I chose not to contact you.

Almost every grandparent I have spoken to over the last 12 years, believe that they are alienated, and for many they are,  in fact when I asked that question of BGSG members 99% said they are alienated,  some groups will also use the term Familial Alienation, but it is worth thinking about it for a moment.

The term Grandparental Alienation seems to be a spin off from Parental Alienation.

Parental alienation involves the psychological manipulation of a child by one parent against the other, without any justifiable good reason. Children then demonstrate animosity towards a parent with whom they once had a loving relationship.

Of course there will be many grandparents who will have seen behaviour from their grandchildren that clearly can be defined as alienation. Examples of grandchildren running away from their grandparents if they see them, grandchildren actually telling grandparents that they don’t like them and don’t want to see them. Grandchildren telling their grandparents that Mum/Dad says they are bad people.

I was very interested in something I heard recently from a grandparent.

These grandparents had been apart from their grandchild for many years, but when the grandchild was older she decided to make contact and they are now reunited.

During a conversation the grandparents mentioned the time when the grandchild was not allowed to see them. This was the grandchild’s response.

Oh no, it wasn’t that I was not allowed to contact you, I chose not to.

Wow.

Just read that again.

The reasoning for that response was of course because this grandchild was aware that it would have upset her parent had she contacted her grandparents, but it doesn’t mean she was alienated.

Estranged, yes, but not alienated.

We assume that a resident parent is bad mouthing us, is painting a horrible picture of us, but it is just that, an assumption.

As I have said, it may well be that those things are happening but not always.

It is why I will normally write estranged/alienated because we have no actual way of knowing.

Estrangement is more likely to happen after several conflicts, arguments, feelings of disappointment and betrayal.

So estrangement could be classed as a justified reason to stop contact, for  example if there has been something in the family history that makes it justified. In contrast alienation is when a child/grandchild rejects a family member with no justification.

Clearly there are no  set rules and each case is unique, but I think we do need to think a bit more about terminology.

 

About Jane

Jane setup Bristol Grandparent Support Group in 2007 after a string of incidents led to the loss of contact with her Grand Daughter.

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