I have a lot of children. I lose count sometimes but including step children, partners and grandchildren we make about 16 for Sunday lunch. The eldest curly haired daughter, aka The Short One, is pregnant. We have ordered a curly haired child, although Drummer Boy (Short One’s husband) is not assisting in that department.
The Short One and I have weathered the storms of the tantrums, the teenage years, the coming home late at night after the odd gin and tonic (and that was only me), and now we rub along pretty well. Sometimes I irritate her, she patronises me, but I can be pretty certain that the Curly Haired Wonder and I will visit often and even have sleep overs from time to time.
It is, however, a sad fact that some grandparents don’t get to see their grandchildren as often as they would like, sometimes not all. Perhaps they have fallen out with their child, perhaps mum and dad are separated and the parent with care will not allow Granny or Grandpa to see the children.
Whatever the reason, there are paths to be explored, solutions to be found. Being a grandparent is not easy at the best of times. At the worst of times it is easy to forget that you need to stay friends with your grandchild’s primary carer. However hurt you may be it is sensible to keep your views on the state of the house, Mum or Dad’s behaviour, political views or new boyfriend to yourself. Be helpful, not critical.
When I hear a parent or a grandparent asking me what are their ‘rights’ my heart sinks. Children are not posessions to be fought over in the courts in some adult game of retribution and punishment. The truth is that the only people with rights are the children. They have the right to have their needs met and if having a relationship with Granny is in their best interests then that is what should happen. Rushing off to court and demanding your rights is only going to make ex daughter-in-law or estranged son even more angry and less likely to let you see the little ones.
Sometimes the problem is a lack of understanding of each other’s views or somewhere the idea has been planted that Granny hates mum. Court is not the answer, court is the very last resort and will always ensure that any remnant of a relationship you have with tiny tot’s parents is destroyed.
So what can you do?
- Talk to a well trusted friend. Their advice can keep you grounded.
- Take a deep breath. Stop and think. Keep your feet away from your mouth and try talking to tiny tot’s parents.
- Perhaps a session or two of counselling can help. Either by yourself or with mum and dad.
- If things get desperate, seek some impartial advice from an expert.
- Above all, look after yourself.