Content starts here

Absentee Grandparents: Is It Ever Okay?

JD with his maternal grandma.

In a situation when a parent decides not to be involved in a child's life, what role (and what responsibility) do grandparents have?  A post by one of my favorite bloggers got me thinking about that question.

Christine Coppa has been sharing her life on the internet since shortly before her son was born about five years ago.  Her first blog, on, was called "Knocked Up," a title that appropriately captured her personal story: Chrissi was 26 and had a great job as a magazine editor in New York when she unexpectedly got pregnant by a boyfriend who had only been in her life a few months.

Long story short: The baby-daddy bailed ... and the single mom started writing about the joys and challenges of being being pregnant, having an infant, dealing with a toddler, then a pre-schooler.  She's written books, magazine articles and countless blog posts on all the issues that have come up while raising her son,  Jack Domenic, or JD as he's affectionately known.

JD's maternal grandparents have been a big part of her son's life.  His paternal grandparents? Not so much.  In a recent post by Christine in Babble, she revealed that those grandparents haven't had any role at all in JD's life.

Christine Coppa with her son and her dad, also known as Poppy.

"They are standing by their son's decision not to be involved. But they are also enabling and agreeing with it," she writes. "It's a gray area, not necessarily black or white. I get it. People act differently in situations."

I agree that it definitely isn't black or white -- and as a mother, I certainly can understand the fierce instinct to be supportive of your child.  I'm not a grandma, so I can't definitively speak to the attachment I suspect I'd feel to a grandchild.  But I kinda think I'd feel some sort of strong connection - and that I'd want to be involved.

Curious to hear what others think of this issue - especially grandparents whose grandchildren are in families where parents have split. What do you think of absentee grandparents? Are you one? Share your thoughts below in the comments.

Search AARP Blogs