Grandparental estrangement is an international epidemic—in Ontario, Canada, alone a reported 75,000 grandparents cannot see their grandchildren—but at least it’s an epidemic that is finally coming out of the shadows. Grandparents are banding together and, like “Doreen” in Difficult Daughter-in-Law, Part 5, they’re fighting back. They are forming info-sharing organizations, joining online support groups, and advocating on the state and national level for legal standing. Here’s a small sample of their activities:
Alienated Grandparents Anonymous. Headquartered in Naples, FL, and with members in every state, AGA offers free meetings, a national conference, YouTube presentations, tips from experts, and online outreach that provides information and support. It stresses reunification and reconciliation for families and lobbies for state laws that include consideration of grandparents among divorcing couples and intact families. Their brochure claims, “Studies show that the best form of help for complicated grief (grief without closure) is a peer-led support group.” www.AGA-FL.org
Grandparent Rights Advocates National Delegation of the United States of America. This is an organization dedicated to the development and/ or modification of legislation providing legal recourse for grandparents denied visitation with their grandchildren. Grand-USA is committed to the children, their alienated grandparents, and the survival of extended families in all fifty states. They have state affiliates and urge those interested to join the grassroots effort to create and amend legislation for grandchildren and grandparents to help them remain connected. www.grand-usa.org
Facebook Groups. When you log into Facebook, you can will find several groups that speak to the crisis in extended family relations today. Among them are Grandparent Alienation 101, Grandparent/Grandchild, Estrangement/Alienation is not Natural, Find my Grandparent, and Grandparents without Grandchildren. Their memberships are surprisingly large—and growing fast. What a boon to have these resources available to grandparents day or night right from their home.
Grandparent Alienation Awareness Day. For the past three years many states have declared a day in mid-June Grandparent Alienation Awareness Day. Activists use this day to put their case before judges, lawyers, state legislators, advice columnists, mental health practitioners, MD’s, and teachers. Several of the states observing Grandparent Alienation Day are not the ones you would expect, including Texas, Kansas, and Virginia. Here is the proclamation from the governor of Alabama:
WHEREAS, strong family relationships constitute the very foundation of our community; and
WHEREAS, alienation is a term used to describe any number of behaviors and attitudes on the part of one or both parents, designed to interfere, damage or destroy the relationship between a child and family member. It is a form of abuse that causes emotional trauma to children; and
WHEREAS, alienation behaviors are frequently present in high-conflict divorces, separations, asymmetrical custody arrangements, and in intact marriages, often causing mental and emotional anguish to children; and
WHEREAS, alienation takes advantage of the innocent and impressionable, as well as the suggestibility and dependency of a child, depriving children of their right to love and be loved by their extended family; and
WHEREAS, mental health professionals agree that the negative effects of alienation can follow a child into adulthood with tragic consequences; and
WHEREAS, the recently published “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM-5) made several references to the dysfunctional family dynamic of alienation to be a form of psychological child abuse; and
WHEREAS, Grandparent Alienation Awareness Day is intended to increase the knowledge and understanding of this problem to help families, institutions, the legal and mental health community, and leaders to better identify and combat such abusive behavior to children:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Kay Ivey, Governor of Alabama, do hereby proclaim June 14, 2017, as Grandparent Alienation Awareness Day.
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