| Here's your chance to get talk to Dr. Lillian
Carson. Receive her expert advice or tell stories about yourself,
your grandchildren, your families and your good ideas.
Dear Dr. Carson: The battle is now coming
to the end. The trial for the abuse and neglect charges of my deceased
daughter's children is July 30th, 31st and Aug. 1. Also, my Web
site is finally up, www.grandgifts.org. You will see a mention of
you. A few weeks ago, I was telling a friend that I was born poor,
married rich (divorced and went back to being poor), and that I
had never envied, or felt inferior when mingling with the people
I did. I broke that trend when I started really reading about you.
I had no idea who you really were, except that you had authored
the well know book, The Essential Grandparent™. Your accomplishments
are amazing! And, yet, you seem so down to earth. I am in awe of
you. Would you be willing to make a statement to my lawyer about
the essential relationship between grandparents and grandchildren,
as an authority? I have been reluctant to ask you, because I know
how busy you are, but I have to do whatever I can to strengthen
our case. We are going to have a tough fight. The Guardian ad Lidem
and the psychologist she insisted on using for the evaluation of
the kids, are both prejudiced against me. Here in Florida, the majority
of the voters are prejudiced against any grandparent wanting rights
of visitation, and the law is with them. Before my time is up, I
want to be instrumental in changing that. I hope to hear from you
soon. Keep up your good work! Love,--Louise
Dear Louise: Here's my statement. Perhaps you
should also give your lawyer a copy of my book. Others have done
this and it has been useful. Please keep in touch and let me know
what happens. Good luck.
STATEMENT FOR LOUISE'S ATTORNEY:
Grandparents are outside of the daily grind that the parents
must cope with. This gives them a perspective quite different
from that of the parents. They also enjoy the wisdom of gathered
experience. Therefore, grandparents have a unique contribution
to make to the grandchildren and families. Consider their greatest
- Unconditional love and acceptance
Everyone needs someone
who believes in them, someone who accepts them "as is".
- Modeling a good life
The way grandparents
life their lives--their values, attitudes and actions--sends
a loud and clear message those who follow. When life is lived
with energy and purpose, grandparents signal hope for the future
sending the message that life is good and that it continues
to be worthwhile as one gets older.
- Providing family continuity
Grandparents are the
family's connection to the past. Knowing where you come from
is an important ingredient in building your identity. Connecting
your grandchildren to the family's roots provides that link
and renews the meaning of family.
- Ensuring stability and security
Grandparents are there
to lend a helping hand, to encourage and support their grandchildren.
these gifts which enable them to have roots into the past and
wings to try themselves out - to go for it. In these ways, grandparent
give their grandchildren roots and wings and the satisfying
life this brings.
Children inherit not only the legacies that their elders impart
but also the void that is left by what they withhold.
Grandparents, never doubt it: You are essential!
Excerpted from the Parents' Choice Award winning book The Essential
Grandparent™: A Guide To Making A Difference by Dr. Lillian
Carson © 1996 by Dr. Lillian Carson
Dear Dr. Carson: My best friend is broken
hearted. Her son and his girlfriend, following a succession of arguments,
have kept their children from seeing their grandparents. She looked
after the little boy right from when he was a baby up to the time
he started school so that his Mother could continue to work. They
now have a little girl of two years old and my friend has looked
after her also for the past 18 months.
However, due to osteo-arthritis my friend is no longer fit
and healthy to look after them and this has caused a major rift.
There are other issues but her son did not visit her on Mother's
Day and when she tries to phone the children the phone is put down.
Their grandad (her husband) has tried to sort out everything but
her son just says that he will never let them see the children again.
Is there anything that can be done about this? I feel so sorry for
her because she loves the children dearly.
