks.

"And fines – to my knowledge, nobody has been fined for the past 10 years," he said.

Read the full story in German by Lucienne-Camille Vaudan

Photo – kindergentler21

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What's Spoiling The Kids: The Big Tech v. Bad Parenting Debate

Without an extended family network, modern parents have sought to raise happy kids in a "hostile" world. It's a tall order, when youngsters absorb the fears (and devices) around them like a sponge.

Image of a kid wearing a blue striped sweater, using an ipad.

Children exposed to technology at a very young age are prominent today.

Julián de Zubiría Samper


BOGOTÁ — A 2021 report from the United States (the Youth Risk Behavior Survey) found that 42% of the country's high-school students persistently felt sad and 22% had thought about suicide. In other words, almost half of the country's young people are living in despair and a fifth of them have thought about killing themselves.

Such chilling figures are unprecedented in history. Many have suggested that this might be the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but sadly, we can see depression has deeper causes, and the pandemic merely illustrated its complexity.

I have written before on possible links between severe depression and the time young people spend on social media. But this is just one aspect of the problem. Today, young people suffer frequent and intense emotional crises, and not just for all the hours spent staring at a screen. Another, possibly more important cause may lie in changes to the family composition and authority patterns at home.

Firstly: Families today have fewer members, who communicate less among themselves.

Young people marry at a later age, have fewer children and many opt for personal projects and pets instead of having children. Families are more diverse and flexible. In many countries, the number of children per woman is close to or less than one (Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong among others).

In Colombia, women have on average 1.9 children, compared to 7.6 in 1970. Worldwide, women aged 15 to 49 years have on average 2.4 children, or half the average figure for 1970. The changes are much more pronounced in cities and among middle and upper-income groups.

Of further concern today is the decline in communication time at home, notably between parents and children. This is difficult to quantify, but reasons may include fewer household members, pervasive use of screens, mothers going to work, microwave ovens that have eliminated family cooking and meals and, thanks to new technologies, an increase in time spent on work, even at home. Our society is addicted to work and devotes little time to minors.

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