Readers’ Commentary The following story highlights Grandparent Alienation Syndrome, the scenario in which a child is programmed to reject a grandparent. As with most readers’ accounts of very personal lost-relationship events, it presents only the writer’s view:
“My husband and I enjoyed a very close relationship with our adult daughter and her two children from when they were born.
“As new grandparents, when our daughter returned to work after maternity leaves, we cared for her children for a varying number of days when they were preschoolers. If they were ill, we’d care for them at our house.
“With the parents’ agreement, I accompanied our grandson weekly to a “Preparation for Kindergarten” workshop.
“We had our preschool granddaughter twice weekly when her older brother was in JK and SK. I took her to an Art Class which she loved attending.
“One summer when our daughter had to work for two weeks, we minded both children full time. Our daughter enrolled them in a Science Camp to which I accompanied them.
“Our involvement in the children’s lives expanded as they grew older. We supervised them Mondays to Fridays, taking them to school, bringing them home for lunch and getting them again after classes.
“I’m a retired 30-year elementary school teacher. I’d help the children with their homework. The parents frequently expressed their appreciation for my help and the grandchildren also told me that they liked my help.
“I was shocked when my son-in-law told his wife that, I was “too hard on (our granddaughter).” Why our daughter accepted his assessment, I cannot understand.
“Everything blew up within a few days when I asked our grandson to correct some schoolwork.
“That evening our granddaughter, age 10, telephoned to say that, “Mommy and Daddy will take us to school tomorrow and pick us up and we’ll have our lunch at school.”
“I knew then that the parents were angry at me, but I still thought they’d “cool down.”
“Five years later, we still have had no contact with our daughter nor our grandchildren who were abruptly told that they couldn’t have contact with us.
“We worry constantly about these still-young children’s emotional and mental health. They’ve lost the support of my husband, myself, our son and our extended family members.
“I’ve tried to apologize to no avail. We tried to keep contact with the children regarding their birthdays and Christmas, but their parents contacted the police and had us threatened with Criminal Harassment if we don’t desist.”
It’s hard for outsiders to understand what can lead to isolating young children from grandparents who’ve previously been welcomed as lovingly involved.
But this story isn’t uncommon. As the writer told me in a separate letter about alienation, “If grandparents were guilty of physical or emotional abuse or constantly undermined the parents’ authority with the children, then, of course, they shouldn’t be allowed to see the children.
“However, this is rarely the case. Most alienated grandparents have no idea what they’ve done to deserve such a heart-wrenching fate.
“From our experience and that of others, a close relationship with one’s adult child and grandchildren appears the trigger that causes an alienator to isolate the grandparents from the family.”
Alienated Grandparents Anonymous (AGA) Canada, which was founded in 2011, is a peer-support group for grandparents and parents alienated by their children. It currently has presence in 50 states in the USA and 22 countries worldwide.
FEEDBACK Regarding a fully-vaccinated couple uncertain about being indoors with close unvaccinated friends (June 28):
Reader – “I suggest they follow public health guidelines and use this as their formal excuse.
“My understanding, so far is that approximately 80% of Canadians have received first doses and 30% have received second doses. (Ellie: these numbers may alter somewhat by publication). Those who are choosing not to get vaccinated (unrelated to medical conditions advising against it) will be in the minority.
“It’s possible that employers will be able to demand notification of status, as they have a legal obligation to protect their work environment so will have to take counter measures with those not vaccinated.
“The non-vaccinated can forget international travel, possibly even domestic travel. Some public events are already requiring proof of vaccination.
“Regarding our rights and freedoms, I’ve learned while taking a law course that public policy is a factor in deciding how courts rule on legal cases.”
Tip of the day:
Grandparents and parents should be open to discussion about any problematic issues that could interfere with healthy, loving grandparent-grandchild relationships.