Do Your Grandchildren Ignore You? 11 Reasons They May Not Want To Spend Time With You

If you focus too much on the relationships between grandchildren and grandparents depicted on television and in the movies, you might wonder what grandchild doesn’t like grandma and grandpa?

Kids on TV tend to run excitedly into their grandparents’ arms, eager to give plenty of hugs and kisses.

The grandparents return the sentiment, exclaiming how happy they are to see the children.

As it turns out, this isn’t always real life.

Grandchildren who ignore their grandparents are much more common than you might think. 

Why Do My Grandchildren Ignore Me? 11 Possible Reasons 

While it can hurt your feelings to have grandchildren who don’t want to spend time with you, it’s essential to know that it doesn’t necessarily mean you did anything wrong.

There are plenty of reasons you don’t feel the special bond you desire. 

granddad trying to please granddaughter why do my grandchildren ignore me

Here are some of the more common ones: 

1. Their parents’ influence.

Whether intentional or not, their parents may say or do things that lead your grandkids to believe you aren’t as likable or respectable as you are.

Do your adult kids complain about things that happened while growing up or mention your parenting shortcomings? If so, your grandkids will pick up on this. 

It might be a good idea to plan for a calm, rational conversation with their parents when your grandkids aren’t around. Clear the air and ask that they not say negative things about you around the children. 

2. They don’t relate to you.

Besides the obvious age difference between you and your grandkids, there are plenty of other reasons they may not feel on the same page as you.

Maybe your disciplinary style is different from their parents, or you aren’t able to play with them the way they would like.

Find things you have in common or can bond over to remedy this. Even the smallest of similar interests can go a long way.

3. They aren’t around you often enough.

It can be hard to feel close to someone you don’t get to see very often, even loving grandparents. Maybe you live far apart, or other things like health or busy schedules keep you from seeing them as often as you’d like. 

Try visiting with them more often. And since it’s not always easy to see them longer or more often, try calling, texting, or video chatting with them regularly to see how things are going. 

4. They sense you don’t like them.

Let’s face it: sometimes, the things kids say and do are hard to understand and accept.

If they’ve heard you talk poorly about their behaviors, their interests, or even their friends, they may feel like you don’t like who they are, even if you do show them love.

Try to be mindful about the language you use around them. Disciplining them is one thing, but talking about them negatively can affect their opinions on themselves – and of you. 

5. There are underlying issues.

Everyone reacts to life situations differently, including and especially kids. Maybe their parents recently divorced or they’re having problems at school or with friends. Or perhaps there are emotional or behavioral issues that the parents need to address with the family doctor.

Try just being there for them. Offer advice when they want it. Otherwise, simply listen to them or be a shoulder to lean on when they need it. 

6. They’re, well, kids!

While it’s not necessarily a good excuse, it is possible that they simply have a lot going on in their life. Things like school, work, activities, and friends are important. But know that it doesn’t always mean they don’t care about you.

grandparent and kid playing chess why do my grandchildren ignore me

Try making the most of the time you do have together. Ask them questions, pay attention to their answers, and let them know you love them. 

7. They’re frightened.

Unfamiliar environments can be scary for kids, especially the younger ones. Throw in the teeth on the bathroom sink, the scent of your beloved (and necessary!) pain cream, and the piles of medications on the kitchen counter, and it can be downright uncomfortable.

Clearly, you can’t change all of that. But you can think about making your home and environment feel safer and more inviting to your grandchildren. 


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8. You have too many rules.

Rules are a necessary part of life, especially for kids. It’s how they grow up to be responsible, respectful, successful individuals. But there is such a thing as too many rules.

You shouldn’t let them get away with everything but think about relaxing your standards. Try to find a balance between making them behave as you wish and letting them be themselves – the carefree kids they want and need to be.

9. You guilt-trip them.

This can be hard to admit, but if the majority of the time you spend together is full of comments about how they never call or visit, they may avoid you even more. 

Instead of focusing on the times you don’t spend with them, try finding the positives in the time you do. Thank them when they call or visit. Or let them know you appreciate their birthday cards. 

10. Your time together is stressful.

This one can also be hard to face. What is the quality of the time you do have together? Do you tend to voice your concerns about your health or finances? Are you visibly stressed? Do you complain a lot?

These are natural behaviors, of course. But it may be helpful to avoid such tendencies around your grandkids. It’s okay to tell them what’s going on with you, but leave it at that without stressing them out or causing them to worry. 

