Dear Rhonda & Dr. Cheri: Fraternal grandparents: rights or not?
Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My husband was violent toward me and our girls, 6 and 7. I had a restraining order, but then he got visitation with our girls.
He became sexually abusive to them. He was arrested, charged and he was issued a permanent protective order. We went to trial, but the jury said there wasn’t enough evidence — and the girls testified against him. They found him not guilty!
His parents didn’t ask to see the girls, after their dad was arrested, and they supported their son during his trial.
Suddenly, his mom asked to see the girls.
I don’t understand why my daughters want to visit their grandparents. Don’t they remember their dad sexually abused them?
They don’t want to see Daddy, but what’s stopping their dad from just “dropping by?” He never admitted guilt.
Should I allow them to see their grandparents?
We’re really sorry for the pain your husband caused all of you. This type of trauma requires lots of therapy.
The likelihood of their dad just “dropping by” is great. The grandparents may apply to the court for access. However, with your ex-husband’s protective order, they probably won’t get it.
It’ll be confusing to your girls if they do receive unsupervised visits. At their ages, they know not to lie, but the conflict comes from “authority” figures telling them otherwise.
From a child’s perspective, they don’t understand multi-generational connections. Their grandparents’ absence may give them a longing for them. The heart wants what the heart wants. They simply want grandparents. Your rational thinking is the protection they need, however.
The judge uses a legal test called: The best interests of a child.
He’ll also look at reasons you don’t want the grandparents to visit with them:
• Have the grandparents acted unreasonably and not in your children’s best interests?
• What was their relationship like before the divorce and did they seek visitation during the divorce?
• Do either of you have a hidden agenda?
The fact that their grandparents didn’t seek visitation with them, until now, means you can assume they will try to alienate you and glorify their father.
The judge won’t allow your children to be pawns of their grandparents. You can ask for supervised visits. Then you are giving your children visitation with their grandparents and protection from their father. You’ll be comforted by not having to worry about their father imposing himself on his children inappropriately.
Try not to involve your girls in conversations about how bad their dad is (they’ll figure it out). Try not to talk negatively against your ex-husband’s parents for the same reason.
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri
Rhonda Orr is the president and founder of the Prescott-based Rhonda’s STOP BULLYING Foundation. Dr. Cheri L. McDonald, PhD, LMFT, is a crime-victim specialist. Listen to Rhonda’s podcast: bullyinglifeandstuff.com