MP’s are calling for an amendment to the children’s act to enshrine the right for grandparents to see their grandchildren after a divorce in law. Currently if grandparents want to see their grandchildren they have to go to court to obtain access.
There have of course been a number of people who have emerged telling their stories of how they have been prevented from seeing their grandchildren, although perhaps the most notable I have seen was a couple on ITV’s This Morning programme who talked about how it was in fact their own son who has ceased contact and has gone so far as to have the police send a letter ordering the couple to cease attempts to contact his family or to risk being charged with harassment after the father called the son’s place of work to deliver a message for him to call his mother at Christmas.
Now, while I do feel that where possible family relationships should be encouraged, and I myself would never have discouraged any kind of relationship between my children and their grandparents or extended family on either side, I do think that giving grandparents rights in law is a step too far, especially when you consider that even parents don’t have rights as such but that it is the children who have the right to a relationship with them rather than the other way around.
I also think that family relationships can be complicated, and that if a parent is preventing the grandparents from seeing the children there are more often than not valid reasons for this being the case.
If for instance you take a case where the parents are divorced, it could be argued that it is the responsibility of each parent to ensure the relationship between the children and their extended family on each side. And while it could be argued that in some instances there are parents who deliberately withhold access to the children from the other parent and as such are likely to do the same with the extended family, it could also be argued that there are many parents who are absent through their own choice, and as such it should not be down to the resident parent to ensure a relationship with the extended family.
Also, if for instance a relationship breaks down due to abuse either physical or emotional and the parents have (understandably) remained loyal to their child who was the abuser, it is perfectly understandable that the other parent might not want to encourage a relationship between their children and someone who has remained loyal to an individual who has hurt their other parent and in some instances perhaps even the children.
And Then we look at those relationships where it is the actual children of the parents who are preventing a relationship with the grandchildren due to their own relationship having broken down for whatever reason.
In the case I saw on This Morning, the couple stated that all they wanted was to see their grandchild. Yet I think that anyone would argue that if an individual has sought legal advice in order to prevent their parents contacting even themselves, there are clearly some far deeper reasons for the limit in contact than that they are just being difficult.
Many people do fall out with family for multiple reasons, very few go to the lengths of getting the authorities involved to prevent further contact, and it would have been interesting to hear the other side of that story, because I simply do not believe that this was just a case of the family being prevented from having contact for no valid reason, and the idea that these people be given rights to see the grandchildren in this situation is terrifying when you consider the lengths the parents have obviously had to go to to prevent contact until now.
In an ideal world we would all benefit from relationships with family and extended family. However, sometimes there are circumstances which we might not anticipate which prevents this from happening. Just because someone is family after all does not mean that they should have rights over the children whom there may be very valid reasons for them being prevented from having a relationship with.