It is pouring with rain and blowing a ‘hoolie’ as I write, the beautiful blossom on the Prunus tree outside our house is being buffeted and blasted.
At a time when we are all being told to #bekind to one another after recent events played out in the public eye, I wonder how on earth we have reached the stage that we have to be told to be kind, as children we always tell our children to be kind, just as parents told us and previous generations also taught their children. Yet we constantly hear awful stories of bullying, intimidation and the human cost of unkindness.
Strangers being unkind is terrible, but when your own family dish out the most horrific hurt and pain, it is unbelievable.
Just like the beautiful tree, parents and grandparents are buffeted and blasted, some find it impossible to keep standing.
False allegations are made against them, the problem with a false allegation is that there is no way of refuting them. Grandparents are still being visited by their local Police warning them that they will be arrested for Harassment for sending birthday cards, or birthday presents.
Have you any idea what it feels like to have a Police car turn up outside your home, and officers treating you as though you are criminal because you dared to send a card to your grandchild?
When I started Bristol Grandparents Support Group over 12 years ago, I had absolutely no idea what I was going to hear on the other end of our helpline, or what I would read in an email from a distraught grandparent.
I couldn’t believe how families could possibly be so hurtful to one another, and a word I seldom use, how much hate, people where experiencing.
All of us were parents first, I hope we all tried our very best when bringing up our children, yes we made mistakes, everyone does, we learn on the job.
What occurs within that nurturing beginning to make it all go so, so wrong?
Of course, sadly there will be and are situations where safeguarding issues are present, and obviously children must be kept safe at all costs.
For the majority though, there are no reasons present.
Control is the most common reason that grandparents find themselves estranged/alienated from their grandchildren, the children are used as weapons. It can be your own adult children or their partner that wants the control, whoever is responsible they are actually causing emotional abuse to their children. Not allowing and alienating their children from a loving caring relationship with their grandparents is evil, it most certainly is not putting their children first.
Every time I hear yet another story of grandparents being accused of harassment or a grandparent facing a non-molestation order, I hope it will be the last one, it never is, if anything it is on the increase.
Here are just a couple of case, I have been given permission to share these here:
We have two grandchildren which we have looked after and been involved with since their birth. Seven years ago our daughter, out of the blue said she wished to terminate our relationship. Barred us from the house, changed the locks and said that we could no longer see the children. Up to that point we thought (my husband and I) we had a normal relationship, thought we were a close family, and are still shocked at our daughter and son in law’s behaviour.
Although we never had any disagreements before she barred us from seeing the children, we had a few rows because of this, though not many, as they cut us off from the phone, in no way did we come anywhere near harassing her either by letters or social media which she accused us of.
A few weeks before the police visit, our granddaughter sent us a text saying what kind of grandma was I to send her mum a bill for childcare. We sent a text back saying we did it for love and 15 years of childcare would be incalculable. Our granddaughter said we were liars, as she had seen this bill, so we sent our daughter a text, twice a week, for three weeks, “Can we see this bill for childcare please”. Nothing else, and to this day we haven’t seen this bill because we haven’t sent one and it is obviously non existent.
We believe that is why our daughter sent the police to us with lies, to shut us up as our granddaughter was getting involved and perhaps getting too near the truth.
Shortly after that two policeman called early in the morning with a PIN (Police Information Notice). My husband and I were both shocked, as the first thing we thought was that someone had died. We let them into our home, (we didn’t know that we could have refused them permission) and one PC had a body worn camera and I was being videoed the whole way throughout the interview as if I was a criminal, and I was made to feel smutty, and in my own home. Of the two policeman one was horrible (who I will call PC Nasty) the other was just lovely (PC Nice). PC Nasty produced the PIN notice which was already typed. I was tried and found guilty before he had even heard my side.
PC Nasty outlined out daughter’s allegations and said he did not take sides. He did of course take sides. Our daughter on the face of it is intelligent, pleasant, and works in public service, whereas my husband and I are just two elderly OAP’s. All her allegations were false, and when I started telling PC Nasty the truth, he was disbelieving. I said I could prove her allegations wrong or misleading and that our solicitor had advised us to take certain actions which PC Nasty did not believe, and said our solicitor was naive in listening to me. PC Nasty also told us that our daughter told him she was a health worker, which would give her status.
Throughout all this PC Nice, was pleasant and reassuring to us, and he very obviously believed my husband and I. At the end of the interview PC Nasty’s attitude changed towards us a bit, as I think he was realising our daughter had beguiled him into believing her. She is very plausible.
PC Nice listened throughout the interview, and when he heard our story, he actually advised us to go to our police station and issue a PIN to our daughter.
I was tempted but I thought what kind of mother would I be to call the police to my daughter, but the real reason I did not go was that in time she would change the story round as if I got the police to her first, making me the bad one. I spoke to our solicitor and he told me that it was her that was harassing me, but I still did not have a PIN issued to her.
