Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Do Grandparents Matter?

Tonight's guest blogger is none other than our own, Kairi Smith Gure.

I recently met with a lady, a grandmother, seeking information about getting visitation with her grandson. At one time, Grandparent visitation was a pretty hot topic in the legal community because of all of the constitutional fundamental rights that are implicated at the mention of someone other than the biological parents having rights concerning their child.  The state of Georgia has decided that Grandparents will be granted visitation when it is “in the best interest of the child” to do so.

So, I guess that becomes the question; when is it in the best interest of the child for a Grandparent to have visitation with the child against the wishes of the parent?  I am not talking about situations where the parents are neglectful or harmful to the child in some way.  In those cases the Grandparents would be able to gain custody of the child, not just visitation.  When the parents are NOT bad parents is there ever a reason to usurp the parents authority and award a Grandparent visitation?

Being a parent myself I didn’t like the idea of someone telling me what is best for my child, so when I first learned of courts granting Grandparents visitation I thought it was wrong.  But then I began to think about it in terms of the best interest of the child standard. When I think about the added benefit to most children’s lives from maintaining a relationship with their Grandparents it makes sense.  The standard is the best interest of the child, not the best interest of the parent's ego.

In the case of the lady that I met, she had raised her grandson when his teenage mother, the lady's daughter, became overwhelmed with young motherhood and asked her to take over.  Now, ten years later, her daughter is stable, married and, like Grandmother and her daughter had planned, is parenting her child again. All was fine until the Grandmother's daughter's husband decided that Grandmother had too much influence in the life of the child and decided to cut the Grandmother off.  I listened to this lady tell me her story and felt bad; not just for her, but also for the eleven year old boy that was cut off from his Grandmother, the person who nurtured and raised him the first ten years of his life. I have to wonder if this lady’s daughter was thinking about what was best for her son when she decided that his Grandmother would be cut off from all contact with him, all because the step-father said so.

I don’t think that the daughter was.

Kairi Smith Gure

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