Parental Visitation When Raising Grandchildren

Increasingly grandparents are taking full responsibility for raising their grandchildren because the children’s parents are either unable or unwilling to do so.

While these grandparents are often filled with love for the children, raising kids, especially the second time around, can be stressful. To make matters even more difficult, visits with the children’s natural parents may be an additional source of tension.

Granddad and granddaughter reading together
Image by Aline Dassel from Pixabay

Time with Mummy and Daddy

It is natural for children to express love for and crave the time and attention of their parents. Children, especially young ones, are often innocent in their unwavering acceptance of their parents, even when the adults have proven themselves to be unsuitable candidates for the responsibilities of parenthood.

If at all possible, children should be allowed to have regular contact with their parents and should never be expected to “take sides” when it comes to disagreements between adults in the family. Both parents and grandparents must make every effort to consider the needs of the children, both physical and emotional.

Safe Visitation is Vital

Grandparents who are raising children are frequently put into the difficult position of arranging safe visitation between the children and their parents.

Depending on the reason(s) why the parents have given up daily care-taking duties for their children, grandparents may react to a request for visitation in varying ways.

If unsupervised contact with the parents puts the child in harm’s way, such as is the case if the parents are abusive or have substance addictions, grandparents may have to seek legal counsel in order to protect the kids. In general, laws are designed to protect and preserve the parent/child relationship, but in cases where the parents pose a risk to their children, it can be mandated that the parents have only supervised contact, or in extreme cases, no contact at all.

Negative feelings that may exist between the parents and grandparents are not sufficient reasons for denying parental visitation, but the safety of the children is an entirely different matter.

Adults Behaving Like Adults

In most cases, when grandparents are thrust into the roles of full time caretakers for their grandkids, it is because their adult son or daughter is not in a position to be a responsible parent.

Understandably, the grandparents may feel a certain level of disappointment in their children, but it is important for the grandchildren to be raised in a loving environment; one free from judgments and name-calling. Ideally, grandparents will relay stories about the children’s parents to the youngest family members in a loving manner, stressing that although the parents love the kids, they are just not up to taking care of them.

Honesty is important as children deserve to be told the truth about their family, but it should be done so in the gentlest possible way.

Sign of the Times

The increase of teenage pregnancy, coupled with ever-growing drug and alcohol problems, has resulted in a generation of children whose parents are increasingly incapable of providing hands-on care.

Compared to a few decades ago, the number of children being raised by grandparents or other family members has increased dramatically, with literally millions of children worldwide being cared for by someone other than their parents.

Considering the broad nature of the situation, it is clear that these children are not unique among their peer group. This commonality doesn’t mean, though, that the children do not feel sadness or loss because of their family dynamic.

While the kids are fortunate to be in the hands of loving grandparents, they may require counselling to help them sort out their mixed feelings about their parents. Ideally, the children will be able to have individual sessions and if needed, additional time for family therapy that includes the children’s parents and grandparents.

With the help of counselling, the adults may be able to come to an understanding regarding not only matters of parental visitation, but also other issues regarding the kids’ welfare.

Although it is not always possible to gather everyone, the effort is worthwhile – for the sake of the children.

4 thoughts on “Parental Visitation When Raising Grandchildren”

  1. Hi my daughter left an abusive relationship and had to move home at moment’s notice leaving everything behind, She has now rebuilt her life and three of her four children are settled into a new school home etc.,

    Her oldest child age 14 years, ( my grand daughter) has not settled very well and is abusive and violent towards here mum and younger siblings, and everyone else that she encounters including myself. She has been expelled from the local school where mum and the family moved to so I have taken her in to live with me and my husband ( granddad). and put her back into her old school where she was originally from.

    I’m having a really bad time with her, The school where she is attending are not very helpful and I’ve asked for help. They send her home every day and they constantly ring me at work which I have explained to them I am getting into trouble with my manager, I receive numerous letters 3-4 times a week.

    Also they leave messages on my home phone and mobile . I’ve had various meetings with the school and they said I have to get referred via the GP, I took her there and explained the situation and she has put things in place but she said the school should have things in place too.

    I’m going round in circles. I am dreading the new term in September. I’m at my wits end and I’m so stressed out. I’m crying whilst writing this letter, What’s next.!!!

    • You may have tried this already. But have you tried talking to your granddaughter calmly. Many children act out when they cant control there emotions.

      Speak to her social worker and see if there is any help they can offer. She may need to understand why she doesn’t live with her mom.

      Often we tell a child only what we think they can handle but unfortunately if it’s not enough they will come up with there own truth about the situation. Hope you work through things together and your granddaughter calms down x

      • @maz – good advice. Some people think that having rows over the kids is the thing to do. But no, trying to resolve the issues for the sake of the kids is the best way, I think. Even if it takes time. Liz.

    • My heart breaks for you. You love her so much and try so hard. Have you asked for psychological support for this child ?

      She is struggling and you need help to know why she is so unhappy. I pray God will show you the way through. Be strong and know you are wonderful.

      He will bring you both through.

      I understand something of you pain as I have similar situation only my granddaughter is still in care. How I wish she was with me. I see her every week but I know she is unhappy.

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