I made a complaint about PC Nasty and an Inspector came to call – 4 hours – at our house. I would not let him go until he heard all of our story, and he was understanding, helpful and actually telephoned our daughter to see if she would have mediation, which she refused. He called a couple of times after that, always concerned for us and very genuine. His first visit he brought a letter of apology, and verbally apologised to us every time he came. In the letter of apology PC Nasty also apologised to our solicitor for calling him “naive”. Our solicitor wrote a letter for me to give to the police, just in case our daughter decided to make more trouble, and he has given a detailed account, with dates about our situation. The Inspector also said they had considered charging our daughter was wasting police time “but she was bad, but not bad enough”!.
I saw a criminal solicitor about the whole affair, he wrote to the Chief Constable asking for the PIN to be removed, but he did not get a reply, and the solicitor said the Chief Constable rarely answers PIN letters. I saw this solicitor three times and he would not take any fee. He said that he has written to parliament about the PINS, called them draconian and said how unfair they were.
At the time of the PIN I was doing voluntary work with people with dementia and have had to have a yearly DBS check. I heard that I may have a record, so I rang the police to enquire about this. I was told that I was not on the DBS register, but the stress was unbearable, as I had to wait until this was checked which took a couple of weeks. I also told my fellow workers about this, but my boss said that it wouldn’t make any difference to him as I had been volunteering there for some years and he knew me well. It was an anxious couple of weeks though, and very stressful. Turned out I was not on the DBS thankfully.
Although I was happy with the apology there were two queries that perplexed me.
When I got the letter of apology I found that the complaint against me was several weeks after we had the police visit.I knew that the police have to act within a certain time so I assumed that had made the 50 mile round journey with two policeman more than once. I had to go to a Superintendent to enquire about this, and he point blank would not tell me how many visits the police made to our house before they caught us in (we were often away on holidays) . He said I would have to go to Freedom of Information to get that information. I did not bother, but I wondered how much police time was wasted with two policeman doing a 50 mile round trip, just for me, a thoroughly law abiding citizen. Surely their time could have been used for real police work, instead of chasing old grannies with PINS, a soft target.
The other thing I did not get any clarification on, was I told PC Nasty that his visit was giving me stress. He said he would call for an ambulance. I said that was ridiculous, he was being sarcastic and no-one calls an ambulance for stress.
I did not get an apology for this, and when I took the complaint to the Superintendent, he agreed with PC Nasty.
I spoke to a person in the Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust who said they would DEFINITELY NOT take a patient in for stress, unless there were other symptoms present. They would probably advise to see their own GP. They gave me the name and address of the Head of Risk of the NHS Foundation Trust if the Superintendent needed any more clarification, which I passed on to him. I have no idea if this was taken up, but I hope PC’s are not wasting precious ambulances times on trivial complaints. I would not be bullied into having an ambulance, but I wonder if other people were bullied into having an ambulance called, just to clear the PC if anything happened.
I also suggested to the Inspector that instead of cold calling on elderly people, they should telephone first in a pleasant manner and say they would like to call, telling the recipient there was nothing to worry about. The Inspector said they had listened and learned and that, whenever possible, they would do this.
PINS were abolished by parliament (just a few weeks after I received mine) and I requested the PIN be deleted. It took a while, as they lost the papers, but I received a letter saying the PIN was deleted, but again it was stressful waiting to hear that the PIN had been deleted.
I had a CR number, and I hope that has been deleted too.
This was a horrible experience for both my husband and myself to endure. I am sorry that there are bully policeman like PC Nasty and I am happy that I did not let him get away with it. The other policeman PC Nice who came to our house was so reassuring and polite, as was the Inspector. I was so impressed with his caring nature, especially when he tried to get my daughter to have mediation.
This was not a police matter.
Our daughter just used the police to frighten us away as our granddaughter was getting curious to know the truth.
We sent both of our grandchildren birthday cards.
We also sent them Christmas cards, all the cards went to them at the school, though friends who have children at the same school.
In January we got a letter to appear in court for a Non Molestation order.With my daughter accusing us of child abuse, stalking the children at the school and home and her at her place of work. (We don’t even know where she works).
We were and still are so shocked by this order.
We had never had a visit from the Police before, we felt like criminals.
Surely sending cards to your grandchildren is not a crime?
We were so scared of going to court. We have never been in any sort of trouble before.It has made us both so ill.
We decided that we would just except the order, after getting advice, this didn’t mean we had done anything wrong, but that we didn’t have the energy or strength to fight her anymore.
We did the best thing for us and the children.
Doesn’t make it any easier not seeing them.
In both of these examples, what you can’t hear, is the enormous damage this has caused.
Grandparents are left totally shattered by the whole experience, facing a court just because you sent birthday cards, the feeling never goes away. It is in your head last thing at night and first thing in the morning, you can not imagine at all what this does to a grandparent.
Families fall out for numerous reasons, but to impart this despicable hate, is beyond words.