Thank you in anticipation of your help and advice. --Christine
Dear Christine: What a sad predicament for the
grandparents but especially for the grandchildren who are obviously
attached to them. It is difficult to apply logic to such clearly
emotionally charged decisions. I assume your friends are in England,
as you are, and I am not familiar with the laws there. However I
urge the grandparents not to give up. Send little things in the
mail with notes (i.e. stickers, pictures) Mediation sometimes works
in such situations. A competent mediator can bring two warring sides
together with surprising, positive outcomes. Of course, it requires
both sides to agree to meet with a mediator. I write about this
in my book The Essential Grandparent's™ Guide to Divorce:
Making a Difference in the Family. Unfortunately there are
no easy answers but not giving up and continuing to reach out is
a good start. Are there any friends of the daughter's who might
intervene on behalf of the grandparents? Keep thinking creatively.
Do let me know what happens.
Dear Dr. Carson: Thank you so much for your
help and advice. My friends are in England and I will certainly
pass on your most welcome advice. I have been trying to support
and listen to them both but they are very distraught and distressed
about it all. However, following your advice I feel there may be
some hope on the horizon because I think my friend's sister may
be prepared to act as a Mediator. Naturally she is a close family
member so I think it could help this situation.
Once again many thanks for all your help. It is greatly appreciated.
Dear Dr. Lillian Carson: We live a few hours from
both sets of grandparents. I'm always inviting them to visit, however
we're lucky if they pay us a visit twice a year. Money and time
they have lots of. On a few occasions, they have been 5 minutes
from our home and still not visited. They know they are welcome.
I find this so hurtful. What do you think? --Hurting
Dear Hurting: It is a loss for the whole family. Some grandparents
believe in a golden age free of responsibility which keeps them
disconnected from their grandchildren. Others are uncomfortable
around kids and just don't know what to do with them. Let them know
how important they are. How about going to visit them? Try issuing
invitations to specific events, i.e. a picnic, cookie making and
a tea party, rather than waiting for them to drop by. Keep in contact
with calls, notes, pictures etc. If that doesn't work, read on.
Dear Dr. Carson: Since my daughter's grandparents
all live out of state, I was really feeling a void in her life by
not having regular contact with older people. I contacted a local
retirement community to "adopt" a Grandparent. We were
fortunate enough to "adopt" an elderly couple. A void
has been filled in our lives, since I have no living grandparents.
It's wonderful watching my daughter develop a loving relationship
with this couple. We visit weekly, bringing small gifts and treats.
We send cards, take photos and talk about happy memories, all the
things you would do with any grandparent. --Dorinda
Dear Dorinda: Yours is a heart-warming and inspirational
example of how to enrich a family with inter-generational relationships.
Thank you for sharing.
Dear Dr. Carson: I want my children to have as
wonderful a relationship as I had with my own grandmother. Instead,
I hear from my mother that my 4 year old little girl is just not
as good as my niece who is the same age. Or that my child is too
much trouble. To make the situation worse, my mother says these
things in front of her. In life, it is sometimes hard not to have
favorites. My mother has 3 children and 8 grandchildren but only
2 grandchildren share in her total attention and unconditional love.
How do I prove to grandma that her time and love are very special
and important to all the grandchildren equally? --Seeking Understanding
Dear Seeking: Trying to prove that you are deserving of
a parent's or grandparent's love and attention is fruitless, even
though many spend a lifetime in the attempt. You mother may not
realize how damaging it is to hold up your niece as a good example.
Protect your daughter by explaining that grandma doesn't have patience
for active children. Then plan some activities or short outings
that may reduce the possibility of conflict between them.
Dr. Carson's Tip:
Include grandparents in your kids school. Encourage the grandchildren
to tell grandparents about what they are studying ro what they did
today by phone, FAX or letter. And do urge grandparents to volunteer
in the classroom. They're needed.
"I have volunteered to read in my grandson Harrison's second
grade classroom. It's a highlight of my week and theirs. There's
such excitment when I enter the classroom with exclaimations of
"Grandma Lilly is here!" I tell them why I chose the book
I'm going to read. They are very talkative and respond enthusiastically
to the interaction. Their responses are fascinating and the enthusiasm
of second graders is contageous!
Do send your questions, stories and thoughts
My e-mail address: