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 husband’s parents spent every day of the week less than two blocks from our house and very rarely even acknowledged my child. They would send a card for birthday sporadically. As she grew up, we would travel 12 hours to visit my family who loved her with all their hearts. Several years before her paternal grandfather died, she was told to address him as Mr. ——-! And she wasn’t allowed to attend his funeral. Such a strange way to treat a grandchild.

  2. I’m a grandmother who lives in the same city as my grandchildren. Most of my requests to stop by or babysit are rebuffed by my daughter in law, who will use various excuses on why it’s not a good idea. On the rare occasion when I do get to babysit, I invariably do something wrong. I get tired of asking to see my grandchildren. I have become a grandparent that only gets to see them if i make a point of contacting my son, who will intervene on my behalf. I participate in all activities I am invited to, but i fer very little special time with the grands. I am a retired teacher who knows how to entertain children. I have raised three happy and successful children. I’m at a loss on how to improve this situation.

  3. I am a blessed Memére who must get on a plane in order to visit with my grandchildren! Travel from Maine to New Orleans is a day affair but each time I visit (every 3 months), I cannot wait to get there!!! I am blessed with an amazing daughter and son in law who welcome me at each visit! They also FaceTime with me almost daily so we can see them and they see us! I count my blessings because I know that not all are as welcomed! My daughter had great grandparents and valued that relationship with them. I am forever

  4. I can almost totally relate. Both of our fathers have passed so all mine has is her grandmothers. One is two hours away and one is six. My mom is not well now but if she were I know she’d visit so very often. His mom (and siblings) on the other hand make zero effort. It completely baffles me. I was honestly surprised she even came down for our wedding. It took her a month to even come see our daughter after she was born. 2 hours away!! We are very lucky to have several older friends who are her surrogate GP’s. They come to Santa visits and Sofia teas with us, and buy her lots of presents to spoil her. It really does make you appreciate the little things, and put into perspective that some kids don’t even have parents that care about them, or simply can’t afford to spoil them. At least we have great friends to spoil her rotten, and us of course.

  5. My family lives hours away and my in laws live just 40 minutes away… But my kids see my family more. My in laws love my kids I know, but they very rarely make it their priority to spend any time with my kids. Holidays are about the only time they see them. I try to not let it bother me buy it does especially when they spend so much time with my sister in laws child. They act like us living 40 minutes away is too far to visit or they’re just too busy.

  6. My mom is/was the same. I say was because at this time I’ve actually cut off communication completely. And I’ll give her the benefit of being many states away but I thought for sure she could have had a phone conversation or letter/card sending relationship with her grand kids. Alas I am her sixth child so my kids are a string of many grand kids. But even with all that she doesn’t have a good relationship with any of her grand kids albeit one and that’s because she lives in the same house as my brother. Thank goodness the other grandparents nailed it.

  7. Both sets suck. It takes us traveling twice a year to visit the grandparents that are 21 hours away in order for our kids to see them. Otherwise they would never see them because my parents rarely travel to visit us (once every 5 years). The other set (8hrs away) is down to one as my FIL passed away. My MIL used to be more involved or interested in our children’s lives but since she has a new man in her life she goes months without even calling or messaging us. My eldest can’t stand her because of it. I promise my children that when they have babies of their own one day, those grands WILL all know us!!! I just couldn’t imagine being so full of myself to not want to be around them. I seriously don’t get it.

  8. OMG my mother in law lives with us and she do not spend time with her grandsons. We ask her to take them somewhere and she say now, the kids ask and its still a no.

  9. It is interesting that it seems a higher correlation with the paternal grandparents as a possible daughter in law issue. I’ve had my struggles with my MIL and still do but she deserves credit because she is very interested in seeing and loving my children so I’ve tried to give her plenty of access to do that but had to learn about setting boundaries along the way. With two sons of my own, it’s important to me to figure out how to be wonderful and welcomed grandparents one day in the eyes of our daughter in laws.


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