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Grandparents’ Right of Contact With Grandchildren

Posted By Jolyn Rudelson On 05.13.2011 @ 4:03 PM In Children of Divorce | Comments Disabled

It seems that everywhere I look I see articles about grandparents who are denied contact with their grandchildren.  Sad stories of illness, death, cruelty, and alienation: grandparents bereft from the loss of living grandchildren, their most important legacy. There are also stories of grandparents’ courageous battles with the government, seeking the right to see their grandchildren: costly battles financially but even worse emotionally.

In my blog post of April 13, I mention that there are hopes of winning grandparenvisitation rights, but that what is won only has worth if there are tools for enforcement built into the laws.

“Grandparent visitation issues are fast becoming a growing national social problem, and we as grandparents really do need to do what we can to raise awareness,” says Susan Hoffman founder of Grandparent-Grandchild Connection, advocates of the issue.  The truth however is that it isn’t just a national social problem but a global one.  It was reported recently in The Guardian,that an estimated  one million grandparents in Britain are being prevented from having contact with their grandchildren.

Opponents of laws to give grandparents visitation rights bring up the loss of parental control as reasons to withhold such rights.  There are indeed some extreme cases of grandparents who are mentally ill, abusive, alcoholic etc. where grandparent contact could be detrimental. But thankfully, the extreme is not the majority.  The majority of grandparents shouldn’t be deprived of knowing their grandchildren just because there are certain instances that require much more careful review by the courts to determine how beneficial or harmful such grandparent contact would be.   It is also up to the court to determine if the facts under review reveal whether it is the parent’s behavior at alienating  children from their grandparents that is causing the real problem.

Maybe it’s time to look at this problem from a different perspective. Grandparents aren’t the only victims in this Rights War. Aren’t the most vulnerable victims to be considered the grandchildren?  It is their right to be in contact with their grandparents that is being infringed upon.

The Divorce Family Pledge in my book IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU: A Grandparent’s Guide to Surviving Divorce in the Family includes the following:

“The right to communicate with….. all grandparents, at a time previously agreed to, by all means available, including telephone, answering machine, cell phone, computer, Web Cam, fax or mail, without any interference from either parent…”

All family members,regardless of divorce in the family or not, need to understand that their children’s contact with their grandparents serves a very important role that no one else can fill: a biological bond.  This is the same kind of bond donor children so desperately seek. The answer to the face in the mirror, individual personality traits and talents and the culture ones roots originated from is information each human being requires to feel whole.

Let’s hope parents will finally become aware that all children need the connection with their grandparents.  Yes, they even have that right. Such a relationship will have a positive effect on their adjustment to their life experiences ahead.

Achieving the right for Children of Divorce to have contact with their grandparents does not require the action of courts, big brother or passage of new laws.  Children of Divorce can win them if their parents are willing to take the “You” out of the divorce chaos, accepting that a child’s welfare is much more important than getting some kind of revenge on a perceived past wrong.  Hopefully parents will take the time to celebrate the blessing their child has been given by having one or more grandparents alive and anxious to give them all their love.   Before any parent refuses to allow their children to have contact with their  grandparents they need to stop and remember one thing, someday, if they are lucky, they will be a grandparent too.

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