Grandchildren's Rights

Grandchildren’s Rights

The American family continues to struggle for several reasons, and we see people arguing over the right of non-custodial relatives to visit young relatives. Custodial parents contend they have the ultimate right to decide who will see the children. Non-custodial relatives claim the right to visit children, based on shared DNA. If shared DNA can create obligations, such as child support payments, it should also create rights, eh? Most important, it should create rights for children to want to see their elders that helped create them and who love them. Why is it that broken-home-kids can't see their grandparents, yet have to endure whoever their custodial parent wakes up with on a given Sunday morning?

My point in writing this piece is threefold.

1) To highlight the topic of visitation rights of grandchildren.
2) To discuss the effect of custodial parents lying to their children.
3) To share the plan of action I have, if such a thing happens with my future grandchildren.

One of the meanest things an adult can do to a child, besides sexually or physically abusing them, is to damage their self-worth by telling them they came from a defective gene pool. Some custodial parents are far too quick to reveal the flaws of non-custodial parents. It is even worse to lie about the non-custodial parent and relatives.

I know a couple whose adult son was killed in a traffic accident. He left behind a wife and young children. The parents of the deceased young father lost track of the children for several years. They somehow reconnected at a family function. The grandparents of those fatherless children asked them why they never tried to get in touch. They replied: "Our mom said you didn’t want to see us." Hmmm. These now-adult children of the deceased father know the truth and have to wrestle with their mother’s lies. No matter her excuses or reasons, she put herself ahead of the emotional needs of her children. She lied to them and made them feel unwanted. She lied to her children, which is a great disrespect, and she lied to them about their father’s side of the family.

Parents forget that their children will only be small for a short time. First, many states allow teenagers to decide which parent they will live with. Second, these children can grow up to hate their parents, if they choose. Every mature, functional person will, at some time, put their parents on trial in their minds. They will decide if their parents were basically good or bad. It is possible for adult children to hate one or both parents.

Here is my plan for dealing with a contrary custodial parent, should my grandchildren ever be denied reasonable access to me.

  • I will write each child regularly, and make two photocopies of each letter, placing them in two separate but identical albums.
  • I will record each time I tried to make contact with the children and the result of each attempt. I will send gifts on the appropriate occasions, and photograph and catalog the gifts. One album will be mine, and the other will be presented to each child when he or she turns 18. (I know a custodial mother who returns large presents given by grandparents to the store and keeps the cash.).
  • I will contact them as they become legal adults and offer them each $100 to meet with me and listen to me for one hour. (The money will create a desire in the grandchild to meet with us, no matter the custodial parent's bad press about us) At the meeting, I will give them a history of our attempts to have a relationship with them, and will have them thumb through the album in my presence, so I can explain how and why the album was put together. The grandchild will then have a new perspective on our previously-failed relationship. I will ask specific questions, such as:
    1) What type of people did your custodial parent portray us to be?
    2) How did she or he explain our absence in your lives?

I will express my desire to build a relationship with each grandchild, and see what happens. Each grandchild can then take his or her album to their custodial parent and ask questions.

Many children are used today as weapons of war against others. Parents need to understand that any weapon used to wound others will come back bloodied. I have never seen a child used as a weapon that is happy and secure.

©2010 Eric Rose