What’s A Grandparent To Do?

If it seems as though Grandparent Issues have been on my mind as of late, it is true. Becoming a grandparent myself was like looking into a kaleidoscope: with just an ever-so-slight twist, the landscape is different and perhaps more complicated. One would think that on becoming a grandparent, all of the fun and indulging begins, and the responsibilities of parenting are left to our children, parents of our grandchildren.

However, one only need to be lawyer of the day, in one county, to realize how many grandparents have been instructed by the Department of Children and Families (“DFC/the Department”) to file for emergency temporary guardianship, lest the grandchild(ren) be placed in the care and custody of the Department. Regardless of the circumstances that resulted in the upset of that family unit, grandparents are now pitted against their children for the safety and well-being of their grandchildren.

Many grandparents find it hard to come to terms with their children’s challenges, be it substance abuse, or violent, criminal or negligent behavior. And most grandparents would state that they never imagined they would again be parenting young children.

To me, what is most difficult is when a parent must confront his/her child in the public forum of a court of law. Wishing, and perhaps praying, that his/her child will somehow learn to heal the wounds which caused the child to turn to such behavior, the parent is forced to underscore the child’s challenges to prevail for the sake of the grandchild. Nevertheless, in almost every parent’s mind must be the fear of further alienating his/her child, and exacerbating the situation.

It may be easy to say that everything happens for a reason, or you play the hand you are dealt, but the loss left in the wake of taking such a stand impacts each of the players in this nightmare. If the grandparent succeeds in getting guardianship of the grandchild, presumably the grandchild will be in a more nurturing and safer environment, but what about the future? What about the child’s relationship with the parent and the parent’s relationship with his/her child?

Should there be some sort of built-in system to assist those caught in such high conflict cases to mend the unhealthy discord between family members over the care and custody of a child? Often times it is the DCF, and then the court who becomes aware of the problems. Yet, neither system is designed to lend assistance on this level, regrettably.

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