Visiting With Grandparents A Family Affair


In this marvelous age of sports cars and jet planes and Internet chat rooms, where we've devised countless methods of reaching out and touching someone even while we keep them at arm's length, the American family has lost touch with something important -- the guiding hand of a grandparent.

No sooner did supersonic transportation arrive on the scene than families -- once rooted near grandparents -- splintered and scattered to all corners of the country.

It's too bad. Grandparents who are involved in their grandchildren's lives often bring a stabilizing and enriching influence to their upbringing.

But these physical and cultural migrations that have put more and more distance between grown children and their parents, and grandchildren and their grandparents, have weakened a bond that no court order can fortify.

In the coming weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether lower courts have the authority to force parents to let grandparents visit their grandchildren when it's deemed to be in the best interest of the children.

Certainly it would be unfair for a parent to refuse to let loving grandparents visit their grandchildren, but the courts can't, and shouldn't, legislate relationships.

We believe that it should be the parents' decision, not the courts', whether to involve the grandparents in the upbringing of a child. To order visitation by the grandparents would be a violation of the fundamental rights all fit parents should enjoy.

It also would shift one more social responsibility away from the individual, where it belongs, and would place it on the shoulders of an overburdened court system.

It is our hope, however, that more parents will choose to make their children's grandparents an important part of their lives.

The renaissance of the great American family must start at home.

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