Staying Connected With Grandparents

Brianna Maguire

Written by Brianna Maguire on Wed Sep 20 2023.

Family laughing together.

Key Takeaways

  • 32% of millennials describe their relationship with their grandparents as very close and strong, compared to 18% of Gen Z.

  • Americans are the most comfortable discussing physical health concerns with their grandparents and least comfortable discussing gender identity or sexual orientation. 

  • Kindness, family bonds, work ethic, and resilience were the top lessons Gen Z learned from their grandparents. 

An Irreplaceable Bond

Life moves at an incredible pace. Children grow up, friendship wanes, romance blossoms and dies and blossoms again. Through it all, a heartwarming bond connects generations and defies the rapid pace of change—the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren. This cherished bond bridges the generation gap, offering wisdom, love, and a unique connection to the past.

To get to the heart of this timeless connection, we surveyed 564 Americans about their relationships with their grandparents. How close are people to their grandparents? How often do they talk to one another, and what do they talk about? What have people learned from their grandparents, and what memories will they cherish forever?

Join us as we explore the poignant answers to these questions and celebrate the bond between grandchildren and grandparents.

Relationships Over Time

As with all relationships, the bond between grandchildren and grandparents shifts and changes over time. Some people grow closer to their grandparents as they get older, finding common ground through increased shared experiences like marriage, parenting, and careers. Other relationships grow distant as life gets in the way. How strong are people’s relationships with their grandparents, and how have the dynamics of those relationships shifted over time?

In a heartening surprise, 32% of Americans felt they had a very close and strong relationship with their grandparents. Another 33% felt close to their grandparents but believed the bond could be stronger. Across generations, Gen X had the best relationship with their grandparents, as 41% described it as strong.

As evidence of these strong bonds, 29% of respondents felt they knew their grandparents very well, and 30% felt their grandparents knew them very well. Despite the strength of these connections, 52% of grandchildren spent less time with their grandparents as adults compared to their youth.

A fair number of respondents also felt the dynamics of their grandparent relationships changing, both in ways meaningful and complicated. Over 2 in 5 grandchildren spent more time preserving their grandparents’ traditions and ensuring their well-being. Another 38% invested more time gaining from their knowledge and experience, and 37% felt an urgency to create new memories with them.

On the other hand, 32% of grandchildren had begun to recognize personality and behavior changes in their grandparents that caused them mental turmoil. Even more heartbreaking, 7% lost contact with their grandparents because they moved into senior living facilities. It can be emotionally devastating watching those you love decline in health and require more care, but maintaining those relationships despite the challenges will allow you to show them how much you love them—no matter what.

Reaching Out

One of the best ways to build and strengthen relationships is through communication. The more we talk to one another, the better we can know, understand, and love one another. This can be especially true for grandchildren and grandparents, as each brings a unique perspective to the relationship based on their generational experiences. How often do grandchildren make time for their grandparents, and what do they talk about?

In another heartwarming surprise, 45% of respondents said they call their grandparents at least once per week, and 30% called once per month. Interestingly, the closer grandchildren lived to their grandparents, the more likely they would call weekly. Over half (56%) of weekly callers lived in the same town as one or more of their grandparents, 46% lived in the same state, 36% lived in a different state, and 26% lived in a different country.

For those who didn’t live as close, technology helped bridge the physical divide: 49% of respondents felt technology positively impacted their relationships with their grandparents, with Gen Z being the most likely to say so. Unfortunately, over 10% of Gen Z and millennials confessed to never calling their grandparents—a reminder that while technology is a powerful tool, it only works if you use it.

The biggest impediment to more frequent communication was time, as 57% of grandchildren said their amount of free time was the most significant factor in determining when they reached out to grandparents. Another 45% said schedule availability was the biggest determinant.

The good news is, once grandchildren and grandparents started talking, they shared quite a bit. People were most comfortable discussing physical health concerns (70%) and personal relationships (64%) with their grandparents. Technology (56%) and finances (52%) were also common topics.

Sensitive topics like sexual orientation and gender identity proved more challenging, with only 33% of respondents feeling at ease broaching either subject. Gen Z felt the most comfortable discussing sexual orientation with their grandparents, showing an openness and honesty that could inspire older generations.

Whatever you discuss with your grandparents, the important thing is that you take the time to reach out.

Cherishing Every Moment

The more time we spend with our grandparents, the more memories we make with them. These memories can stay with us long after our loved ones are gone, inspiring us with the lessons we learned and the love we felt. What are grandchildren’s most common cherished memories of their grandparents, and how has their influence shaped who we are?

The memories between grandchildren and grandparents are unique, but some common experiences provoke special emotions in many of us. The joy (and drama) of holiday get-togethers emerged as the most common favorite memory (64%), followed by sharing specific foods (54%) and engaging conversations (46%).

From these cherished moments, a prominent lesson emerged: kindness. Across generations, kindness was the paramount value imparted by grandparents, underscoring the timeless importance of compassion. Along with kindness, Gen X learned the importance of family bonds, millennials learned work ethic, and Gen Z learned all of the above plus resilience.

Despite these beautiful grandparent lessons, many grandchildren missed opportunities to learn even more from their grandparents. After the passing of a grandparent, over half of respondents made no effort to connect with their surviving grandparents, highlighting the necessity of cherishing relationships while they last.

Connections That Guide Our Future

In a world where connections sometimes feel transient, the bond between grandparents and grandchildren remains steadfast and priceless. As we strengthen our relationships with living grandparents and honor the legacy of those who have passed, we help bridge the gap between generations and deepen family bonds.

Furthermore, as we encourage a connection between our children and their grandparents, we help them create lasting, loving memories. Indeed, through these connections, we ensure the wisdom and love of the past continue to guide us into the future.


Carewell surveyed 564 Americans about their relationship with their grandparents. Among respondents, 12 were baby boomers, 92 were Gen X, 387 were millennials, and 73 were Gen Z. We only included data from respondents who answered every question.

About Carewell

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Brianna Maguire
Brianna Maguire

Brianna Maguire heads up Carewell’s Customer Care Team, and serves as a resource for caregivers that need support. Whether it’s helping customers decide which products are best for their needs, answering caregiver questions, or just providing a shoulder to lean on on a tough day, her job is to make caregivers’ lives easier.