The grandparent, grandchild rights debate

When I found myself estranged from my granddaughter in 2007, and looked for support, there was very little out there.

The only organisation I found was ‘fighting’ for Grandparents Rights, I have deliberately used capital letters, as that was how the campaign was being run. It was forthright, in my view often aggressive and for me, leaving me feeling very uncomfortable.

For years they had been using the same strap line of Grandparents Rights, and it had got nowhere.

For me it had always been about, how was this unjustified estrangement affecting children.

The children were my priority, they had no voice.

It was then that we decided that we would not be an organisation ‘fighting’ for rights for grandparents, but we would raise awareness and campaign for grandchildren’s rights.

I wont use the word ‘fight’ either, it is combative and is the opposite of what we should be thinking of.

When you start down the grandparents rights road, you come up against all sorts of opposition, non resident parents asking why should grandparents have rights over and above them, radical feminists up in arms etc.

Having had a son who was also estranged from his daughter, I absolutely understand, I would have always taken a back seat, if I thought that would have enabled him contact, it was never about me.

BGSG was always about the right of a grandchild to have a safe and loving relationship with their grandparents, and still is.

Many people have come and gone over the last 15 years, most now start off talking about the rights of grandchildren, but as time goes on the wording subtly changes, and when I read latest information, the emphasis appears to have taken a step back, and more and more slanting towards grandparents rights.

The big question here is, should parents have the right to decide who their children should have contact with?

I know how people will react to that question, but as a parent myself, when my children were young was it not me and my husbands decision who our children spent time with?

Of course when you are talking about family breakdown it is not quite as straightforward, if a parent is preventing a child in having a relationship either with a non resident parent or grandparent the answer may well be different.

Family breakdown is complex, no two cases are the same, families experiencing problems need help and support and quickly.

We sadly live in a society where everyone believes they have a right, for this, that and the other.

The word right needs to be replaced with the word responsibility. Being responsible means being dependable, keeping promises and honouring our commitments. It is accepting the consequences for what we say and do.  People who are responsible don’t make excuses for their actions or blame others when things go wrong.

We must, and BGSG will, keep focussed on the children, they must be at the centre of our thinking when striving to find a way through the highly toxic world of denied contact.

I have no doubt that this debate will go on and on.

Today I was reading through the diaries I have kept over several years, from about 2010,  and for those who feel BGSG has achieved nothing or very little, here is a list of what we have been involved in:

Meeting with Charlotte Leslie MP, very supportive and willing to champion grandchildren and grandparents denied contact.

Wrote a press release to BEP and Mature Times

Contacted by a trustee of Families Need Fathers

Take-a-Break feature.

True Vision rang, possible programme in the future.

Evening Post print article.

Radio Bristol rang, going to be on The Morning

Wrote to ATL Report mag.

Evening Post rang article and photo.

Charlotte Leslie MP to do ten-minute rule.

Wilder films in London phoned they are filming for DCSF, a showcase in January, about where people can go for help due to a family breakdown, to include dads with contact issues, and grandparents who also don’t see their grandchildren.

Set up Tree of Hope, messages from grandparents to grandchildren.

Did piece for BBC Points West.

Dawn Primarolo MP wants to be kept up to date.

Conference stand in March.

Was contacted by Professor Kenedy in Canada who is doing research and writing a book

Interview with Radio 4

Meeting with Judith Masson, Bristol Uni Professor

Speaking at seminar at The Create Centre.

Attended conference for carers of children.

Contacted by local mag for information for next issue.

BBC interview about a new proposed government taskforce re grandchildren’s rights.

Daily Express interview.

Article in Bristol Evening Post.

Podcast.

BBC The One Show.

Take A Break interview.

ITV Daybreak interview.

Daily Mail interview.

Another radio Bristol interview.

Interview BBC Somerset.

Interview with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown for radio 4

BBC Inside Out West interview.

Community Radio interview.

Radio Suffolk interview.

Film for Songs of Praise.

Article in Telegraph, plus supportive editorial comment.

Daily Mail, Daily Times, The Sun.

Radio 5 live

BBC WM- Birmingham and the Black country Saturday morning.

Article in Woman.

Interview with Radio Newcastle.

Dame Esther Rantzen sends message for our Tree of hope.

Follow up on The One Show with Dame Esther after previous programme.

Dame Esther and I on Radio Bristol.

North Manchester interview.

BBC Merseyside

Talk at Ladies lunch club.

Article in Mature Times.

Radio Bristol doing a week long feature on grandparents, took part.

Concert for fund raising.

Dame Esther agreed to be Patron.

BBC breakfast feature.

Victoria Derbyshire interview.

Article for Sunday Mirror.

ITV This Morning.

Celebrating Age stand.

2nd fundraising concert.

Meeting with Charlotte Leslie MP.

Radio Bristol interview.

Took part in Radio 4 phone in.

Interview with BBC West Midlands.

Article in Good Housekeeping.

Article in the Guardian Volunteering section.

Trees planted as a legacy to grandchildren.

Met with Dominic Raab MP and Nigel Huddleston MP

Wrote article for USA on lobbying day.

Wrote a piece for a forthcoming book on grandparent relationships.

Became partners with B.A.B

Interview with UWE students on family relationships.

Video filmed and completed for website.

Interview with Ruth on Radio Bristol.

Marc and I visited the Worcestershire group.

Attended FNF conference. Sue Whitcombe  Chartered Psychologists  Parental Alienation, Barrister from St Johns Chambers, Sir James Munby President of the family law division.

Discussed with AP about possible change in the Children Act.

Another meeting with Darren Jones MP.

Nigel Huddleson MP raised the issue of grandchildren’s rights at PMQ’s

Interview with Inside Out East Midlands

Involved in trailer for radio 2 loneliness week

BGSG video became finalists in the Charity Film Awards.

Two articles in Daily Mail with Dame Esther.

Bel Mooney listed BGSG in her column.

Interview with Radio Kent.

More meetings re One Show.

Debate at Westminster Hall.

Interview with Victoria Derbyshire

Letters published in The Times.

Attended Oxford group.

Radio 5 with Dame Esther.

Woman’s Hour interview.

Interview on Broadcasting House.

Interview on Jeremy Vine.

Interview with Radio WM

Met with journalist from ITV West Country.

Further correspondence with Lucy Frazer MP.

Gave talk at Contact Centre Annual Report

Article in Daily Express.

Article in Daily Mail.

Conference calls with Dame Esther and Vanessa Lloyd-Platt

Attended two day fund raiser at Lush.

Article in Closer.

Contact with Judge Stephen Wildblood.

Collated poems for Never Forgotten and published it.

Erin Pizzey became Patron.

Did a Q&A for  Gransnet.

Conference on children in private law.

Darren Jones MP submitted written question to PMQ’s.

Did interview with Mums/Dads Talk radio in Florida.

Another interview with Radio Bristol.

Interview with ITV.

Appointed co director for Two Wishes charity.

Zoom meetings become a regular support tool.

Article in Health magazine.

Podcast with On Record.

Quote for another book about grandparents.

Arranged for a plaque to be put on Clevedon Pier with details of support.

Completed training on responding to suicidal calls.

Wrote to Metro.

Continue to write weekly blogs.

This is not all of it by any stretch of the imagination but gives a slight picture.

When I doubt myself or others make me feel I should question myself, maybe I need to read through this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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