Signs of Indifferent Grandparents: When Grandparents Don’t Care

When we think of toxic grandparents, we often envision controlling, manipulative, or narcissistic individuals who want to be involved in their grandchildren’s lives. However, there is another type of grandparent that isn’t so grand – the indifferent grandparent.

In this post, we will explore the signs of indifferent or neglectful grandparents, possible reasons for their indifference, and how to cope with the disappointment. Let’s dive in!

Signs of Indifferent Grandparents

Indifferent grandparents typically show no interest in being a part of their grandchildren’s lives. The degree of indifference may vary, but most apathetic grandparents exhibit the following signs:

1. They are always too busy.

These grandparents always seem to have something more important going on in their lives than spending time with their grandkids.


2. They never offer to babysit.

Babysitting is not something that these grandparents see as a gift or a joy. They are never in the mood to give the gift of their time.

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3. They show no interest in their grandchildren.

They have no desire to see pictures of their grandkids or hear about their latest milestones. This can be particularly hurtful to the parents who feel rejected by the grandparent’s indifference.

4. They don’t make any effort to spend time with the kids.

These grandparents have no interest in spending quality time with their grandkids. It’s not just about babysitting; they simply don’t want to be around them.

5. They’re often annoyed with the grandkids.

When the kids are around, these grandparents view them as an annoyance. They may constantly scold them to be quiet or stop running around.


6. They don’t try to have fun with the grandkids.

These grandparents have no interest in making memories with their grandkids. If they do make an appearance, they simply sit on the couch, waiting for an opportunity to leave.


7. They don’t know anything about the grandchildren.

These grandparents don’t know their grandkids’ birthdays, favorite foods, toys, or anything else that makes them unique. Details that would delight other grandparents leave them unmoved.

8. When they come to visit, they act cold and distant.

Apathetic grandparents don’t engage with the kids or spend quality time with them. They may ask a few polite questions, but that’s about it.

9. They cancel visits.

These grandparents frequently cancel visits, often at the last minute. Eventually, you stop expecting anything from them.

10. They can be verbally abusive.

They may use derogatory terms when referring to their grandchildren and show a lack of respect for them.

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11. They were neglectful parents.

In some cases, these grandparents were neglectful as parents as well. Their parenting style carries over into their grandparenting style, resulting in indifference.

Why Indifferent Grandparents Don’t Care

There are several reasons why grandparents may exhibit indifference. One obvious reason is that they simply don’t want to be grandparents.

Contrary to popular belief, not all parents, especially mothers, are eager to become grandparents. The intense love and enchantment with grandbabies are not universal experiences.


Additionally, age plays a role in a grandparent’s indifference. Some may not feel ready to embrace the role of a grandparent. The image of grandparents as silver-haired, wrinkly old folks is outdated. Nowadays, the average age of grandparents is much younger, with active lifestyles and busy schedules.

They have already fulfilled their responsibilities as parents and now want to enjoy their newfound freedom. They may not want to spend their weekends babysitting or dealing with the demands of raising children.

While some reluctance is understandable, consistent dismissal, avoidance, or alienation is problematic. It can make the grandchildren feel abandoned or rejected.

In some cases, indifference may be a manifestation of a psychological disorder. For example, a narcissistic grandparent may only “love” the grandkids if they fulfill certain criteria. Otherwise, they may display coldness or distance. Other belief-based reasons may include not acknowledging or accepting grandchildren who are adopted, of a different race, or have special needs.

While the reasons for indifference may vary, the result is the same – absent grandparents who show little to no interest in being involved in their grandkids’ lives.

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How Indifferent Grandparents Affect Grandkids

The impact of indifferent grandparents on grandchildren depends on the specific family dynamics, values, and circumstances.

If the grandparents are distant and unfamiliar to the kids, their lack of interest may not have a significant effect. However, for children who have regular contact with their grandparents, the lack of interest can be more noticeable and hurtful.

Regardless of the circumstances, the indifference of grandparents usually affects the parents the most. Witnessing their children’s efforts to gain the grandparents’ attention without much interest in return can be heart-wrenching.


Children internalize these messages, feeling rejected, unworthy, or unloved. The lasting impact on their self-esteem and emotional well-being can be profound.

How to Cope With Indifferent Grandparents

If a grandparent consistently shows disregard for their grandchildren, it may be best for everyone if they are not around. It is essential to maintain connections with other supportive family members and friends in this situation.

Children benefit from being part of a loving and supportive community. While these indifferent grandparents may not want to be part of their lives, there are other people who do.

Instead of dwelling on why these grandparents are indifferent or how to involve them in the kids’ lives, focus on strengthening connections with those who do want to be involved.

Remember, your children deserve love, support, and a sense of belonging. While these grandparents may not provide it, there are others who will.

Stay connected and build relationships with the people who cherish your family. Your children will thrive in a positive and loving environment that extends beyond their indifferent grandparents.

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