At what age do grandchildren lose interest in grandparents

3. Don't compete. Many grandparents fall into the deep dark "I'm the best grandma or grandpa" abyss. Competing grandparents only alienate their children and can ultimately make their grandchildren feel pressured and uncomfortable. When you set up relationships as competition, you're setting a dangerous precedent for your family and, quite frankly, being a lousy role model. Families have all kinds of varied relationships these days, which may result in kids having multiple grandparents. The good news is that the more loving adults there are in children's lives, the better chances they have for success. So be glad there are other grandparents in the picture and know that your grandchildren can be close to all their grandparents. You are all different people and will be different kinds of grandparents. One grandma may be the outdoor enthusiast; another may be the one to teach a grandchild how to paint her nails. One may have more money to spend, but another may have more time. Celebrate your differences and enjoy what you have in common.

4. Don't disregard parental rules. Ideas about discipline, snack foods and TV time can be hot button issues. Be careful not to stretch the limits. Talk over the non-negotiable rules that are important to your children. But also introduce the idea that in your home, you should be able to have some rules of your own. For example, your grandchildren may not be allowed to eat in front of the TV at their house, but in your home you permit it. Make sure parents are aware, and also make sure grandkids know that you respect their parents' decisions. Grandparents love to spoil their grandchildren now and then — it's one of the perks of the role, right? If it's all "up front," and non-negotiable rules are honored, parents are much more likely to smile and look the other way.

5. Don't be too pushy. Resist the urge to insist on seeing your grandchildren all the time. Instead, let your kids — and later on your grandkids — come to you. Always communicate your availability, but don't insist on unwanted or inconvenient get-togethers. Understand that you won't always be a top priority for your grandkids. They will inevitably go through times when they are more interested in their activities and friends than in spending time with you. Let it be, but also let them know you love them no matter what. Remember that part of growing up is learning about setting boundaries, so when grandkids withdraw, pushing them is the worst approach. Listen, don't lecture. Be their safe place and they will come around eventually. Your grandchildren may not let on that you're having an impact on them, but in the long run most adults will say their best memories of grandparents are of always feeling wanted and accepted. Focus on being positive and supportive, not invasive, and you'll be a big hit as a grandparent.

True or false: Grandparents hold a special place in their grandchildren's lives -- until the kids become teenagers.

If you said "true," then let the experts on grandparenting set the record straight. "Sometimes we just assume that older people and teenagers don't want to be around each other," says Donna M. Butts, executive director of Generations United, which promotes positive interaction between generations. "It may take patience and acceptance to develop that relationship, but if you can get past the stereotypes, you see that both ages need to feel needed, listened to and acknowledged."

That's quite true, says Arthur Kornhaber, M.D., founder of the Foundation for Grandparenting and author of several books on grandparenting, including The Grandparent Solution. He notes that today's teens spend a lot of time with each other but are often isolated from older adults.

"You might say there's an 'elder hunger' for the wisdom of older people. When grandparents share their time and life stories with adolescents, they also share their heart and spirit. That's a powerful and rewarding experience for both generations."

If you want to develop a closer relationship with teen grandchildren, the key is arranging for one-on-one time, without parents in the picture. "When you can spend that individual time with your grandkids, that's when the magic happens," says Dr. Kornhaber. "When a parent is present, there's a different dynamic, and the grandparent can get lost." Taking a day trip or learning a new activity together offers great bonding opportunities. Here are some suggestions:

  • Explore the world from each other's perspective. Take a field trip to a neighborhood where you grew up to see what's there now. If you have photos of what it looked like years ago, share them and talk about how it has changed. Likewise, ask your grandchildren to show you their school, favorite store or hangout. Discuss what each of you enjoys and dislikes about your life now and in the past. How have times changed or stayed the same? When you can, attend your grandchildren's school functions or athletic events and cheer them on.

  • See a movie, play or sporting event together. Before you pick an activity, make sure it suits your grandchild's interests. Afterward, go out to eat and discuss what you watched. Ask for your grandchild's opinion and listen closely without interrupting.

  • Get back to nature. Go hiking, fishing or sightseeing in an area that offers a change of scenery. Take pictures to remember favorite spots and your time together. Use the quiet time to begin a relaxed dialogue. Ask about some of your grandchild's favorite things: music, food, TV show, vacation spot, role model and dreams for the future.

  • Volunteer together. Find a common interest -- such as a love of animals or concern for the environment -- then volunteer your time with a related nonprofit group. Do you both have a flair for the dramatic? An intergenerational drama troupe may welcome your talents. Look for volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood that interest you both.

  • Teach each other. If your grandchild is a computer whiz, ask for help learning to use the Internet or setting up a personal website where you can share family stories or history. Offer to teach your grandchild how to knit or paint or cook a favorite family recipe. Play some music and demonstrate favorite dance moves.


If your teenage grandchild seems quiet or slow to warm up to you, be patient. It takes time to build a meaningful relationship. Adolescence is often a time of turmoil, but that makes a grandparent's role even more important, says Dr. Kornhaber. "To teens, the unconditional love and acceptance they receive from grandparents provides a natural sanctuary from stress at home or at school."

What if your own grandchildren live too far away for regular visits? Consider volunteering your time with youngsters locally, through a school district, community mentoring program or youth center.

"We call that 'caring where you can,'" Butts says. "It means so much to both generations, even if younger kids don't fully realize it at the time. In later years, that time together will become a treasured memory."

How often does the average grandparent see their grandkids?

According to her research, grandparents who live at a long distance tend to travel less often to visit and they stay longer, but the average number of visits that long-distance grandparents make each year is two to four times for trips lasting 5 to 10 days each.

Do grandchildren prefer maternal or paternal grandparents?

Both scientific surveys and anecdotal evidence show that typically maternal grandparents are closer to grandchildren than paternal grandparents. 1 The usual ranking goes like this, from closest to least close: maternal grandmother, maternal grandfather, paternal grandmother, paternal grandfather.

Do grandchildren love their grandparents?

Arthur Kornhaber, author of The Grandparent Guide. He says grandchildren and their grandparents usually “have an adoration and unconditional love and joy in one another's existence.” Experts say the physical, spiritual and emotional benefits of a healthy grandparent-child relationship are significant for all parties.

What is the grandparent syndrome?

"The Grandparent Syndrome" was first defined by Rappaport in 1956 as "the development of detrimental character traits brought on by the identification with a grandparent ... " This paper first reviews some of the various descriptions in the analytic and anthropologic literature of the significance of grandparents in ...