Momfession Monday: Coping with the Uninvolved Grandparent

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This article was also a featured topic on the Momfessions Podcast. Take a listen to our discussion on how to deal with disappointment and difficult grandparent situations!

uninvolved grandparent

I dread Saturday mornings in the spring. It’s not because I don’t absolutely love springtime because, in actuality, it’s my favorite time of year. In fact, it normally has the makings of the perfect day: The warming baseball fields begin to line with spectators as energetic children stomp towards their dugout with bats and gloves spilling out of their fresh, new bags. Parents are dressed in their team’s colors, bragging their beloved child’s number on the backs of their shirts, and my favorite, the grandparents who are always there 30 minutes before game time, cheering the loudest, not taking an eye off home plate for anything.  

My heart feels so happy for the children whose grandparents are happily and selflessly involved in every activity of their grandchild’s life. But, my heart equally breaks because my parents, who live five minutes away, make an excuse nearly every game of why they cannot come. It’s not just sporting events. They prefer to Facetime a couple of times a week, but aren’t willing to get in the car and drive the five minutes to interact with my children. In fact, we haven’t been invited over to their house in two months. “Why do you feel like you have to be invited? The door is always open,” they say. But, whenever we invite ourselves, the excuses begin and when we just “show up,” it’s never convenient. They are too tired or too hot or too exhausted to interact. 

These are not the parents I grew up with. 

We see grandparents doting on their children everywhere we go. A quick trip to Chick-Fil-A? Check. The zoo? Triple check. Dates at Charley’s on Friday night? Yep. Fellow mamas are constantly talking about how they have to fend their parents off from impeding into their lives. Their parents take their kids for the whole weekend and tell them to “spend the weekend enjoying your marriage,” while my parents make jokes in front of me that they are just “free babysitters” even though they never. ever. babysit. They’ve never even had my children overnight. When they do spend a few hours with them alone, all I hear about are the 6,000 sacrifices that they made for me to run that errand (not even a date night!).

This is not about a free babysitter. This is about the tricyclelack of desire in their hearts to want to be present for our children. 

Our children crave time with their grandparents. They do not crave to show up and each grandparent toss them an iPad; they crave THEM. They crave memories, laughter, stories, a relationship. They ask for them at sporting events, school programs, to come to dinner with us; they ask us to leave when we go over there for cherished one-on-one time (but God forbid we actually leave). Our children love them with all their being, while we have to put effort into our hearts not breaking at their disinterest in reciprocating that bond. 

Don’t get me wrong, this is also not about super fun dates to the movies or nerf wars or endearing tea parties that I feel my children “miss out on.” I absolutely do not expect to have a grandparent that does anything complex, or for me, or for show. It’s about wanting to be involved in their grandchildren’s lives. 

As the parents, and specifically as the daughter of the uninvolved grandparent, I have two choices: To let the resentment continue to build, or to accept the disappointment and let my heartbreak teach me lessons. In the recent years, I have chosen the latter.  

Lower your expectations. We do not like to be compared to other moms. We spend our time trying to fight those stereotypes of what a good mom is, so how is it fair to do that to our parents? While it may break our heart to see our parents so disinterested with our children, nothing good will come from comparing them up against everything they are not. We must lower our expectations to avoid continuing to expect more and getting less.  

Be strong for our children. Our children love with blind eyes. An uninvolved grandparent to them may be normal, or it may hurt them as equally as you. The best thing we can do is to encourage them and talk positively about their grandparents and try our best to foster a bond regardless of the circumstances. This can seem hard impossible when we are full of pent up resentment, but part of teaching unconditional love is showing unconditional love. Our children will learn more lessons about our character through this type of response.

Let others in. When neighbors, friends, church members, or other trusted adults express adoration towards your children, believe it. Because my parents are so disengaged with my children, I simply cannot understand why my neighbors BEG to babysit them or bring them into their homes for special activities. Because I do not see this want from my own parents, I just don’t understand how anyone would want to spend time with them. When we have that opportunity, we need to let these trusted people in and allow love them the way you pray that your parents someday will.

Don’t repeat the mistake. My siblings and I often talk about how we are going to ensure that we don’t inherit this trait, or whatever it is. When we feel the most hurt, we write ourselves a letter and put it in a safe place. In that letter, we bare all: Our hurt, our anger, our disappointment, and our lack of understanding. Before I became a parent, I stuck my foot in my mouth a lot. Who is to say that won’t be the same for when I have grandchildren? I am determined to not become the uninvolved grandparent, and one of the few ways I can actively work towards avoiding it is leaving myself reminders of how my 30-something self feels.  

How do you cope when the uninvolved grandparents are your parents? 

73 COMMENTS

  1. I can absolutely relate to this. It’s really taken an emotional toll on me. I come from a big family with tons of aunts and uncles involved with their children and grands and friends with super involved grandparents for their kids. Being surrounded by it, it’s hard not to be bitter about our situation. We have no help with our kids and it’s exhausting trying to be everything they need. Just to have someone else talk to them, listen to them and love them would be a huge help. It’s made marriage hard too. There are no breaks, date nights, etc. We are tired, disappointed and so often take our frustrations out with each other. The kids suffer too because they get what’s left over after taking care of everything. Our parents weren’t very involved parents either but we did have some awesome Grandma’s. What I wouldn’t give for my kids to have that relationship. Everyone says it takes a village. What do you do when the village isn’t there?

    • Yes, I feel you! I have a heavy heart and much sadness for the same reason. I don’t have the answer either to this painful and difficult situation.

      • I agree too! My mom lives so close by. She is divorced and lives with my 30 year old unmarried brother who is basically out of the house all week. She has no responsibilities except for a 8 to 4 job. She has no friends or hobbies. Yet she has never once shown up to my house offering to help play or take care of my 2 year old son. She rarely invites us over or insists to drop off my son so she can baby sit for the day so my husband and i can have some free time to our selves. I’ve tried talking to her countless times because I’m 6 months pregnant and habe had a complicated pregnancy yet she out right tells me i have no right to be disappointed and upset because she can behave any way she wants bc she’s not my “nanny”. My son is 2 and she has only watched him a handful of times bc i dropped him off in emergencies. It’s hurtful and difficult because her own mom helped her watch us our entire lives and we have an incredible relationship and all my other friends parents seem to be dotting over their grandchildren. It really hurts my heart that someone who is basically alone and has an only grandchild is so uni nterested in him or me even when i have requested and even begged for help. I just don’t know what to do bc I’m in so much pain and just tired and overwhelmed.

    • I totally loved being a mom but have zero interest in being anyone’s grandma. Sounds like work and responsibility. When I needed a babysitter I hired one and didn’t ask my parents to babysit.

      • Well fuck you too! People like you don’t deserve grandkids showing you any love. My parents both act like disinterested twats and you sound just like them. Miserable corpse, don’t worry it’s almost over for you, just a few more lonely loveless years.

      • You completely missed the point. The poster said it’s not about babysitting. I agree with “the angry son” in a little less harsher manner.

        The sad thing is you associate grandchildren as work.

        Shame on you

        • I can see both sides of the coin. I do feel its nice to have family who want to be involved and spend quality time with their grands but we cant equate that with it not being work….we as parents know how much WORK it is raising kids so to pretend its not work all of a sudden bc its grandparents, is disingenious and unfair. At the end of the day we cannot change how people feel and I for one don”t feel comfortable leaving my kids in the care of anyone who begrudges caring for them. Ultimately as the mom who chose to have my kids, its mine and my husbands responsibility to take care of them even if it does end up being 100% of the time…..sometimes it is what it is.

