What to Do About Grandparents Who Do Not Care About Their Grandkids

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When you have children, it’s a really exciting time for you. You’re growing your family and you want your parents to be involved in the lives of your children as they grow up. 

visiting grandparents

Most of the time, parents are incredibly excited to see their own children become parents and they cannot wait to be grandparents.

In some cases, though, grandparents are not involved in their grandchildren’s lives. This can happen for a number of reasons, and sometimes you may not even know why they are doing it. 

If your children are asking about spending time with their grandparents but their grandparents just don’t want to see them it can be heartbreaking. 

There are a few ways to deal with it and help make sure your children know it has nothing to do with them, and it’s not their fault. 

Do They Really Not Care or Are They Just Not Spending as Much Time as You Think They Should?

This can be a really difficult question to answer. 

When it comes to having children, you may have envisioned family dinners multiple nights a week or grandparents wanting to take your child for a weekend to spend time with them. 

Your vision of them being a grandparent and their vision may be completely different. It’s important to keep that in mind when thinking that they don’t care about their grandchildren.

This is not to minimize or dismiss the fact that there are some grandparents who genuinely do not care about or want to spend time with their grandchildren. This could be the case for you. 

So, you need to determine if it’s just a little less quality time they are spending with you and your children or if they really don’t care about what’s going on with you or your children. 

If it’s a case of just spending a little less time than you imagined they would it may not have anything to do with you. 

There could be a very reasonable explanation as to why your parents are not as involved as you think they should be, and here are a few examples. 

A Very Hectic Schedule

As a parent you may feel as though your schedule is just so crazy – no free time for anything. You are not the only one. 

If your parents are still working, even part-time, they likely have a lot of things still on the go with their own schedule. This doesn’t mean they don’t love you or don’t want to be part of your life, they just have other things going on. 

This generation of grandparents have almost been programmed to be busy – all the time. Even if they retire, they don’t know what to do with all the extra time they have. 

senior busy working

Knowing that they have a lot of extra time on their hands, they may pack their schedule so that they are busy all the time. 

Keeping this in mind, they don’t have the extra time to dote on your children because they’ve already committed to something else.

Know if you ask them to come to an event or important date for your kids and they say they have something else to do or won’t commit, this could be a sign they don’t care or are prioritizing other things over you and your family. 

They Are Not a Full-Time Babysitter

Many grandparents today report feeling as though their children feel entitled to free babysitting services – any time they want. 

Grandparents have already been parents, and therefore have already raised their children. They want to be grandparents – do the fun things and spoil their grandchildren. They do not want to be secondary parents. 

On top of this, they may feel a little hurt if you haven’t kept the best relationship with them over the years but then when you have a baby you expect that they will just forget all that and form a perfect family. 

Grandparents want to be involved, but they are not parents to your child. Spend time with them on weekends or having dinners together, but do not expect you can just drop them off for the weekend when you need some time off (unless they offer, of course). 

Talk to Them

If you feel as though your parents are not spending as much time with your child as you believe they should, it’s important to talk to them.

They may feel as though they don’t want to step on anyone’s toes and want to give you your space to be parents without making you feel like they’re telling you what to do.

Many times it will simply be some miscommunication that has brought you to this destination so having an honest conversation with them can go a long way to resolving your hurt feelings. 

Now in some cases, grandparents genuinely do not want to spend time with their grandchild and there is definitely a divide in the family. 

senior mother and her daughter

An Uneasy Relationship

If you haven’t had the best relationship with your parents over the course of your life they may feel as though it’s not natural for them to become involved in the life of your children. 

This isn’t necessarily a reflection of you but rather they feel as though they shouldn’t pretend to be involved in your life because they really haven’t been up until this point. 

This is not to excuse their behavior or to say it’s going to be the right answer, but it is important to remember that this is an awkward time for them too. They will be adjusting to being grandparents and dealing with their own emotions. 

They are interested – but just not to your expectations

When you expected grandparents to be a certain way but they aren’t then it can feel like they don’t care about you or your family. 

When you found out you were pregnant you may have pictured them bringing you homemade meals you can reheat or taking your children for the weekend so you and your partner can get away for a couple days on your own. 

This is your picture of what grandparents should be, but it may not be theirs. Unmet expectations can feel a lot like your parents do not care about your family when really they’re setting healthy boundaries. 

Remember: these are your children, not theirs. Their role is to visit and spend time with family dinners together – not raise your children. 

When to Walk Away

There will be situations for some people where their parents just genuinely do not want to be involved in their grandchildren’s lives – and they may never know why. 

In these cases, the grandchildren may not understand exactly why their grandparents don’t want to spend time with them – especially if they have another set of grandparents who do. 

If this is happening to you and you feel as though you really cannot put any more effort forth to getting your parents involved in your children’s lives then it could be time to walk away. 

Cutting off a relationship completely is never easy and it’s not a step to be taken lightly, but you can’t expect your children to continue to be hurt so why put them in that situation?

father and son talking

Your parents are adults, and if they want spend time with you and your family they will reach out. You’ve made your thoughts and intentions known, so they know the door is open. 

You may find that you only see your parents on major holidays and don’t go a lot of catching up in between. 

Not everyone is going to have a lot of grandparent involvement in their children’s lives – and that’s ok. Your children will know how much you love them and you’re there to support them. 

Explaining This to Your Children

It can be really hard for children to understand why it is that their grandparents don’t want to spend time with them – they will think they don’t like them. 

If your children are old enough to have a conversation with, you may want to be careful that you don’t place blame directly onto anyone. Which can be really hard. 

In the future, their grandparents may want to reach out and build that relationship. Your children should have enough information that they understand it’s not their fault, but don’t point any fingers. 

Make sure you do emphasize how much you love your children and enjoy spending time with them. You can also make sure you’re involving other family and friends into activities so that your children are not feeling abandoned. 

When your parents don’t have a great relationship – or even any relationship – with their grandchildren it can be hard for you to watch. You had visions of family dinners, holidays and summer BBQs with family around.

However this might not be the reality for everyone. For any number of reasons, your parents may not want to spend a lot of time with their grandchildren. It is important that you make sure your children know you love them. The bottom line is that you can’t change the behavior of an adult and it isn’t up to you to try and understand them.