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Letter: Grandparent Visitation Statutes
November 10, 2004

Grandparents' rights are becoming a fast and growing controversy and something most people have the privilege of never hearing about. It is like many other important issues that are overlooked. Unfortunately it can devastate a family. If this issue is not properly addressed and dealt with, it could be the beginning of the end as fit parents, our parental right, to protect our children. How could the Grandparent visitation statue be created without provisions for an intact family?

Parents who oppose the grandparent visitation statues do not oppose grandparent visitation. They are simply against the "forced visitation" laws that are devastating to children and parents. The majority of the less than estimated 1% of grandparents who choose to "demand and use" these statutes, do this in "their best interests", not the child's. It is done to "prove a point" and just because they feel they have the "right". It becomes a control issue for the Grandparents. A good source is "Grandparent Visitation Statutes: Are the Best Interests of the Grandparent Being Met before Those of The Child?" (30 Family Law Quarterly, 753,758 (1996).

Grandparents commonly give the reason for filing petition to enforce their visitation because of their unconditional love and wanting what is best for the children. We find this ridiculous. Is it unconditional love from the Grandparents forcing these children and parents into a situation which inflicts nothing but emotional angst? Is it really in the children's best interest? Are the financial implications forced upon the family by the Grandparents in order for the parents to fight for their family fair to the children? Are the following scenarios in the child's best interest? 1. Send signals to a child that lying to get one's way is acceptable behavior. 2. Send signals to a child that it is OK to force people to do what one wants. 3. Disrupt a child's normal childhood schedule by sentencing them to a "regular schedule of forced visits" that can interfere with sports, church, studies, vacations, and/or other social activities. 4. Inflict future emotional damage to a child and their siblings that could affect their ability to have relationships, want to be married, or raise children, etc. 5. Negatively damage a child's self-concept and image. 6. Negatively affect a child's schoolwork and grades. 7. Possibly foster resentment and/or hatred in a child's mind. 8. Possibly destroy a child's parent's marriage. 9. Possibly threaten the child/parent relationship by fostering doubt and confidence. 10. Threaten a child's sense of security. 11. Foster fear in a child's mind. 12. Possibly affect a child's educational and social development. 13. Possibly cause a child to be bitter. 14. Possibly cause a child to become isolated or detached. 15. Possibly cause a child's world to be filled with lawyers, courts, counselors. 16. Possibly cause a child's parents to be subject to contempt charges or even go to jail. More times than not, a Grandparent files petition for visitation not out of total denial of visitation, but because the parents are not agreeing to the Grandparents every whim and by not doing so the Grandparents somehow feel "their" rights are being violated. Not every grandparent is the "typical" grandparent that most people imagine such as a Grandma in the kitchen baking apple pies while Grandpa is sitting by the fire. That is not so in every case. Grandparents obviously had the chance to raise their own kids. Grandchildren are not an opportunity for Grandparents to make up for mistakes they made as parents. As parents, we want better lives for our children and sometimes that means recognizing relationships for what they are and were and moving on if it is not in the best interest of the family. As a mother and father, we have the parental right to protect our family.

We hear so often about Grandparents' rights. How about Parental rights? Issues with children are becoming based more upon how the children are raised. In today's disposable society, people are quick to point fingers at parents who pawn their children off on a babysitter or in front of the television, video games, or computer. Child advocates try to strengthen parental involvement. Well what happens when there is a family with two loving and caring parents who are involved with each and every aspect of their children's life and someone comes along to threaten that? A third party, who could be a Grandparent, a neighbor, or friend is allowed to file petition for visitation. In the matter of an intact and caring family, they should not even be allowed to fill out the court papers. Which in turn, if visitation becomes enforced, will include but not limited to weekend and holidays. It will also cut into precious time parents have with their children after work, school, and after school activities which the parents attend and participate 100%. Children are a gift from God to the parents. Time after time, people are ready to step in and criticize when there are problems within the family. But where is everyone when a third party tries to violate an intact, loving, and caring family? This is an unwelcome intrusion. Where does the parent's right to protect their children factor in? If this were a matter of child delinquency, the parents would ultimately be held responsible and forced to resolve the issue.

We are two parents who are responsible and active in our children's lives and are being told that an unwelcome intruder has a "right" to petition for time with our children. During this time of forced visitation, as parents, we would have no control over what is being done or taught to our children. Could someone please tell us how that is in the best interest of our family? How could the Grandparent visitation statue be created without provisions for an intact family? How could someone be given the right to intrude upon and invade the privacy of a family?

We are appealing to parents who find themselves in a situation like this to take a stand. No one should have the right to file a paper to start a court proceeding that will intrude upon and invade the privacy of your family. We challenge all lawmakers and state representatives to give us ten minutes of their time to tell them how devastating this can be to a family and that changes have to be made. We have continually wrote to our State Representatives and Legislators as well as our Governor. We have posted a soapbox alert on Congress.org where people can submit letters to Legislators regarding this issue.

It breaks our hearts to think of another family going through the same situation. It breaks our hearts to think of other children being unnecessarily exposed to the world of lawyers and courts when they should be enjoying their childhood.

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