All of us who are estranged from a family member look for answers constantly, we will read anything, everything we can. We seek support from faceless forums just to find kindred spirits. We dissect, we listen to ‘experts’, we put people on pedestals we spend many thousands of pounds, in some cases, getting a variety of therapies, legal advice, just anything.
11 years on, and I now take most things with a pinch of salt, I try to be open minded and accept that often there are no answers.
A worrying trend is that the whole issue turns into a bun fight.
Just because someone may have a different view from another it suddenly becomes some sort of battle.
One of the worst places is open forums.
When you first find a ‘place’ where there are others all writing about their own situation you can so easily be drawn in. It is a place where you can open your heart, write about how you are feeling and the despair you feel. The important thing to remember is that some of these forums are public. Everything you write is there for anyone to see, to copy and paste, to use in anyway they wish. Photos are the same, many FB group pages are full of photos of grandchildren, again open for use in any way.
Make sure you are on at least a closed group on FB, but better still on a ‘secret’ group page.
If on a public forum, be careful, especially if you are going through a court case, they can and are used in cases.
Of course by the very nature of the beast, forums can become tense places to be, people are vulnerable and often defensive. One wrong word written and misunderstood can do so much damage, then someone else joins in and before you know it, it descends into a slanging match.
As an outsider, just reading these posts, I often wonder how it makes those feel who are just at the beginning of their own journey of estrangement, I imagine it makes them reticent to post. I know I don’t.
I am always vigilant in the groups we run, to try and make sure they are safe places for people to be.
Grandparents are looking for help and support not to be on the receiving end of horrible remarks.
So think hard before posting on open forums, do you really want family members and everyone to read what you are writing, most importantly, do you want your grandchildren to at some point read what you are writing?
Once on the internet, forever on the internet.