        • I see both sides of the coin. Its nice to have family who are involved and interested in helping care for their grands. But lets not pretend that it isn’t work. As parents we know just how much WORK it is raising kids. To diminish the fact that it is indeed work just because grandparents are involved is disingenious and unfair. At the end of the day we cannot change anyone and as a mom I take responsibility for the fact I decided to have my kids and its mine and my husbands job to take care for them even if that means 100% of the time….i wouldnt want anyone who begrudges it taking care of them anyway. Sometimes thats just the way it is….unfortunate though, I admit that.

      • I feel you, Carollynn. I loved being a father, and thought I did a pretty good job…but have little interest in killing myself trying to make a 3,000 mile long-distance relationship work. Sorry I’m not interested in Zoom calls with a one year old. You’ve done enough, in my view. I honestly feel like the kids need to conform to you…not the other way around. If they chose to move far away, design a life that leaves little time for you…so be it. Let them deal with it.

      • I totally agree. I have zero interest in being a grandma. One of my husband’s adult children has kids, but they live in another state so I’ve never met them. Our daughter doesn’t like children and has zero interest in having any, and that’s great news to me. I’ve done my time as a parent, and I’m not wasting whatever time I have left on this Earth wiping butts and noses. Kids just aren’t a good time to me. It’s my turn to travel and persue my own interests.

    • I am in the same boat as you all. I see warm hearted grand parents everywhere but not in our family. My own grandparents helped my family a lot when I was growing up and all of us grandkids have nothing but good things to say about my grandmother who passed away in 2012 before my daughter was born. Our daughter had one granddad who was there for her but he passed away in 2015. Now all 3 other grand parents are completely uninvolved. Her other grandfather might be somewhat involved but he lives far away. She had one grandparents she saw regularly but now she doesn’t seem to want to see us and barely talks on the phone. We weren’t allowed to see her when she went to the hospital. We are afraid she may pass away and our daughter won’t even get to say good bye. We have even tried to arrange for her uncle to take her over to see her but he hasn’t been able to get an audience with her either. She lives with my sister in law not far away and when they are in town all the time they don’t tell us. It’s very strange. Her other grandmother, my mother is very cold and likes to play mind games. When we fly into her city she doesn’t show up and she doesn’t want us to come to her house. This has gotten worse in recent years and makes us all uncomfortable. It really makes me appreciate my own grandmother and her late grandfather (my father in law) so much. I wish they were still here. We have never expected anyone to babysit for us. All we ask is for a grandparents with a heart. All I can say, is that if you have had any good people like that in you lives (even non relatives)put thier best pictures up and show them to you kids and tell them stories about how loving and awesome they were. At least make sure kids have them a good example to aspire to be someday. Show them exactly what the selfish people in their lives do not and be there for these kids for the right reasons and not just out of obligation.

    • Thank you for sharing this comment. I feel this way. My parents weren’t very involved as parents but I had an amazing grandma and aunts and uncles, all whom have passed.

      My dad is a deadbeat, my mom is very involved with dating. It’s been hard for my us to do this when there are people within an hour but they always expect us to drive to them to visit. Neither grandparent shows, the brother or sister to help. Months alone after our daughter was born. Not a meal or a hello or a visit. It’s very very hard not to resent your family – it’s the only part of my life that I feel this way about. It’s just hurtful for my Daughter. I want to adopt better grandparents and aunts and uncles.

    • 1st, I’m sorry so many parents are struggling with this. Your anguish is almost palpable. 2nd, it’s possible your parents have different perspectives, perhaps not wanting to intrude or offer unwanted advice.
      I’m a mother of 10 children, I was one of 8 children, and my husband was one of 11 children. None of us ever lived closer than 500 miles to any relative–not by preference, but we had to move to where the jobs were. In fact, I have to go back to the 1870’s to find anyone in my direct family tree who had any relative (brother, cousin, aunt) nearby. So this meant we all had to be our own “support system”. We all married good spouses who right away picked up the slack. If I was sick, my husband would take over. Our “date nights” were rocking a baby and a toddler to sleep and telling each other funny stories about the children’s antics. We read a lot for advice and relied a lot upon the good mothering we had received.
      Now I am a grandmother, and I find I can’t be as involved in my children’s lives as I might wish. 1st, I had my first grandchild when my youngest children were 7, 10, 12, 14, 16….and my new grandchild was over 1,000 miles away. I couldn’t leave my own children. Many of my children have married later in life, which means I’m now in my 70’s and not quite as spry watching a toddler as I used to be. I finally have one grandchild (soon to be two) living near me (30 minutes away) but I have limited vision now and can’t easily drive there.
      So…I offer to babysit the children in my home…but that’s not really convenient for mom and babies. I also host several family functions a month to bring the married and the single siblings together. Aunts and uncles help out a lot. I feel blessed in a way that all my married children do have in-laws nearby who can help.
      I think having expectations adds to the anguish. As one of the writers said in the end caring for one’s children, through tiredness, illness, financial strain, loneliness, uncertainty…it’s what we signed up for; it’s our mission. I think we parents have more strength than we know. If you have an involved relative or friend, what a blessing! If you don’t, you probably do have the inner resources to forge ahead. Most of all, enjoy those beautiful children and love them.

  2. I feel the same .. i am sooo disappointed…I have gone to counseling for help. I am praying for my parents.. My parents are baby boomers.. i am not sure if this has anything to do with their actions of lack of…Is this somehingthat they learnedas they were growing up because their parents would never act like this….any how…I hope and pray for the best for everyone.. I know Gods word says He will never leave nor forsake you…and He is with us always….I ama beleiver and i try and hold on to this hope…
    Blessings
    Bonita

    • My mother was never there for me as a child. My father passed and husbands parents are uninvolved. I would love nothing more than to cut them off completely, I have 4 children they do not care for them. But its easy to love those who love us, Jesus said forgive them father for they know not what they do. He said to pray for our enemies so we will be like him. Ohhhh it hurts !! But I will be like Jesus and cast my cares on him, for he loves me!

  3. The hardest part is watching so many kids surpass ours when you are doing the exact thing (practice etc). 9 times out of 10 the ones who excel have loving and involved grandparents. There is definitely a direct correlation between the two. There are good things to having just my husband and I to rely on. I notice a slightly tighter bond between us and our children compared to those with a lot of grandparent involvement. I still think having involved grandparents is the better end of the deal. My hope someday is our kids will say “mom, you are kind of annoying bc you are here too much”. This would be a success in my eyes. And then I will back down a little! Currently our friends who had so much help with their children when they were little are now taking care of these grandparents. This is something we won’t have to experience. There is a bright side to everything. Although I still would prefer to have it the other way. Children need food, water and love. That love includes grandparents love. So when you feel your kids are being deprived of a basic need, it strikes a cord in your heart for sure. Another aspect that is hard to watch is your friends having more children bc they have the help. While your heart wants more children but you don’t have the village to support it. It’s very difficult!

  4. Totally get this. It’s slightly different from one side to the other and for different reasons (my parents have a million grandkids and are getting old. They even have three great grandkids already which stretches them very thin whereas my hubby’s parents are MIA for no good reason). But either way we are left wanting for help with our 4 little ones. I agree it’s so much about just having those extra adults to love and dote on them and they don’t need to do anything specific. You just want them to be present and kind when they are. And it hurts for some reason that they can’t be. My sister taught me though, that my suffering comes from wanting things to be different and expecting them to behave differently than we know they will. Once I started expecting what I’ve seen in the past it got easier on me. And I was more able to notice all the kind villagers we really did have available to us. Good luck. This is tough.

