10 years ago I was a naive grandparent who couldn’t understand what was happening to my family, I still don’t understand but I hope I am no longer naive.
I have got used to having people say horrible things about me, of accusing me of all sorts of things, people who try to discredit BGSG, and so no, I am no longer naive.
When you are a founder of anything I think you have to be prepared to take the abuse, even from grandparents that you had been supporting.
It is sometimes difficult to know what people expect of me and BGSG.
A recent contact asked me what was I doing to make things change, that it is not enough talking to the media to raise awareness, and that they had been told I was against petitions and many other things, which I won’t go into.
The big one that I get into deep water with is my views on a change in the law.
I have blogged about this so many times you must be sick of it, but it seems I have to justify my views.
You will have noticed that yesterday I posted a link to a new petition, which I am always happy to do.
I continually ask grandparents how do they think a change in the law would affect them and their grandchildren, how do they see that in practical terms?
I have yet to have any responses.
Is it the answer to everything?
As you will know BGSG has never been an advocate of Grandparents Rights, a phrase that is so antagonistic to so many. We have always put the feelings of the grandchildren first, and their rights.
Now of course how do we see this actually working?
Any change, as suggested on many previous blogs of mine, a small change of the wording in The Children Act, could never be retrospective. We couldn’t have a situation where, those grandchildren who had been estranged for several years were suddenly told that they now have to see their grandparents.
People often site France, as it is written in the French Code of Civil Procedure that children can be expected to continue a relationship with their grandparents if they choose to.
There are two really important facts there.
One is that it a cultural acceptance in French law, and possibly more important is the word ‘choose.’
If we think of that and place it against the many estrangements that are happening, firstly, should children be made to choose and as I know as I listen to it everyday, where these relationships have become so toxic, how can a child make that choice?
The children are just that, children, they should not be put into a position such as that, they live with their parent or parents, they love them both, they know how it upsets everyone if they even talk about those they are estranged from.
Of course grandchildren are missing their grandparents, but they need to be able to live their lives free of such burdens.
So any change that happens needs to be a cultural change, children educated at a very early age the importance of family life, the importance of respect to all members of the family, and the responsibility that comes when you have children in a continuing relationship, if things go wrong, with all family members.
A change for future generations.
I know that this may be contentious but I never want to give grandparents false hope.
Hope is of course necessary and the ethos of BGSG is one of hope.
As I say, “Denying contact with a parent or extended family, should be as socially unacceptable as drink driving.”