My Ouma had as much influence on my earliest years as my father, and nearly as much as my mother. I saw her every day, and who she was and who I am are directly connected.
It’s not every family, though, where the grandparents are seamlessly included in children’s lives – and I can remember the odd argument between Ouma and my folks on details like whether children should be allowed to jump on beds (she said yes!)
The delicate balance within families can be disrupted dramatically by breakups and divorce. And the grandparent relationship can be a casualty.
Now British law may change to make it easier for grandparents to stay involved in their grandchildren’s lives. According to The Telegraph
, proposals are under discussion to simplify the process of access requests by grandparents.
It’s important for children to have the affectionate continuity of contact with loving grandparents – as long as grandparents can stay neutral in the battle between parents in the midst of a breakup.
Access can so easily become a stick with which to beat an ex – and his or her family – that it is not surprising that some grandparents need to resort to legal avenues to maintain contact.
Sad, though, isn’t it?
But it’s not only in divorce cases that grandparents can get marginalised, through a breakdown in communication. Yet the roles that they play
in children’s lives can be so enriching, personal differences need to be set aside.
They are often the first port of call for ad hoc child care, trusted beyond any stranger. Misunderstandings
can easily arise, though, when the stakes are as high as the upbringing of a beloved child.
Of course, in South Africa, many grandparents are already in loco parentis – playing the daily custodial parent role. And there too there are legal difficulties that sometimes need to be overcome relating to child care grants and who is entitled to apply for them.
Considering all these important contributions grandparents make, it seems to make sense for some sort of protection in law for grandparents rights to have meaningful contact with their grandchildren. But what, how much and who decides? We really don’t need our stretched family courts cluttered with cases that should be resolvable over a cup of tea. It is tragic that what should be the natural result of affectionate family bonds should need to be controlled by laws and courts.Should grandparents’ rights be more carefully protected by law?