Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Grandparents Share Hurt of Estrangement from Children

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Grandparents Share Hurt of Estrangement from Children

Article excerpt

Their stories are wrenching and complicated; each one is different, but as one grandmother tells hers, others around the table nod in recognition.

Some grandparents in the room worry that their own children are unfit parents -- drug users or worse -- while others simply had some ugly falling out with a child or in-law that resulted in the withholding of grandchildren as bargaining chips.

Some are stymied by the family court process. Some are blocked even from looking at photos of grandkids on Facebook. All of them are hurting.

A still-small Sarasota-Manatee chapter of Alienated Grandparents Anonymous has recently formed, put together by two women who had made the trip to larger meetings in Naples (aga-fl.org). They feel sure there are more grandparents in this area suffering through the same issues they are. The group holds confidential meetings -- for "self-help, not therapy," as one leader put it -- at 1 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month at Our Lady of the Angels Church on State Road 70 in Lakewood Ranch.

Judging from the talk around the table at a recent meeting, not being able to see, hold or help your own grandchild is an agony that never really lets up -- but there are different places on this rocky path. Some grandparents at the meeting were angry: "I have dreams of choking my daughter until she stops breathing." Some are resigned: "I decided I needed to respect myself, and I found relief in that." And some are at a point of guarded hope: "We dropped Christmas presents off at their door, and we haven't gotten them back yet."

The grandparents also talked of the positive steps they are taking to help children they are not allowed to contact. One said she was working to be qualified as a foster parent, just in case she is needed; another said she and her husband have opened savings accounts for each grandchild.

The local chapter would like to see their afternoon meetings grow, and add night meetings with speakers who can guide members through the painful process of family estrangement. …

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