11. The onus is on them.

If they feel like they always have to be the one to call or stop by, they may avoid doing so. After all, relationships go both ways. 

kid mad don't want to play why do my grandchildren ignore me

Try to initiate spending time together and leave it more open-ended. Let them know you want to see and talk to them. Make it clear that you understand how busy they are and that you’re willing to do it on their schedule. 

How Often Should Grandparents Expect to See Their Grandchildren?

Unfortunately, there aren’t any set rules around how often you should expect to see your grandchildren. But instead of wondering and worrying about how to cope with not seeing your grandchildren, consider the following and make the most of the time you do spend together. 

  • Age. This goes for both you and the kids. They can be hard to keep up with when they’re very young. As they get older, they have other things going on in their life. 
  • Location. The distance between you can play a large role. If you live nearby, you can expect to see them more often, while living further apart hinders that. 
  • Schedules. Put simply – life is busy. Work, school, friends, and activities are just a few things that crowd the calendar and affect how much time you spend together. 
  • Health. If you’re in good health with little concern for traveling, you’re likely less affected than if you have health problems that keep you less active. 

Things a Grandparent Should Not Do with Their Grandchildren 

You want your time with your grandkids to be fun and special, and memorable. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to hold an anything-goes kind of mentality. Here are a few guidelines on things you shouldn’t do with your grandchildren. 

  • Speak poorly of their parents. Your grandkids’ parents are their first line of defense, and they likely hold loyalty to their parents. Badmouthing their parents is never okay.
  • Break their parents’ rules. Grandparents tend to spoil their grandkids by nature. But there’s a difference between sneaking them an extra cookie and blatantly allowing them to do things their parents don’t approve of. 
  • Guilt them into spending time with you. You want to see them more. That’s fair. But guilting them into it will backfire and lead to seeing even less of them. 
  • Fish for information. It’s natural to be curious about what goes on in your grandchildren’s home, but asking questions about their parents’ relationships, habits, or finances is inappropriate. 
  • Engage in age-inappropriate activities. Keep the things you do and talk about appropriate for your grandkids’ ages. 
  • Teach them bad habits. Make your time together fun, but do so without setting an example that you know would upset their parents. 

What Do You Do When Your Grandchildren Are Disrespectful? 

Nobody wants a grandchild who is rude to grandparents. If you find yourself in a situation where your grandchildren are disrespectful, it’s best to take care of it sooner rather than later.

Use these tips to address this problem.

  • Discuss it with their parents. Talk with your son or daughter and their partner about handling poor behaviors and attitudes. 
  • Lay out your expectations. Explain to your grandkids how you expect them to behave and treat you. 
  • Ignore attention-seeking behaviors. Instead of acknowledging it when they act out, simply ignore it. 
  • Discipline them. Let them know their disrespectfulness is not okay, and they will be punished for it. Then stick to those punishments.
  • Stay calm. It’s easy to raise your voice in stressful situations, but it’s best to keep your cool to avoid further escalating their behavior. 
  • Maintain consistency. Punishing them for a behavior one time and letting it go another sends mixed signals. 

Ways to get Your Grandchild to Like You 

You can’t force a relationship. But if you find yourself saying my granddaughter ignores me or my grandson doesn’t want to spend time with me, there are a few things you can do to win them over and get them to like you.

  • Find something to bond over. Look for common interests and then use those things to gain a closer relationship with them. 
  • Have more frequent contact. If possible, see them more often, so they get to know you better and vice versa. 
  • Do more things they enjoy. Find out what interests them and learn more about it, even if it’s not something you would typically care about. 
  • Share your wisdom. You’ve learned a lot in your day, so why not pass some of that knowledge on to the grandkids? 
  • Avoid criticism and judgment. Kids have it hard enough without constantly being reminded of where they fall short and all they’ve done wrong.
  • Build them up. Praise them for their accomplishments, help them build their self-esteem, and teach them helpful habits. 
  • Show them they can trust you. Even small things like keeping silly secrets and following through on your promises go a long way in building your bond. 

Contrary to popular belief, there’s no ideal grandparent-grandchild relationship. What works for one family may be the opposite of what’s right for yours. You simply can’t force something.

The key is to create the kind of close, loving relationship you both want without undue pressure.

It's common for some grandchildren to not pay attention to their grandparents. Find out the possible reasons why your grandchildren ignore you in this post.

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