  5. We have a similar situation, except the uninvolved grandparents are too busy doting on the cousins to make time for my children. It is heartbreaking, especially now that my kids are older and see it happening. My son is 2 and doesn’t know them at all.

  6. When your children have a severe disability, the rejection is even worse. Two months ago, my mother told me that she did not want to see us or to deal with us anymore. For me, she is dead….

    • I am so sorry. That’s awful and I cannot imagine a grandmother doing such a thing. The only consolation is that your child shouldn’t have such a toxic person in their life and neither should you…and now that’s not an issue. But I get the longing for something different (not the greatest relationship with my mom either).

  7. Interesting that the author used the baseball game as her example. My kids’ grandparents will travel far and wise to any and every game they play, yet never spend any actual time interacting with their grandkids. The support and fandom is great but I wish my kids could spend time talking with their grandparents, sharing stories, learning things from them and having experiences that actually create memories.

  8. I have wanted to write an article like this so much. We live 10 min from both sets of grandparents who are too involved in their social lives to care one iota about our kids. Whats most frustrating is that my parents usrd my grandparents ALL the time. They watched us for countless date nights and overnights. When I asked if my parents could watch our daughter for a 30th birthday dinner, my parents acted like I was selfish to want to have a small adult party when they hadnt even watched her for a year. I would have thought they would have been more involved considering they used my grandparents so much but not so. They like to post a lot of fb pictures of my kids, though. Every time we do see them they post a pic. I guess to make others think they are involved. Theh are baby boomets too. Im noy sure if its a generational thing though bc tons of my friends have to bat their parents away. I have been doing some research and I think my parents are just narcicists. They dont have relationships with my kids but they like to make others think they do. Its sad, really.

    • This is exactly our situation! They want it to seem to the world that they are involved but it’s actually only when we ask them to do something. Facebook is a curse for me because they get to see them growing up. Of course under every picture is “oh I just love my babies”! But my oldest is 12 and they have yet to voluntarily do anything with them! It’s my inlaws. My family is great however but it hurts my heart that his family is like this. His dad is their only grandpa. Also his side is the Christian side mine is not. I just don’t understand. We have even talked to them about it & nothing changes! It’s so sad because my kids know & understand everything that is going on.

    • Yes. My MIL is 80, and we have never ever asked (or would we be comfortable with, much less expect) her to babysit. What I don’t feel like I shouldn’t have to hear is “I went to lunch with so and so Saturday, near your house. I was going to stop by, but I figured the boys would be acting all crazy and I didn’t want to deal with them.” Well, they are 3 and 4 year old boys, so yes, they might be acting a little crazy. But no one wants you to “deal” with them., We want them to know you. But on Facebook they are “my beloved grandsons, I love them so much.” Sometimes I feel like she wanted grand kids because she was the only one of her friends who didn’t have them. Now that she does, they seem to serve as little Grandma trophies in her conversations. It breaks my (and my husband’s) heart.

  9. We for one set of grandparents, we love spending time with our grandchildren ,they are love of our life. and we try, to attend the activity’s they are active in. And it is hard to be there to support them when the parents don’t give you the planed schedule. When ask for the schedule, the answer will be, it’s not correct or will get a copy/ will let you know. If the grandparents goes to the coach and get the schedule, then grandparents is accused of crossing the boundaries. It is so sad when parents try to keep the grandchildren away from the grandparents, when they have always been there for the grandchildren.

  10. These were my parents – constantly irritated by my son, ignored him when he reached out to them, zero effort to engage with him. Once when they were traveling to visit us, I excitedly told my dad that my son was entered into a children’s fishing tournament. I suggested that he attend and was told, “I’m not much of a fisherman.” It’s not about the fish, Dad.
    My son is now 19 and dreads contact with my parents. I can’t blame him. Fortunately, his father’s parents are awesome.

  11. In regards to going to their activities, my in-laws typically one go to one of my children’s things (traditional sports), and not the other (non-traditional sport). There’s a very clear distinction with what they will go to, and it’s not one child’s events. Breaks my heart for one of my children….

  12. Oh, how I feel this post. My in-laws live exactly a mile away and have not initiated interaction with my precious children in over a year. In fact, the last time we called them to ask if we could stop by to visit, they said it was a “bad time”. Yet, they willfully to Seattle at the drop of a hat for months at time to care for my SIL’s children. They’ve cancelled family trips in order to rush to her aid and even backed out on their commitment to care for our infant because she needed help. It used to make me white hot with rage, but now it just makes me sad for my babies.

  13. My heart is hurting today because none of the three retired grandparents have made time to see my daughter in the past six weeks. She has learned to crawl, clap, wave, and feed herself during this time. She doesn’t know they are missing out but I do. I just finished crying in the shower.

  14. I had uninvolved grandparents and it was always obvious to me. I had one set of grandparents that were amazing while the others were nonexistent. They made an appearance on holidays and birthdays, possibly a few things in between. But it was clear at an early age that there was a difference.
    I honestly feel like my grandparents weren’t capable of love. I remember distinctly standing by my grandfathers bed as he lay dying……he told my dad that he was sorry. He apologized for not being better to his grandchildren. I will never forget that. But it was too late.

  15. I stumbled up on this whilst trying to understand my own mum and dad. Never have I ever found something that makes me think yes that’s how it is for me me. Until I read this. I have a four month old and a three year old. My parents live a two minute drive away. They never ever visit. They don’t invite us over yet they moan if a few weeks pass and they don’t see the kids. When we take the kids up dad stares at his ipad watching football. Mum will make conversation and hold the baby but that’s it. If I ever ask them to have the kids while we decorate they also make out they are top grandparents. They were an absolute nightmare when I was pregnant last year. They would of taken the hump if I had let anyone else have my daughter whilst in labour. Yet they made it so difficult by not 100% saying yes bring her here as soon as you go into labour. Instead mum was making other suggestions incase of this and that and when I suggested that they would rather someone else have her she made out I was being grumpy. She didn’t want to come to the hospital and bring my draughter despite the fact I had my own room. She made me feel guilty for having a baby at Christmas. Throughout my pregnancy she was going on about it not being the best time for us to do it. Recently my dad has moaned none of us go round. Yet in the week when I ask to go round mum wants to do her ironing etc. Or she will say we’ll I suppose you can come for a couple of hours (hint not to stay until teatime) I’ve suggested us going for tea twice a month so dad can see them after work. It won’t ever happen though. We have to pick up our own presents etc and always expected to hoover up if God for if the kids have a biscuit there. Sometimes I wish my mum could see how her just having my daughter once or twice a year from offering instead of me asking would help. My anxiety has been so bad lately as I feel so unsupported. Me and my partner never get to go out even twice a year. Never get to go to the cinema. If we do anything we rush because they don’t seem tat enthusiastic about helping. I could go on and on all day. Yet my mum acts on FB like her grandkids are her world (cringe) also very quick to pick fault in everything you do. My kids behaviour or the way My sons sat his his chair. She finds danger in everything. Always making out like she had everything perfect and no nonsense when we were little. Thank you for writing this and for helping me realise I’m not alone. I really wish I had a mum who I was close too x

    • This is like exactly my parents. They both work full time. Never initiate seeing my kids yet complain when they haven’t seen them for a week. Play with them etc when they see them. Never offer to help when fir example we were trying to build a new fence to secure our property…didn’t offer to take my 2 and 4 year old even tho my parents were off work. They seem happy with us visiting for a few hours but nothing more. Never suggest we come over or take the kids somewhere with them. I asked them to have them for a night so we could go to a wedding out of town and no response just real vague and can you not take them to the wedding.

