While the reasons for the emotional distance between grandparents and grandchildren can vary, the feeling of being ignored or sidelined by your own grandchildren can be incredibly painful. 

Understanding why this happens is the first step toward resolving the issue and rebuilding a meaningful relationship. It’s crucial to remember that grandchildren ignoring their grandparents is often a complex issue with multiple contributing factors. These can range from the natural quest for independence during adolescence to the influence of peers and even the role of technology in modern life.

In this article, we’ll cover the various reasons why grandchildren might seem distant and offer practical advice for coping with this emotional challenge. We’ll also provide tips on how to rebuild the bond with your grandchildren, ensuring that the golden years of grandparenting are as fulfilling as they should be.

Reasons why grandchildren might ignore their grandparents

Adolescent independence

One of the most common reasons grandchildren might seem distant is their quest for independence, especially during the adolescent years. This is a time when young people are exploring their identity and seeking autonomy, as explained in Jere Cohen’s research paper titled “Adolescent Independence and Adolescent Change.” 

As adolescents navigate this complex phase, family ties, unfortunately, may take a backseat. It’s not that your grandchild suddenly doesn’t like grandma anymore; it’s more about them carving out their own space. Understanding this can help you approach the situation with empathy rather than taking it personally.

Peer influence

The role of friends and social circles becomes increasingly important as children grow into adolescents. Peer approval often takes precedence over family interactions, leading to scenarios where you might feel like your grandchild doesn’t like you. However, it’s essential to understand that this shift is a normal part of social development. Adolescents are forming their social identities, and while it may seem like they’re ignoring you, they’re often just absorbed in their new social lives.

Digital distractions

In today’s digital age, technology can be both a blessing and a curse. Smartphones, social media, and video games often consume a significant portion of a young person’s day, reducing the time and attention they have for real-world interactions. This digital distraction can exacerbate the feeling that your grandchildren are ignoring you. It’s crucial to recognize the role technology plays in modern life and find ways to engage with your grandchildren that include their digital world.

Family dynamics

Family issues like parental divorce or conflicts can also play a significant role in the grandparent-grandchild relationship. Emotional turmoil within the family can lead to reduced contact and strained relationships, making it seem like your grandchildren are distancing themselves intentionally. In such cases, it’s important to maintain open communication with your adult children to understand the family dynamics that may be affecting your relationship with your grandchildren.

Coping strategies for grandparents

Open communication

The cornerstone of any healthy relationship is open and honest communication. If you’re grappling with the painful thought that your grandchild doesn’t like grandma, it’s crucial to initiate a dialogue. This doesn’t mean confronting them aggressively but rather creating a safe space where both parties can express their feelings. 

Open-ended questions can be particularly effective, allowing your grandchild to share their thoughts without feeling cornered. Additionally, consider involving the parents in these conversations. They can offer invaluable insights into any behavioral changes you’ve noticed and may even facilitate a family discussion to clear the air.

Quality time

The adage “quality over quantity” holds true when it comes to rebuilding relationships. If you’re dealing with strained relations with your grandchild, focus on making the most of the time you do spend together. This could mean planning special outings, engaging in activities that you both enjoy, or simply sitting down for a heartfelt conversation. 

The aim is to create a rich tapestry of positive experiences that can serve as the foundation for a renewed relationship. Remember, it’s not about how much time you spend together, but the quality of that time that truly counts.

Adapting to their world

In today’s fast-paced digital world, staying relevant can be a challenge. However, making an effort to understand your grandchild’s interests can go a long way in bridging the generational gap. This could mean anything from learning the basics of social media to understanding the video games they enjoy. 

By showing a willingness to adapt to their world, you’re sending a powerful message: that you value the relationship enough to step out of your comfort zone. This can be particularly impactful if you’ve felt distanced due to technological barriers.

Seeking professional help

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the emotional chasm may seem too wide to bridge on your own. In such cases, professional intervention can be invaluable. Therapists and counselors are trained to deal with family dynamics and can offer strategies tailored to your specific situation. 

They can also provide a neutral ground where both parties can express their feelings openly. If the issue is particularly complex, involving multiple family members in counseling sessions can be beneficial. A professional can help navigate the emotional intricacies and offer constructive solutions, providing you with the tools you need to mend the relationship.

What to do when your grandchildren don’t like you

Shared activities

One of the most effective ways to rebuild a strained relationship is through shared activities. Whether it’s crafting, cooking, or even a simple walk in the park, doing something together can help break down emotional barriers. Shared experiences create opportunities for meaningful conversations and can reignite the joy in your grandparent-grandchild relationship. Consider activities that allow for quality time without the distractions of technology, offering a space where both of you can be fully present. From cooking classes to weekend getaways, the options are endless. The key is to choose activities that resonate with both of you.

Emotional availability

Being emotionally available is crucial when you’re trying to mend a relationship where you feel like your grandchild doesn’t like grandma or grandpa. Listen attentively when they speak, validate their feelings, and offer emotional support. The key is to be there for them without being intrusive, striking a balance that respects their independence while showing that you care. Emotional availability also means being open to discussing difficult topics, providing a safe space for your grandchild to confide in you. It’s about being a steady presence in their lives, someone they can turn to in times of need.

Celebrating milestones

Life is full of milestones, and these significant events offer perfect opportunities for reconnection. Whether it’s a graduation, a new job, or even smaller achievements like winning a school competition, make it a point to celebrate these moments with your grandchild. Your genuine interest and pride in their accomplishments can go a long way in rebuilding a meaningful relationship. Sending a thoughtful gift or handwritten note can add a personal touch that shows you’re thinking of them. From birthdays to academic achievements, make every milestone a celebration of your enduring bond.

Understanding their world

To rebuild a bond, it’s essential to understand the world your grandchildren are growing up in. This means being aware of the cultural trends, music, and even the lingo that are part of their daily lives. While you don’t have to become an expert, showing that you’re willing to learn and engage with their interests can make you more relatable. This is especially important if you’ve felt that your grandchildren don’t like you due to generational gaps. Take the time to understand their hobbies, favorite music, and even the social issues they care about. Your willingness to step into their world can significantly enhance your relationship.


Navigating the emotional landscape of grandparenting can be a complex journey. However, it’s crucial to remember that relationships evolve over time and are influenced by a myriad of factors. From the natural quest for independence in adolescence to the impact of digital distractions and family dynamics, understanding these factors is the first step toward healing. 

The coping strategies and bonding techniques outlined in this article offer a comprehensive approach to mending the emotional rift. While it may require time, patience, and sometimes even professional help, the reward—a fulfilling and loving relationship with your grandchild—is well worth the effort.