Grandparent Delima

Mama N:

“Hi sorry to bother you but I got a question…. How does one deal with your child’s grandparents of your narc ex husband who make you feel bad for not wanting to leave your 4 month old baby alone with them especially because they have little to no parenting skills because of how their son turned out. How do you deal with issues like this?”

Mama Bear Blended Family Support

“I would outright say that you are concerned about their ability to take care of your child and and then just leave it at that. You have every right to be cautious.”

Disclaimer: Preventing children from seeing healthy grandparents who want to be a part of your child’s life and are able to properly care for and love your child is alienation.

More on Grandparent Alienation

“When grandparents are unfairly denied contact with their grandchildren, it can be heartbreaking for the grandparents and grandchildren alike. Although suing for visitation rights is a possibility, the most productive approach is resolving family disputes before estrangement is on the table” (Adcox, S., 2019).

Many times we find ourselves as parents in compromising situations where we have to decide whether or not relationships with certain parents/grandparents are healthy for our children. These decisions should not be taken lightly and should be thoroughly discussed. Although there are grandparents that try to pursue legal rights, many never see their grandchildren again after divorce or separation, without their child’s involvement in encouraging the relationship between children and grandparents.

Deal Breaking Behavior

There has to be a line, and sometimes parents are right to deny grandparents contact with grandchildren. Sex offenders, alcoholics, or substance abusers should not be around children unsupervised.

“Parents are also justified in denying contact to grandparents who disregard the parents’ rules about safety” (Adcox, S. 2019). This could include grandparents who transport without using the proper safety restraints (seatbelt or car seat or booster), those who have a history of accidents or don’t drive safely should not be allowed to drive the grandchildren anywhere. This goes for every other safety rule created by the parents – whether the grandparents agree with it or not.

Other Dispute Triggering Actions

  • Undermining parental authority, encouraging children to disobey parents
  • Speaking ill of family members, such as parents, stepparents, or other grandparents
  • Refusing to follow parents’ ruse for kids in regard to diet, television, bedtimes, and so on
  • Giving grandchildren gifts that parents would not approve of
  • Pressuring parents for more contact, such as overnight visits, when parents are reluctant (Adcox, S. 2019).

Families should be able to communicate openly about any of the issues that may come up, without cutting off contact between the grandparents and children. Boundaries and behavior discussions, as issues arise, can help prevent bigger issues in the long run!

Threats to Normal Access

“Barring grandparent misconduct, the expectation of the law is that grandparents have access to their grandchildren through the parent who is their child. This is expected to be true both in intact families and in cases where the child’s parents are no longer together” (Adcox, S. 2019). Complicating situations can include:

  • The parents are unmarried and the father has not secured his parental rights
  • A parent has given up his or her parental rights
  • The parent is incarcerated
  • The parent is barred from seeing the child due to substance abuse, a sexual offense, domestic violence, or something similar
  • The parent with custody moves a long distance away from the grandparents
  • The parent who would normally supply access to the grandchildren moves a long distance away

Another common situation which causes grandparents to be cut off from their grandchildren occurs when parents struggle with addiction. Naturally, parents who misuse drugs or alcohol and deal with addiction often want to keep their habits secret. If grandparents catch on to what is happening, or the parents’ addiction becomes so severe that it’s hard to hide, the parents may break contact with the grandparents. The primary motivation being they keep their addiction from being exposed (Adcox, S. 2019).

Breaching Boundaries

Another common reason why parents may restrict access to the children may be caused by grandparents who do not respect boundaries. This can take the form of violating physical boundaries, trying to take over parental roles or make decisions for the family like taking away the baby’s pacifier. Sometimes boundaries between parenting and grandparenting are blurred. Grandparents should be able to relish the opportunity to enjoy their grandchildren as grandparents rather than bearing the many responsibilities of the parental role, unless otherwise asked.

Have you experienced grandparent issues?

Please feel free to comment with advice and support! We’d love to keep the conversation going! Let’s build a community! Hit the follow button and share your experiences!

References:

Adcox, Susan. August, 2019, Very Well Family. Conflicts That Can Lead to Grandparent Estrangement, https://www.verywellfamily.com/family-disputes-may-lead-loss-of-contact-1695435

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