When Grandparents Aren’t Grand

Growing up, I only had my grandmother. Sadly, my father‘s parents passed away before I was born, and my mother‘s father passed away when I was four years old. I have very fond memories of my grandmother but always wished I had a grandfather. So imagine my excitement when I found out I was pregnant, and both my parents and my husband’s parents were alive and well.

I can’t lie and say that I didn’t have high expectations for my child’s grandparents. I imagined play dates, tons of quality time, and a special bond that words can’t describe. But what happens when grandparents aren’t grand?

I have many friends who complain about their parents or in-laws dropping by without any notice to see their children. My situation is the complete opposite. Trying to get my kids’ paternal grandparents to come see their grandchildren is like pulling teeth. No joke. And no, they don’t live out of town or even more than a half hour away.

When events like Grandparents Day come up at school, my kids don’t even think to invite that set of grandparents because they are basically nonexistent in their lives. And I don’t encourage it because I know they won’t show up. It breaks my heart into two. How can they not want to see their precious grandkids? It’s mind boggling to me.

It has taken me quite a few years to get past their lack of involvement in my children’s lives. I have come to accept their absence as a blessing. I would rather my children be surrounded by those who love them and make them a priority than those who don’t. It is their loss. I cannot bottle up the hundreds of hugs and kisses they have missed over the years.

On the flip side, I am incredibly blessed and thankful for my parents. They are incredible grandparents and cherish each of my children beyond words. They can’t go more than a couple of days without seeing them; it warms my heart. Their involvement is above and beyond of my expectations and definitely makes up for the lack of their other grandparents.

Are your children’s grandparents absent from their lives? How do you deal with it?


  1. My situation is similar. My father passed away, my Mom lives 12 hours away.

    My sister in law was living in the same city when I had my son and she never picked up the phone once when I was alone with a newborn with a severe case of PPD. My MIL had to be dragged to my baby shower and showed next to zero interest in her ONLY grandchild. His only living Grandpa is 3 hours away and comes maybe once a month for an hour visit. Not one of these people ever asked how I was doing, if we needed anything, nothing!!! Just a phone call would have meant a lot.

    It is maddening and the anger can trigger marriage problems if not handled correctly. Instead of empathizing with me, he defended them, especially his sister. It was only in therapy that he understood the isolation I felt- even from him.

    I now do not expect anything from them, and surround my son with people who want to spend time with him. I remind myself that I cannot control the behavior of others and it truly is their loss!

  2. Thank you for this. Both of my parents are deceased. My in-laws are not. I went so far as to move to a terrible little town near Galveston in order to be a block away, because they claimed they didn’t see my kids because we lived so far away. Even living there, we didn’t see them for a 3 month period, including when I was PAYING them to come over end help a pregnant me with changing the letterboxes once a week. It’s part of what prompted us to move to the corpus area.

  3. My ex in-laws were and still are very much part of my step-daughter’s life. They spend weekends with her, take her on trips, pay for camps, music lessons, and usually buy the most expensive gifts for birthdays and holidays. I am active duty military, so we move every few years. When my son was born, the visits stopped. My in-laws would ask if they could fly my step-daughter to visit them, but never asked about my son. My ex-husband refused. A year went by, after his birth, when they finally realized that if they wanted to see one, they had to see both. We divorced when my son was three and my ex moved right down the street from his parents. My son never interacts with his paternal grandparents…no visits, phone calls, gifts. Unfortunately, I’m positive it’s because I’m Hispanic.

  4. My granddaughter is the light.of my life. My husband and I just moved to be 7 minutes from her instead of 7 hours.
    My daughter’s mother-in-law was widowed when the baby was a year and a half old. She would not see the baby unless her son brought her without his wife when she lived two hours away. Now she lives on the other side of the country and sends presents but has no involvement with her.
    Not being a part of her grandchild’s life is her choice but I still feel.guilty. I’ve been there for the first day of preschool, her birthdays, every holiday and when I couldn’t be there.in person , we did video calls. Her other grandmother is.missing out!


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