What can I do if my daughter holds my grandchildren hostage from me?

Family is one of the most important and rewarding relationships to have and maintain. However, life happens, and sometimes family members become estranged from loved ones. This reality is scientifically backed by research conducted by Karl Pillemar, a family sociologist. The findings of the study, reported in the Los Angeles Times (2021), stated that 25%, or 1 in 4 American adults, are estranged from their families. This is rapidly becoming a disturbing pattern, and one of these broken relationships between parents and their adult children can be found. A parent’s being estranged from their adult children often means estrangement from their grandchildren.

The questions this article hopes to answer are how grandparents deal with not seeing their grandkids and how they can reconnect with their estranged grandkids when their adult child holds Grandkids Hostage Estrangement.

Grandparent Estrangement

Grandparents are often excited about the birth of their grandkids and desire to play a part in their lives. They see it as another parenting opportunity and one more chance to right some past wrongs. However, this line of reasoning doesn’t bode well with their adult children, who want sovereignty and boundaries in raising their children.

Grandparent estrangement occurs when grandparents are estranged from their grandkids, either physically or mentally. The grandchildren don’t decide to be alienated from their grandparents, but it is initiated by their parents. This act makes grandparents absent from their grandkids’ lives.

What is Holding Grandkids Hostage Estrangement

Some parents make use of the threat of alienating their children from their grandparents as a bargaining tactic to an end. As a result, the grandchildren are held as hostages by their parents until the grandparents meet some of their demands. This is sad, but there is nothing the grandparents can do as the parents have full control. This grandkid hostage estrangement can make grandparents do whatever their adult children demand to have a grandparent-grandchild relationship, even to their detriment.

This raises the question if it is right or okay for grandparents to meet the demands of their adult children just to be able to see their grandkids. Some of these demands can range from money, behavioral change, signing of documents, etc. The answer to the question if it is worth it, is being able to discern between selfish and genuine demands. Selfish demands will keep occurring with no end in sight and grandparents will always have to bend to their children’s wills. To fix this problem, re-engaging with sons or daughters might not be enough. Grandparents might just need to learn how to cope with it.

What Causes Grandparents’ Estrangement

There are several factors responsible for this fractured relationship, intentional or not. The first is the movement of children far away, which makes contact between grandparents and grandchildren difficult. It can also stem from disagreements with sons, daughters, or their partners, or from having different opinions and life views. In addition, childhood trauma, a broken home, or dislike can also cause this form of estrangement.

The feeling of being estranged weighs heavily on the hearts of grandparents, so they are often willing to go to any length just to be a part of their grandchildren’s lives. However, this need can be exploited by some parents and their grandkids held hostage by them.

How to Cope When Grandchildren Are Held Hostage

There are some relationships difficult to repair. In a similar light, some grandparents don’t want to be in a grandkid’s hostage estrangement situation. Wallowing in self-pity or loath wouldn’t help in getting over this loss.

The coping mechanism is important, and it can come in different forms, some of which we will explain below.

Ask for Help

Asking for help isn’t a show of weakness but a way of handling grief. This kind of help can come from a professional, a therapist, or a respected figure like your pastor. Opening up to these people about your loss will lighten your heart and grief. You can also find a way of reconnecting back to your children and grandchildren by interacting with them.

Have a Journal

There is no age limit to owning journals. Grandparents can also keep one. Owning a journal and writing down thoughts while thinking about your grandchildren is proof that you always thought about them. They might get to see it at some point and cherish it.

Find a Hobby

Crying over spilled milk doesn’t or wouldn’t change the situation. Coming to peace with this loss is the only way to save your mental and emotional wellbeing. Finding a hobby or nurturing an old one, and pouring your energy into it, is one of the ways to deal with this loss. This will take your mind off what you have little to no control over.

Look for a Support Group

Misery loves company. Not everybody has that perfect life or relationship. The sooner you realize that the sooner you stop being hard on yourself. Maintaining a relationship is difficult and there are times when things get out of control. Knowing people are going through a similar situation will help ease some of the pain. In this support group, you will be able to openly share your feelings without judgment and listen to others. It will serve as a group therapy session for healing.

Outstanding Ways Grandparents Can Reengage With Their Grandkids

Not all situation is one of the grandkids’ hostage estrangement, with some worth salvaging and rebuilding. The first step to re-engaging is reflecting and finding the cause of the break in the relationship. By understanding this, as a grandparent, you can be able to mend the relationship with your daughter or son and be a part of your grandkid’s life. With these tips mentioned below, you can reconnect with your grandchildren by improving their relationship with their parents.

Active Communication

Communicate with your adult children and listen attentively to them. Convey your feelings to them and listen to theirs. This session can be facilitated by a counselor or a therapist, or just within the family. Strive for understanding in the end; apologize or have a change in behavior if needed.

Boundaries should be Respected

You need to understand that your grandkids are the first children of their parents before being your grandkids. Your role in their lives should be limited to the boundaries set by their parents, as they are their guardians. This boundary should in turn be respected by you.

Final Words

Alienation from loved ones is always difficult and filled with grief. Grandparents often go through this sadness and are helpless most of the time. In some situations, they experience grandkids’ hostage estrangement and have to pay some price just to be present in their grandkid’s life. In this article, we were able to highlight how to cope with this loss and how to reconnect with grandchildren by fixing broken relationships.


Atlas, G. (2021, November 28). Op-Ed: 1 in 4 adults are estranged from family and paying a psychological price. Los Angeles Times.