Ask Amy: Grandpa Has Trouble Loving His Grandson

By Amy Dickinson | May 21st, 2021

Sometimes bonding can be difficult


Grandpa and grandsons Image

Dear Amy: I’m in my late 60s, and the grandpa of three children — ages 11, 6 and 3.

I adore the two oldest, who are the children of my oldest son and his wife.

I don’t feel much of anything for my youngest grandson, and it is always a chore when I have to visit.

My daughter had him as a single mom, knowing that she couldn’t afford him, and knowing full well that we would “come through” financially.

I know that a lot of my feelings are based on resenting her choice, and the feeling that we are being taken for granted.

Also, at this point in my life I just want more time to do what I want, and sitting on the floor playing with a toddler is not something that appeals to me anymore.

He’s a good kid, but how do you make yourself feel something that just isn’t there?

– Resentful


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Dear Resentful: I appreciate your honesty regarding your reaction to this child.

Now that you’ve expressed it, I hope you can successfully redirect your resentment and look for ways to let this little boy in.

Remember, always, that he did not ask for any of this. He is a little boy, lucky to have grandparents who are able to love him. Now you must find ways to do that.

You and your wife should be honest with your daughter regarding how her choice has affected your lives. You should also discuss what you are prepared to do, financially and/or with childcare, in order to help keep her family afloat – and you should let her know that your financial and childcare support will decrease gradually over the next five years or so, in order to inspire her to step up her own earning to support her family.

According to U.S. Census data, the poverty rate for families headed by unmarried mothers in 2018 was 34 percent, compared with 6 percent for families with two parents in the household.

If visiting your daughter’s home brings you down, it might be better for you to bring the child to your home for visits.

Your daughter is a single mom and you and your son (the little boy’s uncle and grandfather) will be the men he knows best during these extremely important early years of his life.

You have such a grand opportunity to show your grandson the very best of what it means to be a man, and sometimes the very best thing for a man to do is to spend time with and play with a toddler, even when he doesn’t want to.

If you show up for him now, he will show up for you later.


In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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