Should Access to Grandchildren be a Legal Right?

2013-11-07 15:39
Grandparents and grandchildren

Grandparents love to spoil their little treasures, a not so well kept secret parents of the child worry about, but they often have absolutely no legal rights to see their grandchildren. There are, however, laws that focus on the "best interest of the child" that a grandparent can utilize to ensure he or she is not denied the right to see their spoiled favorite little people. On the other hand, most times the elder generation is dependent almost fully on the middle generation's good nature and love for parent or mother/father-in-law in order to enjoy the youngest generation of the family.

When the grandparent is denied that right to see the grandchild, many problems may arise. You see, it is not so rare to have children in divorced families kept away from a parent, and subsequently that parent's parents. An online forum within the Grandparents.com website is called Grandparents without Grandchildren, a safe space to rant and ask questions, share stories and not feel so alone in the process. For some, they have problems with their grandchildren, others are denied access to seeing them, while others still live in the world of ipads and technology for a chance to glimpse their little grandchildren living far away.

I have my own examples when looking at this topic. My uncle's wife moved to Canada where she had her children, far away from her family. For the most part, her parents have only seen their grandchildren over skype and pictures forwarded over the internet, grandparents pining away to have those little ones playing on their knees. They feel the yearning to see the little girls all the time and the few times they have physically been in the children's presence, it seemed as if they could not get enough of them. The love was overflowing and you could tell they missed their little angels so. Of course, should the grandparents have had sole custody over the children, they might have suffered from deep depression themselves, a University of California and Berkeley study says. The perfect balance would be to have the parents as primary caregivers and grandparents as the favorite old people who spoil the children rotten. After all, those who have never had such memories of childhood have most definitely missed out on much available love.

Grandchildren and grandparents complete one another. Literally. A Boston College study pointed out that adult grandchildren and their grandparents should spend much time together, especially if they want to ensure their psychological well-being. “We found that an emotionally close grandparent-adult grandchild relationship was associated with fewer symptoms of depression for both generations,” said BC Sociology Assistant Professor Sara Moorman. Whereas grandparents as primary caregivers can have them feeling depressed, simply having them in a child's life has the opposite effect by alleviating depression symptoms overall. I feel sad that I have denied my own grandmother the right to see me at will and hug me, kiss me, feed me, fret over me, worry about me and all the other wonderfully frustrating and frustratingly wonderful things a grandmother is known for. I moved across the world and though we have Skype and pictures, it is most definitely not the same. I will only see her standing before me twice a year at most. Once if she visits Armenia and Once if I visit her in Canada. I can almost feel the depression at that thought seeping in.

Divorce in the family is by far the worst reason grandparents lose their grandchildren however, as presented on grandparents.com and an article on The Guardian. Children often go from having three sets of grandparents to one or two because the parents of the non-custodial parent barely, if ever, is given leave to see or care for the grandchildren.

If you have your grandchildren close to you in your life, cherish every moment. So many are denied the chance to be the grandparents they instinctively strive to be because their little treasures are torn from them one way or another. It will keep depression away and laughter reverberating round the house. Just don't forget to ensure they follow a proper sleep cycle while sleeping over! Enjoy them while they are around. You do not get the chance to be a grandparent to your grandchildren twice.

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Comments

I have loved my grandchild since I learnt about her (pre-birth) however when her mother stopped loving my son (and slept with the landlord) she decided that this child had no right to know any of my son's family. Can a child have too much love? I represent her heritage and can pass down family values as well as family recipes....she is the one being punished!
Thank you for sharing Betty and I so sorry to hear about this beautiful child being punished in such a way because of human betrayal and egoism. No one can have too much love. It's the only commodity, the only human feeling that is limitless in giving and receiving. Hopefully the situation improves over time.
It is the saddest thing when family suffers because of the selfishness of a single person, often being a child's mother. It might be hard to cope with a broken family, but no persona has the right to tear loving members out of each others' arms. I feel your pain Betty, and hope you will soon be reunited with your little ray of sunshine.
I run a support group for grandparents who are denied contact with their grandchildren in Bristol UK, and I know also personally the utter heartbreak this causes. There are over one million children in the UK who are denied contact.
Great job Jane. Feel free to share this story in your group, but please attribute it to EmaxHealth.
HI Jane, that's an amazing initiative. Is the support group part of an NGO?
There are good reasons to need to take people put of your life/your children's lives. Even when those people are called grandma and grandpa. My MIL kidnapped my children because she doesn't agree with our parenting choice (we got them back 24hrs later and she was arrested). There is no coming back from that. We should have cut her out long before that but fell for the "she's their grandma" bs. Because of this I don't judge. There are two sides to every story and in the end only the legal parent(s) should have any rights over their child(ten).