Time and time again, I am asked what are groups doing to stop estrangement/alienation?
I would say that it is up to each and every member of groups to become pro-active.
There is no doubt that many more people know now about the alienation of a child, behaviour that prevents children/ grandchildren having a relationship with either one of their parents or extended family.
I have found myself standing at a bus stop, having a conversation with a complete stranger, and when I tell them about BGSG, they say, “Oh I know someone that has happened too.”
The enormous amount of public awareness that has been achieved by so many, is making a difference, grandparents, hopefully, are no longer, when asked if they have grandchildren, are saying they don’t have any, to prevent having to explain.
Grandparents will say they feel ashamed by what has happened, and we have to try to work through that.
You are still and always will be grandparents, no-one can ever take that away from you, and it is because of someone else’s behaviour that you are prevented from seeing your grandchildren.
We all go around and around in circles, thinking what we may have done, wondering how we have upset someone, and we will even apologise, even though we don’t know what we are apologising for.
It is clear that this is all about control, someone needs to be in control.
The most painful way for the perpetrators to get control is to stop you seeing your grandchildren, why they want to inflict such pain is beyond mine or anyones comprehension.
Ok, so we know what the problem is, but if you have a problem you need to look for a solution to that problem.
So, what is the solution?
How I wish I had a ready made answer to that, and then everything in the garden would be rosy.
Yes we have raised public awareness and we and others will continue to do so, so thats a good step.
Some would have us believe that mediation is the answer, well those of you who have gone through with mediation know it isn’t the solution. In many cases when mediation is suggested to the other party they refuse, or the mediation just doesn’t work.
I realised very early on when talking to MP’s and Ministers, that it is ok to raise and issue but they want you to come up with a solution for them to work with.
One of those solutions BGSG raised was a small change in the Children Act, although if I am honest I don’t think a change in the law is necessarily the answer. The reason I say that is that we already have a presumption in law for both parents to have a relationship with their children, but in reality we have hundreds of thousands if not millions of targeted parents not seeing their children. Although a change in the Children Act for a presumption for children to have the right to an ongoing relationship with their grandparents, would be a start.
As I wrote last week, the Judiciary, those who have the power to act, must start to punish those who breach Child Arrangement Orders, as in Israel. That would have an enormous effect and actually would be one of the most important action for millions of children.
We then have to continue to work on a cultural change, the education of very young children, to teach them that as they grow older and have relationships with others, if they have children that it is their responsibility to encourage continuing family relationships, should something go wrong with their personal relationship with the other parent of the children.
Again as I keep repeating, that to deny contact between a parent or member of extended family is as socially unacceptable as drink driving or getting into a car without putting your seat belt on.
Cultural changes take time, I don’t think there is a quick fix.
It feels that we are dealing with a cult-like behaviour, and we need to break that chain, somehow.
It is not ok to deprive any child from a loving and caring relationship with one parent or grandparent, you may not see eye to eye with that person, but you don’t have a right to cause children so much hurt and pain. Hurt and pain that will stay with them forever, adults they trusted, let them down.
I would urge everyone who is going through this ‘living bereavement’ to become pro-active, write that letter to your MP, write to the Justice Minister, ask for a meeting with your political representative. Start your own support group up in your area, BGSG will help you do that.
It is only when we all work together for same objective that we can make a difference to millions of children, that has to be our goal.
BGSG Mission Statement:
Grandchildren’s Rights – One voice, united, breaking the silence.