    • I’m sobbing reading this. My grandmother had 6 kids + 10 grandkids. I was the youngest of the youngest and yet my 90 year old+ grandmother would have me stay overnight several times/year. She taught me the Lords Prayer and how to tell time. I cherished this. I have a 4 year old and 18 month old (one of 6 grandchildren) and my parents and inlaws are in their 70s. They have never ever even once babysat I mean not once for any of their grandchildren! (Not even when I gave birth). It’s beyond selfish – yet they moan and groan that they “never see the grandkids”. When they do visit they spend all of 2min talking to the grandkids and then us as parents have to spend the entire time keeping the kids occupied while making conversation.

      Yes I choose to have children and we’ll like many raise them without a village (babysitters cancel all the time), but don’t expect us to care for you in your old age when you havent give any thought to your children
      /grandchildren. Must have been nice to receive help and not pay it forward.

  16. My parents rarely call or visit and take very little interest in their 2 grandkids. It’s heartbreaking.
    They often don’t even call on holidays and birthdays. They are retired and wealthy with two homes. Their summer home is 3 hours from me. Yet they rarely visit and make it clear they just don’t have the patience for us to visit them.
    I have never had a great relationship with my parents. Still, I just don’t understand them because I love my kids so much. I am one of those smother mothers. I just can’t fathom how my mother’s heart can be so stingy. Any attempts to discuss this are met with anger and total martyrdom on the part of my parents.
    Invitations are usually declined. I invited my parents to visit over the holidays…anytime from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. I got a flatout no…maybe 2018. That was really painful as my parents had not spent the holidays w me since my kids were babies and one of my kids had a major surgery last yr. It was stressful and I told my parents I could use some love and support over the holidays. Still nope.
    I don’t need money or free babysitting. My husband and I are college educated, employed, own our home. I just want my parents to care but I have come to accept they probably never will.
    Like many on this thread, my kids are a favorite accessory for my folks. They like being able to join in with the grandparent gossip in their friends group. And of course, they love to display the photos and speak as though they are in close contact. It has left me dispirited. After a decade of this, I have given up on change.

  17. My MIL is the only grandparent my two children (ages thirteen and seven) have, yet she has barely been involved in their lives for the past seven years. She had a great relationship with my firstborn, but that all went downhill once my SIL and her husband moved next to her, bringing their then two – year – old. They now have a nine – year – old, seven – year – old, and almost five – year – old who enjoy weekly “Grammy days” with MIL. She also regularly babysits, has them for sleepovers, and goes to all of their extracurricular events. She would even drive right past our street on her way to take her other grandchildren on special outings. Despite living only two miles away, she saw our kids an average of three or four times a year. The last time she watched my children was in 2013, and only because I had to bring my husband (her only son) to the ER. She had the other grandchildren, of course, and made us feel as though it was a huge imposition on her. In fact, she called while my husband was having a CT scan for a suspected brain tumor and asked how long it would be because she was going to have a sleepover with the other grandchildren and mine being there was ruining her plans. My younger son and his middle cousin are the same age and were in the same class at school for two years. MIL would show up to take Cousin on special outings after school, all while never inviting my son and barely even saying goodbye to him (sometimes “forgetting” so say goodbye altogether). Mind you, my children aren’t perfect, but they are typically respectful and well – behaved. Even other family members on my husband’s side have commented that my kids are much better behaved than the cousins and that they don’t get why MIL rejects my boys. My youngest (arguably her least favorite) is a very quiet child who is afraid of upsetting people he doesn’t know well – including, unfortunately, his grandmother. The cousins, on the other hand, have a reputation for being bullies (others in the family and their neighborhood have confirmed this), and don’t show their grandmother very much respect (I’ve even seen the oldest try to hit his grandmother when he’s angry), yet they remain the favorites in her eyes. In two years, MIL has been to exactly one half of an inning of a baseball game for my younger son, and one hockey game that she only attended because her sisters were going and she presumably didn’t want to look bad. Whenever we ask her to attend others, she’ll either ignore us until after the game has passed and then pretend she never got the message, outright refuse to come, or say she’s coming but cancel at the last minute (or just not show up). My little guy was devastated when she said she would come to his first hockey game last year, only to cancel the day before in favor of going to his cousin’s soccer game. “I guess that means Cousin must have a game that day, too,” he said before breaking down in tears. We’ve tried talking to MIL about how this has hurt our children, but she always get defensive and goes back to her old ways.
    Anyway, what my husband and I have done is decide to not invite her to any more events – no extracurricular events, birthday parties, special trips, etc. We know she’s unlikely to show up anyway, so we see no reason to disappoint the children. If we happen to see her at a mutual event, such as dinner at their great – aunt’s house, they are expected to be polite and respectful, but that is it. Despite the hurt she has caused, we do not speak negatively about her. When she has come up in conversation in the past, I would simply tell my children that I was sorry they were hurt, that we have no idea why “Grammy” treats them the way she does, and assured them that it was not their fault. Above all, we made the decision to move 40 miles away. Putting some geographical distance between us has taken away some of the sting, as the favoritism isn’t constantly thrown in my children’s faces anymore. We have the added benefit of living near many of my husband’s other relatives, who are absolute angels and value their relationship with us. Surrounding my boys with people who do love and value them has taken away much of the hurt that their grandmother has caused. It’s gotten to the point that they don’t even mention her anymore. Will my MIL ever come around and show interest in having a relationship with my sons? I doubt it, but they’re doing just fine without her.

  18. What if you are the grandparents and go to every game and event and the grandchild doesn’t even acknowledge you? Same as her aunt and cousins! She doesn’t even say hi !!!!!!! She is 14ys old.

  19. I am a grandparent who needs advice. My son is divorced and remarried. Between my son and new wife of 9 years they have six children. Two children belong to my daughter in law and I LOVE them. One child belongs to both of them. Three of them belong to my son and his exwife. I babysit every time they ask and try to take the kids out but because the grandkids go back and forth between parents it is hard to get them all out at once. My son and daughter in law want things to be “fair” between all children so taking some children when they are available and not the others because they are are the other parents, rarely allows me to take the grandkids out. We have attended many programs and sports with our daughter in laws children but none with my sons children because how it makes my daughter in law feel. I have stopped going to all events to be fair to my sons children but feel guilty. I don’t know what to do. Moms: any suggestions?

    • This is so tough! I would think after 9 years your daughter in law would see how much you love all your grand babies and want to be in their lives! But I also see your love in the way you are respecting their wishes to keep things fair and equal. If it’s been a while since you had the discussion about it, I might suggest you talk with them again about the way it’s caused you to hold back and how you would like to be there for more events. It’s possible that what seemed best in the beginning has changed! But either way, I think finding a time to talk and approaching the conversation in love is usually a great start.

  20. We live very far away from both sets of grandparents and my kids might see a relative once a month. My brother lives in another state and my husband’s brother and his wife who do live closer are not really interested in our family. They are interested in her family and her family only.

    Also, both my mother and my husband’s mother are toxic people and my mother and I are on very limited contact and both sons have put the MIL on limited contact, too. My husband and I are also sometimes toxic.

    On top of that, they are avid supporters of the current administration and I am not a fan of the current administration. That has led to online squabbles and created even more rifts.

