Dealing With Absentee Grandparents


When you first fall in love with your mate, you can’t help but think of the future and how you will become one big happy family. Sadly sometimes the best efforts to make this happen don’t always work. I don’t think any bride envisions not getting along with their new in-laws. And if you don’t get along, surely the moment they become grandparents you can mend fences for the sake of the children, right?  For some this may be true but for others…not so much!

In my case it is the latter. When we got married almost 15 years ago, I was determined that I wouldn’t be one of those women who hated their in-laws. I wanted to have a good relationship with them and in my delusional state of mind, thought we would have Sunday suppers and Hallmark family holidays. Sounds so lovely doesn’t it? However, shortly after the ink on our marriage license dried things started going south with my in-laws. Without going into to too many details, 15 years later I don’t speak to either of them and they have nothing to do with our children.

If it was just me and my husband, I wouldn’t even both to discuss this but as my children are getting older they have asked questions like “Have I ever met Daddy’s parents?” or “How come we never see Daddy’s parents?”. This questions are hard to answer. I do not want to say anything against them or express my deep-rooted anger and disgust for them choosing to not be in their grandchildren’s life. But I also don’t want to sugar coat the situation. My daughter asked me last night “Are Daddy’s parents good people or bad people?”. (Talk about being torn. LOL ) I choose to tell her that they are good people who have made bad decisions. Which is completely true.

I truly never wanted it this way but after years of manipulation, constant verbal attacks, and persistent hypocritical judgments towards us (mostly me) we had to stop communicating with them. Mind you the communication has always been initiated by either my husband or myself. It has been years now since I spoke to them but my husband still calls them on their birthday to wish them happy birthday. They don’t send birthday cards or call on the kid’s birthday which honestly, even after all these years still hurts.

Grandparent surprise visit

On the bright side, my parents are extremely involved with my kids. They talk to them all the time and video chat with them on Facetime. My kids love them so much and miss that they don’t get to see them all the time. I am very thankful that my parents are so involved with my kids. They are blessed by their love and devotion and I couldn’t ask for better Grandparents for my kids.

I believe my parents’ love for them is enough that the absence of my husband’s parents is barely felt.I do however, feel sorry for my in-laws. They are missing out on knowing our amazingly sweet children and watching them grow into strong, caring adults. It’s their loss.

If you are dealing with a similar situation I would love to hear how you handle the tough questions from your kids?



  1. We’re lucky that we aren’t dealing with a situation like this. The grandparents on both sides are involved in the kids’ lives, even though my MIL lives very far away. My mother had issues with her MIL, but my Dad still made sure that I had some type of relationship with her, even if that meant taking me to my grandmother’s house just once a month. As a kid, I could feel the tenseness, but tried to ignore it. It’s great that your parents are involved with your kids, though.

  2. I’m so glad you have involved grandparents! It does stink that one side is so distant. And it’s really sad they don’t call or write the children at all. It’s honestly their loss to not have those precious memories with their grand kids. Maybe one day they will come around. Hopefully!

  3. Oh that is such a difficult situation to be in! Thankfully we don’t have unwanted absentee grandparents. But more like my parents are much older and in poor health. They don’t travel much at all and my children hardly see them. But at least my Dad sends b-day cards, and when we do see my parents they get hugs. But that doesn’t happen very often. It is hard when the grandparents are absent no matter the reason though. But I think them being absent by choice would hurt much more.

    • It definitely is harder when parents are older. It that were my case I would totally understand and accept that they are doing their best. Our case however, is just them not caring about anyone but themselves. I love that your dad does send cards and hugs are the best! 🙂

  4. My kids don’t see their paternal grandfather much at all, but it’s because of health reasons. We feel lucky to have what we have, as my grandfathers died before I was old enough to realize who they were, and my grandmothers were both older, so we couldn’t do as much. I’m just thankful for what I had!

  5. That is a very sad situation for your kids and is not fair to them. I have a tough situation myself where my Mother in law favors her other grand kids over mine. My boys are very smart and can see that. My parents are like yours and show them more love then is possible!!

  6. I have the same exact situation. My husbands mom abandone him at 11 when his dad met someone else and wanted to divorce. He has new wife and new family. My husbands dad lives in next town and does not acknowledge us or our children due to his new wife. My kids are young but are starting to ask and i dont know what to say. It sucks

  7. I am a single mom. I live 20 minutes from my mom. She has nothing to with me or my children. I’ve never had a good relationship with her. I recently moved back to my hometown after 7 yrs of living out of state (5.5 hrs away. During the 7 yrs I visited my mom every other year. When I moved back near her I had hit rock bottom. I left an abusive relationship, she refused to help me at all. I used what money I had to stay in a hotel. She told me ( I can’t help you or give you a ride. It doesn’t suite for you to come over b/c your step father is in bad health and can’t deal with loud noises.) I now have an apt, still don’t have a car. I depend on public transportation and cabs. I wish I had never moved back here. I don’t know how to move on. I could walk to her house in 30 minutes. It has been 7 months since she’s seen me or grandchildren.

    How do I get rid of the hurt and bitterness?
    What do I say when people ask me why my family doesnt help me?

    • April thank you so much for sharing. Honestly I can’t say that the bitterness or hurt really goes away. For I have come to a point where I accept that they have chosen to not be in our lives through their own actions not mine. Do I still wish things were different? Yes but my kids are no worse off without them. They are happy, healthy, and loved. When people ask you why your family doesn’t help just tell them that they are not able to. Which is the truth. They are not emotionally able to help.
      You are doing a great job. I know it is hard and you probably doubt yourself daily BUT you are doing it. One day at a time. Don’t give up. Just keep looking forward. Have you reached out to some women’s shelters in your area? They would be able to help you find transportation and help get you other resources. Good Luck and I will keep you in my prayers.

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