Alienated Grandparent? I thought I was the only one.
BY PAT HANSON
I had the opportunity to interview Amanda, founder of Alienated Grandparents Anonymous (AGA-fl.org) just before she approved the final galleys of her forthcoming book: I Thought I Was the Only One: Grandparent Alienation … A Global Epidemic. Since its inception eight years ago AGA has registered 141support groups in 50 states and 23 countries. To date, AGA has documented over 200 success stories (from people who had the wherewithal to report) where some level of family reconciliation took place.
The book provides information gathered from communicating with thousands of grandparents and great-grandparents who have been cut off or severely limited to access with their grandkids. It provides personally expressed feelings of grandparents in their own words, explanations, and insights about over 30 complex dynamics of Grandparent Alienation, including reasons why this occurs, and suggestions for a hopeful reunification.
- What are some examples of the dynamics of grandparent alienation the book addresses?
How money and wealth may play a part in alienation is one. It begins with an explanation of why it could be a factor, what might be done about it, and suggests strategies that might alleviate the situation. Among the 30 topics are: feelings of the grandchildren, enablers, raging, siblings, weddings and births, holidays, legal issues, grandparents’ rights, and factors concerning the use and misuse of social media.
- Besides grandparents themselves who should read this book?
Doctors, mental health providers, clergy, university professors, judges, policymakers, and those who can make decisions that affect family custody and grandparent visitation rights need this information. Therapists and attorneys without training can make things worse. AGA Headquarters has provided professional continuing education training sessions for attorneys and mental health providers. Many therapists who are called to testify do not believe Parental Alienation Syndrome exists, much less know how to handle it.
- Are there differences in the dynamic of alienation and family separation in the countries and cultures you work with?
In our work on Grandparent cutoff and Grandparent Visitation Rights nationally and globally, we have found no socio-economic, religious, or cultural boundaries. This phenomenon is endemic in society globally.
- Have there ever been reasons a grandparent with specific mental health issues whose adult children are right to keep them from interacting with their children?
Of course; there are people with addictions and certifiable mental illnesses that should not be given access to children. AGA deals mainly with loving caring parents and grandparents who need to know there are others like them and who need the tenacity to hold onto the hope of reconciliation and work for change.
- What would you recommend estranged grandparents do about the holidays ahead?
Hits on our website double during the December holiday season. I suggest my support group attendees to “take Christmas” any day they can get it … to appreciate those who do love and care about them. I have devoted a full chapter regarding holiday issues.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – DR. PAT HANSON
Pat Hanson, Ph.D. is a seasoned health educator, public speaker, and workshop facilitator. She is the author of Invisible Grandparenting: Leave A Legacy Of Love Whether You Can Be There or Not. She lectures nationally on Aging Positively and is a columnist for the magazine: Crone: Women Coming of Age
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