    I am the only one who ever goes to therapy and I don’t go as much as I should.

    I have stopped inviting people over to my house. They don’t come anyway.

    My husband says I drive everyone away because of my negativity. I believe that. I didn’t always used to be this way, though. Before I met my husband I was actually a very sweet positive kind person and had tons of friends. Now, I am wretched and lonely and often an angry person.

    I am often overwhelmed with mothering duties. It would be such a blessing for someone to take the three year old for a few hours a week. When I was little, my grandma came to get me all the time and she despised my mother.

    I have no time off ever. My husband doesn’t even take the kids to the park once a week so I can get some cleaning done. He really hates parenting our three year old girl and would rather play online games with our son.

    So, hey, at least you don’t have my life. At least when you wake up you can call a family member for help. The sun will rise for me and I will have a crap ton of cleaning up to do, starting with the dishes and the kitchen floor and the laundry and then after that I’ll have to make breakfast for two little kids who won’t eat it and who (when my back is turned) think it’s funny to make large messes. My son has ADHD and is six but has the mentality of a three year old.

    My husband doesn’t want to get him help because he doesn’t want him labeled.

    So, I guess here I am. Just another special needs mom.

  21. I never ever ever thought my parents would be like this toward their grandchild. They have TWO, my brother’s daughter who he only gets on the weekends, and my 3 year old daughter. The biggest problem is that grandma puts up a front that shes this amazing, loving, let you get away with anything, type grandmother, but then 3 days later Ill get a text that she “doesnt want to hurt my feelings” but she really doesnt want us to come over this weekend, my daughter is too much for her, too talkative, too needy, has too many expectations and is (well just say it mom!) ANNOYING!”

    That pisses me off because then to my child I look like the mean mom who is refusing to go to grandma’s this weekend. Finally I said to myself “this is bullshit. Im just going to tell my daughter the truth” and so I do. I say “well honey it looks like we arent going to grandmas anymore.” She says “what?! Why?!!” And I say “because she cant handle us I guess. She says that I dont watch you when were there and put all responsibility on her.” Which is true to some extent, but not by any fault of my own. It’s only because my child forgets I even exist in the presence of the “Allmighty All-wonderful Grandma” my daughter wants to be with my mom 24/7 when we are there because she does literally ANYTHING my kid asks! Who WOULDN’T want to be around someone like that? If she wants a 50/50 blend of skim milk with 2% and then 3 scoops of nesquick and 1 scoop of strawberry nesquick, she gets it. If she wants a $20 toy at the store every time she goes anywhere with grandma, she gets it. If she wants you to switch the upstairs mattress with the downstairs one because she wants to sleep in the room with the tv and have a pillowtop, she gets it. And it’s so ridiculous because if you don’t want my kid to be a needy little sh*t, then STOP being a pushover and set some boundaries for once!.

    And it’s because of this unauthentic special treatment my daughter gets, that she cries every time we have to leave grandma’s. And then my mom asks what’s wrong at home and is it because “mommy and daddy ignore you, or mistreat you?” And ask every toddler does, she responds “yeah.” And it’s just ridiculous that she doesnt understand its because she gets every demand met at grandmas and at home she gets boundries.

    They claim it’s their right to spoil as grandparents but heres the thing, then its not your right to b*tch about it later through a text!

  22. I could have written this blog! Thank you! I seem to be ok during the week, but the weekend comes and we have 5 kids activists and it feels we are the only ones with no grandparents around. It hurts. A lot! My kids are older now, 14 and 9, and they see it too.

  23. While heart-breaking, in reading this post and the comments, it’s somewhat comforting knowing I am not alone. I have three kids, two who are now grown and married and my daughter is a teenager. After college, I moved away from home (got marriage, job, etc.) and I personally believe my mom harbors passive-aggressive anger about it as a result. She wasn’t involved in my own life growing up, why did I expect her to be involved in my kids’ lives? Feeling guilty, maybe? I don’t know. Her own mom was a very controlling woman. I guess I was hopeful. I can count on 3 fingers how many times my mom made the effort to come visit me, my husband and kids over the span of 30 years. Yet, she has no trouble getting on a plane to visit family members from my stepdad’s side of the family. If I don’t call her, we don’t hear from her. She doesn’t take the initiative at all to reach out to her grandchildren. She expects them and me to do all the contact. Relationships are a two-way street. It’s heart-wrenching as my daughter is getting ready to graduate high school and I already know my mom and stepdad will not make the trip.

    • Sally, I shared the same experience only with my dad. When my children were growing up if I didn’t make the effort to drag them across country there was no interaction…not even phone calls. Even at Christmas and even after he retired. He was too busy with his social activities. Recently I had to have major surgery. No visit no calls. When he declined to go to my youngest sons wedding I decided I had had enough. Now he is 84 and has no friends and no place to go and as far as I am concerned he can stay that way. He chose his path. Me on the other hand I have an 18 month old granddaughter who lives 7 hours away and I have visited her more times than my dad saw my kids their entire lives. I have every intention of being engaged in my grandchildren’s lives and to support my children in their role as parents and show them what a real grandparent looks like. Unlike my dad I won’t have regrets.

    • Sally, I shared the same experience only with my dad. When my children were growing up if I didn’t make the effort to drag them across country there was no interaction…not even phone calls. Even at Christmas and even after he retired. He was too busy with his social activities. Recently I had to have major surgery. No visit no calls. When he declined to go to my youngest sons wedding I decided I had had enough. Now he is 84 and has no friends and no place to go and as far as I am concerned he can stay that way. He chose his path. Me on the other hand I have an 18 month old granddaughter who lives 7 hours away and I have visited her more times than my dad saw my kids their entire lives. I have every intention of being engaged in my grandchildren’s lives and to support my children in their role as parents and show them what a real grandparent looks like. Unlike my dad I won’t have regrets.

  24. My heartbroke for you reading this ans broke for mine since I experience the same thing. My son is 16 months, he has never been a good napper, better at night sleep. He is full of life and energy and no one can handle it. It’s so hard, my girlfriends spend days with their moms and inlaws, they go on date nights, they get to run to target or supermarket, and I have none of it. I know jealousy is a terrible trait but sometimes I can’t help it. My inlaws are never around and my parents carve out a few hours here and there. I knew that they would be like this but I just still have a hard time accepting especially when everyone around me has the total opposite. Thank you for letting me know i am not alone.

  25. After reading this, i dont feel so alone in this matter. My parents live 10 minuites away and have never been involved gradparents. My daughter is 14 now and my mom expects her to call her sometimes, but she doesnt understand that the reason my daughter doesnt phone her is because they don’t really have a relationship. Over the years i have invited them to many events that my daughter was in and they were all 10 minuites away from where they live but they always said no. I don’t understand. I feel so sorry for my daughter. The other day i invited my parents to my daughters graduation and all she said was that she will see. Its been three weeks and still no reply. I ended up telling my daughter that they may not be able to make it cause of work, as to not make her feel bad, but i could tell she was sad, and hurt. Over the years i have even asked for help during times ive really needed them. Once when i needed to get an mri done and was sick and my mom said to go and that she would be ok home alone for a few hours. (She was 11) i didnt want to leave her incase it took longer at the hospital or there was an emergency and she wouldnt be able to contact me. So i had a friend stay with her that day. The other time was when my daughter was 4 and hurt her chin which needed stiches. I called my parents to ask for a drive because i dont drive and they live up the street and they said no and told me to take a cab. The thing is my parents think that money equals love. They always send my daughter money and have offered to help me with money when i was a single mom..but never offered to spend time with my daughter. When i got married my spouse noticed it to, so it just confirmed what i felt over the years. My parents feel like money is love and not quality time. Now that my daughter is older, i can tell that shes starting to notice that grandma never sees her. She is such a sweet kid that she will never say anything, but i can see how sad she is everytime she is let down by another decline of my invitation to her events etc. My mom says shes tired cause of work, which i underatand but to only see your grandchild once a year is no excuse, seeing how she lives ten minuites away. I dont understand at all and after the last decline i will never ask again.

