The number of paternal grandparents who have a close relationship with their grandchildren halves after separation.
A rift between the children and grandparents will have a harmful effect well into adulthood.
This Sunday, the UK will celebrate National Grandparents Day, to thank grandparents for the unique, loving and joyful contribution that they offer to children. However, each year, thousands of children lose a hitherto close relationship with their grandparents after the separation of their parents. Research reveals that the number of paternal grandparents who have a close relationship with their grandchildren halves after separation from 6 out of 10 to 3 out of 10. The effects of this loss are long-lasting, Grandparents give children a sense of well-being and make them likely to grow up happier. A rift between them will have a harmful effect well into adulthood and as 1 million grandparents lose touch after separation, a large proportion of the UK children are suffering.
Government and the family law system are encouraging this rift, rather than protecting families against it. Grandparents still have to ask permission of the courts prior to making an application for contact with their grandchildren, even though in the ‘Support for all – The Families and Relationships Green Paper’ this step was proposed to be removed. Asking permission is not only stressful but can be prohibitively costly, sometimes ensuring that a relationship is lost. It is surprising that further steps have not been taken. The fact that grandparents are estimated to contribute the equivalent of £3.9 billion of childcare each year, according to Age Concern in 2004, is further reason why Government should be supporting this relationship.
Craig Pickering, FNF CEO says ‘children are losing one of the most valuable and delightful relationships of their lives at much emotional and psychological cost. It is vital that there are reforms to nurture contact between grandparents and children.’
Gloria Hunniford, in her foreword to the 2009 research paper Beyond the Nuclear: Including the Wider Family, said ‘it is time for the Government to harness the love and attention that Grandparents yearn to give to their families.’
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