  26. Man, oh man. Reading through this thread makes me hurt for all of you. ? I’ll give you a background on my story.

    My parents divorced when I was a toddler. My father is estranged from me (his choice) and my mother was estranged from me until she became homeless and is now living with us. She developed severe social anxiety when I was a teenager but she won’t get past it to even leave her room to join us at Christmas or holidays. Not for birthdays nor to leave the house for recitals, family nights, games, or anything. So if you can imagine… we do everything for her financially and physically but she can’t even show up for the grandkids when she’s literally 15 ft away. Nevermind her doing anything else. ??‍♀️

    And then to just slightly unpack the in-laws. They live a little over an hour away but it might as well be another planet. His mother and father are sick with leukemia, fibromyalgia, tinnitus, high blood pressure, you name it! Now they used to try back in the day at least for maybe one holiday or the random 2 hr visit per year and if we got real real lucky, they might stay for a week. These days, however, we don’t expect them to show up for anything bc of the worsening illnesses (which is understandable) but they won’t even let us visit them or help them (not understandable). So we haven’t seen them in 2 years.

    Last summer, my husband was in a 5 car wreck and broke one arm and the other was burned but still showed up to his parents house. His mom? She wouldn’t open the door. Why? Because she’s quote: “having the absolute worst day of my life.” To add insult to injury, she did this 3 times in the course of that same month! 3. Freaking. Times. ALL with the exact same excuse. Now, I can’t imagine, under any circumstance, that I would turn away my grown son on my doorstep, whom I barely see to begin with, especially when he’s alone and injured like that. What would it cost you to let him come hold your hand while you lie in bed, especially if his life could have been extinguished? You’re going to be in pain regardless of what you do. So I find it inexcusable. Nevermind the litany of excuses for all the things they missed out for the kids over the years.

    Tonight, I’ve decided to adopt new grandparents for my kids. I’m SO sick of it. ?

  27. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for sharing your stories. I no longer feel alone with what I am going through. My parents live about 4hours from me. I have a 3 year old daughter that they see maybe 4 times a year. When she was born the decision was made to see each other monthly, alternating them coming to our house and us going to theirs. That lasted maybe a few months, because my nephew was born. From that point forward it is all about him. They take him overnight all the time. They will not watch my daughter for 2 hours for me to see friends when I’m in town without complaining that she is too whiny. There are times that I have returned from running to the grocery store for them to find they have taken him upstairs to nap with them and have left my daughter to play unattended. If they call me, they dont ask how she is. If I call them, they talk about him without asking about her. My husband and I actually time them to see how long it takes before they start talking about my nephew and the average is 36 seconds right now. I have stopped calling. Stopped texting. I dont know how to address the situation because they have never believed they were wrong on anything. They treated me the same growing up and I did address that with them, while growing up and as an adult. They truly believe they are doing nothing wrong. My MIL has noticed it and has said they need to spend more time with her. They brushed her off also. Thoughts from anyone???

  28. It was comforting to read through the replies to this article. Plenty of websites about grandparents trying to find ways to be more involved, not many about them avoiding the grandkids.
    I’m not sure why I thought my parents would be those involved excited grandparents that seemingly everyone else has. My grandparents did pretty much nothing with us, they forgot our names most of the time. I remember my Mom spending all day cleaning the house knowing her parents were coming to town, only to have them not stop by for a visit at all. They only came to town to visit an auction house, then drive the 10 hours back home. That hurt her a lot, I could tell as a kid. It didn’t bother me though because I had no relationship with them. My parents were without family support of their own, 3 kids, no help. Plus my Dad was a drunk, my Mom was emotionally distant and depressed, it was a bad childhood.

    They hounded my husband and I for years to have a grandchild, and now that she is here they are extremely minimal just like their parents were. They prefer pictures to visits, their friends and hobbies to family. It breaks my heart, especially when I know they put more effort into their step grandchildren. The one incident that stung the most, for me, was learning my mother and her husband made the trip down to visit his granddaughter (same age) in the same city that I live in, to spend 3 days babysitting her so they could go away for the weekend. They were here for a whole week, and they spent 1 hour with us. Her blood granddaughter gets one hour, her step granddaughter gets days. They can’t even argue it’s about distance.
    My father is the same with his wife, they have taken her grandchild a few days a week for a good year now. I hear about the times he spends the night, so the parents can go on a date. It makes me cry, and as you can imagine it makes me feel less-than and abandoned.

    So it’s just my husband, myself, and our child. We try to find strength in each other, find creative ways to still feel like people sometimes. What comforts me, the most, is knowing I am going to break this cycle in my own family. I am going to focus and be there for 100% my family. I pray that the families my parents have chosen will be there for them in the end times when they need the help, because I will be taking a cue from them and expecting them to do it on their own, because hey they’re adults. They chose what they chose.

    I am going to choose to grieve this non existent grandparenting scenario I created in my mind, accept that I don’t have that life and never will, and find happiness in being the light in my daughters life that I had always wished I had in mine.

    To everyone else going through this as well, you are definitely not alone. Give it 10 years, it’s going to be a topic with a lot more focus. The boomer generation was horribly selfish, and a lot of them raised equally if not more selfish children… the chickens are gonna come home to roost

  29. I know this article is now 2 years old, but I’m thankful the comments are still being added to, as we all seek out some solace in dealing with uninvolved grandparents. My situation is not much different.

    Both of my grandmothers were involved in helping to raise me… I stay with one after school every day until my parents got off work. The other kept me quite often so my mom could go out (my parents were divorced when I was 5). So I am completely dumbfounded at the fact my MIL who lives 20min away has absolutely no desire to spend time with my 5yo (her first grandchild…she’s also not involved in the other’s life who isn’t quiet 1 and lives 30min away). She just spends her days alone at home (her husband is working out of the country). We both work full time and we do take our son on trips, but we just so badly need some childless time. We feel it, and it’s a strain on our marriage because we are both just “empty” after working all day and then taking care of our son at night. When we ask my MIL to keep our son for a night to give us a break, she completely dodges the question and gives a vague “well we’ll see” and then changes the subject so you can’t pin her down on a date. When she has given us a date, she usually backs out the night before. It just makes me so angry that she can’t sacrifice a little time/energy so we can have a break. I mean worst case, she could just sleep it off for a week to recoup…ha. Yep, she had no trouble accepting help raising her 3 boys…but now with our 1, she is useless.

  30. We rarely see our Grandchildren. They are 6 yr. old twins. Our daughter has raised these kids to be spoiled brats. All they do is scream and cry and throw tantrums over nothing. She didn’t know what she was doing right from the beginning and flat out refused any sort of advice. Her husband is basically out of the picture because of having to listen to her daily histrionics. Our daughter and her siblings never acted like this as children. It’s completely unpleasant to be around these kids as they are almost feral in their behavior. We have been informed that our opinions on child rearing are not welcome. Family gatherings are usually a nightmare due to these kids and their Mother. We sought counselling and learned that we matter too. Our happiness matters too, not just our our daughter’s and her kids.The kids mostly ignore us and all our daughter does is scream and yell and swear at them, and her husband just sits there with a blank expression on his face, (probably waiting to die.) That’s why we don’t see our grandchildren much. Maybe it’s you. Did you ever consider that possibility?

    • Interesting, what happened to your daughter that she changed from an angel at childhood to a seemingly terrible person in adulthood? Are you saying you raised a totally perfect, wonderful child all the way up until she left your home and then you were suddenly blindsided? Did you not raise her better? One would stand to reason that if you did a good job raising her, set a wonderful example, that she would naturally want to raise her children in the same way.

      People such as yourself, who take absolutely no responsibility in the raising of their children and who they turned out to be as adults, just blow my mind. I believe you are called “Tulip Parents”. You just planted the bulb, watered and fed, and assumed it would just all turn out all right. You think you did an awesome job, and then are horrified when you see the result. There are a lot of them like you. They whine about how awful their kids were, how they have no idea what happened, just out of the blue they are awful now. Frankenstein taking no responisibility for the monster that he creates..! Just sits back and joins the people in blaming the abomination. How wonderful.

      This is the daughter you raised. You created her, taught her, raised her up. This is your creation. Your counsellor is getting paid well, in helping you to absolve your responsibility in this. I hope you feel good, patting yourself on your back, while your grandchildren continue on what you created. You raised a screaming, angry, difficult child, and now you have screaming, angry, difficult grandchildren. Bravo. Its you.

  31. So reassuring to know that I’m not alone. I lost both parents before I became one. The hardest
    thing to bear was that my mum who was sooooo good with little ones (She worked with under fives for many years and adored her job) wasn’t here to see her grandchildren and it was so painful without her and extremely hard at times with very little support to rely on. Sadly I inherited a MIL that wasn’t at all maternal, the opposite to my own experience and over the years I felt so resentful about my situation. My husband’s parents would very occasionally have my children, once in a while, but never once was it initiated by them, and it always felt as if it was an asked not a pleasure. They are not adventurous people and seemed to lack any imagination, you knew that a day there would mostly be a film day because they couldn’t think what else to do. It was always tinged with disappointment & sadness and it always felt uptight and controlled, that you would have to somehow try and fit in around them, though they are retired and lucky enough to do so young.
    It has felt an uneasy relationship, and even as the children got older, they didn’t really want to attend their birthday parties, they now go away mostly when it’s my youngest birthday. They’ve missed school productions where other grandparents are in the front row. There have been times I’ve felt so heartbroken, yet because they are not my parents – it is impossible to have any honest conversation for fear of it ending disastrously. So I’ve had to learn resilience, learn acceptance. To allow myself to feel that pain of what isn’t and accept that my MIL for who she is.

  32. This is a very interesting topic. I am a Child minder, 63 years of age, ( don’t feel it btw!) I love my job, but nowadays work with School age Children, which I find more enjoyable. My daughter and I had a slight fall out at first when I mentioned that her and her husband would be better to look for a Child minder when she returned to work. I do look after their son, ( my grandson once a week on a Thursday and on wee extra days, but I’ll be the first to admit, it’s hard work and it’s harder going back to doing something that you haven’t done in a while, ie looking after a young baby. I personally think that you shouldn’t feel guilty for having these feelings. If it becomes a problem then it needs to be discussed with those family members concerned. I know that I will probably have discuss things again myself as I feel I will be leaned on even more when my daughter and family move house soon nearer us. Im braising myself for more drama, but sometimes that’s just the way it has to be.

    • Linda, i think your situation is very different than most of us commemting here. I havent seen anyone expecting grandparents become full time care givers to their grandkids…moreso along the lines of just wishing grandparents wanted to spend anytime at all with their grands. Your daughter is pretty entitled to assume you would take care of your grandson full time.

  33. It saddens me that my mother chooses to disregard my children (who are now adults and have children of their own) my grand children do not even know their great grandmother. She does not acknowledge Birthdays, Christmas or any other significant events. Yet she dotes over my two sisters daughters. I struggle with this and have been for years, she is in her 80’s now I feel sorry for her, yet am deeply saddened and at times frustrated with it all. I on the other hand choose to be the grandma that loves all her children and grand children, I send Birthday Cards, (when I remember) and purchase and deliver in person birthday gifts. Christmas, everyone is invited, my children and their children (I no longer go to Christmas at my moms, as she won’t allow my children.) Yet my Sisters Daughters are welcome, time will tell if she allows their children (which would be her great grandchildren) to come to her house for the Holidays. I work full time and sometimes miss the actual day for Birthdays, but the effort is there, I do not want my children or my grandchildren to feel abandon by me ever, as it is unbearable the way my mother has isolated herself from us. Pushing forward creating a positive environment for my children and theirs.

  34. My heart goes out to each and everyone of you. Seeing I have a similar story as most of you. I have just come to the realization that my In-Laws are those uninvolved grandparents. I happen to have my MIL living with us. My father-in-law remarried and is too social. It does have a lot to do with expectations and what I am willing to tolerate. As I see it if they do not want to be involved then let them be. My children have been let down many times by them with broken promises to the I’m just too busy excuse. No one is too busy. I have always tried to involve them as much as I can but I’m at the point where we are all adults and we all are aware of the issue, so the best thing for my family it to continue life as we know it. It is a shame that I have such amazing parents that they have bent over backwards for my children. They have to be willing to change and if they choose not too then care on with your head high and learn from this tragedy. I pray many nights hoping I will learn from this and if God willing to bless me with grandchildren that I may spoil them with love.

    • I love my grandsons but I do not want to spend time with them. I will go to games, plays or concerts but to take them and do things with them for me is very stressful. They are out of control and quite frankly they are disrespectful brats. My daughter thinks it is ok to let them be disrespectful while my son on law screams at them all the time. The grandsons fight hit and kick each other it is just too much for me.

  35. My husband, myself and our kids have lived out of state for several years. We don’t live more than 7 hours away from my parents. My parents are only 60 years old, in good health and never call or visit. I feel ghosted by them. Well we all do. I mention it to my mom and she always says I love you like a thousand times, but whenever I invite her to attend one of our kids sport games, holiday, kids’ baptism, blessing, birth of our child, it is always, well right now is not a good time for me to visit. WHAT??!! She talks in circles and never has any good reason for not visiting . It sucks because my sibling who live within an hour of her get so much love and attention. I totally feel forgotten. I have even told her we moved years ago because of financial reasons. We didn’t want to depend government assistance or be in a ton of debt. How to cope with grandparents who don’t care, Advice please

  36. I feel this!! not with my own parents but with my husbands. Should I even say something? I know that once’s I do, I will be opening world of drama and I don’t want that for my children. I just can’t keep my shout any longer. What should or can I even do.

  37. I relate so much to all of you. I am currently pregnant with my second child and am struggling with the fact that my parents are totally uninvolved. They have never met my 6 year-old son nor have they ever spoken to him on the phone. My father doesn’t communicate with me at all. My mother refuses to use email or social media. She’ll send a hallmark card now and then to my son with a bunch of stupid questions: “isn’t this picture cute?” “do you like Easter?” It’s so great for a kid to be on the receiving end of that. She has no sense of who my son is, and now I guess she’s going to do it again with my second kid. I have broken off contact with them in the past because they were like this with me, but I guess I was hopeful that a grandchild would change things. It hasn’t, and I am hurt over and over again by it. I’m constantly thinking about ending the relationship.

    I think what I struggle with the most is how different the lives of my peers are who have supportive parents. It’s really painful for me to hear about grandparents providing childcare or financial assistance while my husband and I struggle so much to do everything ourselves. It’s helpful to know I’m not alone with this, but I wish things could be better for all of us. I guess the only thing we can do is commit to being involved grandparents ourselves, when the time comes.

  38. I have felt the disinterested grand parents issue from both my father and mother. Though it does make me feel better that i’m not alone, I can truly appreciate all of your comments. I realize now that my parents weren’t even interested in me when I was a child. I see now that maybe I blamed myself. I may have thought that I didn’t make them proud enough, or wasn’t worthy. Now I see that they have never been interested parents, so how could they be interested grandparents? I am lucky to have had interested grandparents myself. Sometimes generational differences occur that make parents more selfish. Not in anyway our fault.

  39. I thought I was alone in this matter. I have a mother in law who lives with us and doesn’t interact with my kids unless her own son (my husband) is present. Even then it is maybe once or twice a month for about 5 minutes until she makes one of my kids cry. She doesn’t leave her room unless it’s to go out to buy food or go to the bathroom. It’s really sad. All day long you can hear her phone conversations with her friends laughing away. If she’s not on the phone with her friends, she’s going to their houses to play or babysit their grandkids or fur babies. She makes it a point to post it on Facebook for us to see. She’s always making excuses as to why she has to leave during the kids birthday parties but gets upset if she’s not invited to the party. She’s the biggest hypocrite I’ve ever come across. I used to care about her not being involved with my kids but now I’d rather have be like that than pretend to be a loving/doting grandma. It makes me sick to hear the fake voice and fake laugh. You know it’s fake because the kids aren’t laughing. She wants her son to think she’s having a great time. Behind closed doors, all I hear are cries and that is why the kids are not allowed in her room. Crazy right!

  40. Wow…an amazing history of comments, complaints and counsel in this thread. The conclusion I draw is that miserable people generally are miserable parents who very frequently produce miserable offspring. Exceptions? of course there are, but it certainly seems obvious to this disinterested observer that some children turn out good or bad regardless of parents; not exactly randomness, but still a chain of significantly unpredictable results to finding personal pleasure in parenting. As for me, man, am I ever glad I’m childless.

  41. My parents are such disappointments as grandparents. It hurts that they are so uninvolved. I don’t need a babysitter; I need them to show up for a few things and maybe take my kids (teens and preteens now) for ice cream every now and again. It doesn’t have to be a huge commitment. They have time and energy for so much else. I stopped asking because every excuse is like a dagger in my heart. I’m really struggling with this but refuse to beg them to show support for my children. They are retired, healthy and active so there is no excuse other than we are not important enough. It kills me inside.

  42. I relate to this. We have a hard time with my parents and an even harder time with my inlaws in trying to get them to see their grandkids. My inlaws live 15 min away and have never invited the kids to go anywhere or to come over. It makes me sad because it would only take an hour of time for them to take the kids to get a donut or ice cream and bring them back. I could even give them money for this. I always spent the night at my grandparents house as a kid. None of the grandparents have ever invited my kids over for a sleepover. They do not offer to ever babysit the kids, so my husband and I feel guilty to ask them unless it is an emergency and we have no other options. I don’t get it? I think it’s because people either love kids or feel bothered by them. I love kids and plan to quit my job to babysit my grandkids when I get older. I can’t relate to not adoring kids. I also think it is a lack of communication. I assume the grandparents want us to make specific plans? But I don’t want to bother them if I’m not sure if they want to see the grandkids or not? It seems like they would be calling us if they were interested. But I almost never hear from my mother-in-law. She only calls me two or three times a year. I have to call her every week and she never mentions wanting to see the grandkids or discusses any plans. When I was younger, my grandparents invited us for dinner. But that does not happen either. Now my oldest babysits for us, so I don’t have to feel uncomfortable about asking the grandparents to babysit anymore. Sadly this experience has taught me all I need to know to be a wonderful, involved grandparent when I have kids.

  43. Preach! Many of us are grieving the what-might-have-been caring and engaged grandparents, myself included. My kids will never know such a special relationship and it makes me sad on a weekly basis. Selfishness and upside down values of the boomer generation are certainly a contributing factor to my own in-laws’ lack of interest in my children despite my frequent effort to spoon feed them easy, quality bonding time with my kids (their only grandkids). Dating, cable News, social calendars, overeating, over drinking, smoking, knitting group, exercise classes…. The long list of things they’d rather be doing than engaging in any with their grandchildren… is endless. What is easy to admit, that brings me the most comfort is my own hope that I’ll live long enough to be a better grandparent to my own grand kids. What is harder to admit is my own longing for justice in the form of schadenfreude, in the unlikely fantasy that if these motherfuckers live longer, and hopefully keep their wits about them to understand and regret and be angry with themselves about their shallow life choices. I imagine bringing the kids when they’re older to the nursing home for a visit, or better yet, also holding my first grandchild in my arms (you know, to model some better choices). It would be a quick but painful visit in which I would need to leave sooner than they’d like (hopefully bringing to their attention their own self-inflicted loneliness). The kids and I would make the visit SO fun at first, talk about whatever they like (boy do they love themselves), giving them so much full engagement and attention, and stroke the mighty ego the way they like best, then just as we are cracking up about something and I see real joy in their eyes, I might say “oh would you look at the time! I do wish we could stay, but you know how we all make choices for how to spend our time. You certainly made your choices! And here you are! (Look around with pity face) Oh how I wanted you to build a better relationship with your grand kids when they were younger. Everybody knows how tirelessly I tried to make you interested in these kids, but man what a futile effort! I just kept going back to that dry ass well, hoping for an ounce or hell! a drop! of love or interest in your grand kids…. You were so just so, so “busy” (air quotes) and so much more interested in your hobbies, and your, well, you know, yourself, really. Anything and everything but your grandkids was more important to you! Gosh (laughing) you just couldn’t be bothered! Do you remember saying you didn’t want to be a babysitter! Oh man you missed out, these kids, well adults now, are so amazing. I wish you could have seen them. Just such a joy to watch them grow up. You would have loved the weddings and graduations and all that but it was really the boring regular day to day stuff that was the best. (Righteous laughter, then a resigned sigh). You certainly had a window of opportunity then, to have a relationship, but let’s be real. That’s long past now. Oh and I would have loved to have invited you to have lived in our lovely home (you know we all still eat dinner together every night and have so much fun together!)… instead of this (look around with disgust at whatever hell hole they’re now living in). But you are such an (air quote “independent person!” I know you just love your “me me me time”! I’m so glad you will have so much of THAT here, what you’ve always loved. Your true love! That reminds me, it’s too bad your romantic relationships never worked out. You spent so much time on those! Sheesh. Okay, well we better be going (giving a too-firm and resentful pat pat on the head, maybe a hard slap or flick to the front of the face pretending there was a mosquito.) oh dear this place has so many bugs! You may want to pick up some spray if they take you on any field trips to the grocery store! And maybe some scented spray because boy does this place have that (urine) smell! Sorry to be so long winded but you never know this could be our last time seeing you, none of us ever know when the good Lord will call us home! Knowing you and how much time you spent without the stress of children it will hopefully be a long time! You can make lots of friends here (point to the person sitting and drooling) I know you’ve always loved all your social time! Okay well good luck stranger! (Another pat pat on the head)

    Cue the cats and the cradle playing as we leave).

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