The Problem with Ontario’s Grandparents Rights Bill

Craitor’s Bill 48: Children’s Law Reform Amendment Act (Relationship with Grandparents), 2013 passed Second Reading with strong support from the opposition Progressive Conservatives and NDP.

The latest version of the bill also has growing support from within Craitor’s own Liberal caucus.

During Question Period earlier in the day, Ontario Attorney General John Gerretsen indicated the government is prepared to take a close look at the bill as it proceeds.

– From Ontario’s Attorney General Expresses Interest in Craitor’s Grandparent’s Rights Bill as it Passes Second Reading.

Several attempts have been made over the past few years to pass a bill in Ontario that would give grandparents more rights in certain custody hearings.

Can the bond between grandparents and grandchildren be wonderful? Absolutely. Some of my happiest memories involve visiting my grandparents on their farm and exploring the house my grandfather built in the 70s. Even as an adult I occasionally dream about those happy afternoons that stretched on for eternity.

Here’s the problem, though: not all families are The Waltons or The Brady Bunch. Abusers grow old. Addicts grow old. Unsafe people in general grow old. Becoming a grandparent is in no way an endorsement of anyone’s character. Growing up in an emotionally healthy extended family is worlds away from growing up with a cycle of abuse that trickles down from one generation to the next. Kim Craitor is projecting his own childhood onto the lives of others in an inappropriate manner. His experiences were amazing…but that can’t be said for every family and it’s simply not possible to safely recreate his experiences in every situation. The last thing a healing family needs is for their unsafe relatives to grasp onto a law like this and push for contact that isn’t in the best interests of the child or children involved.

A parent’s decision to put limits on whether or how often a particular relative visits should not be taken away lightly. Every family I know who restricted or denied access to certain people had excellent reasons for their decisions. No one did it rashly or without considering every other option. In some cases the rules have changed over time. Relatives who respected boundaries were slowly given more freedom, those who trampled them were given less.

Are there good grandparents who have been separated from their grandchildren in messy divorce cases? Yes.  I can’t imagine ever doing that to my loved ones, but it happens.

The court room isn’t an appropriate place to remedy this, though. Just as parents decide what their kids eat for dinner or what they will teach their kids about any number of controversial topics – the existence of god,  the morality of eating meat, whether Deep Space Nine or Voyager was the best Star Trek series of all time- parents need the unrestricted authority to decide who is and is not a safe and appropriate role model for their kids. Raising a child is difficult enough without the rest of the world poking its nose into areas of family life that are none of our business.

This will never be a battle I personally fight but I am still planning to contact my local politicians to make sure they know that I oppose this bill. If you agree and live in Ontario I hope you’ll contact yours as well.





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4 Responses to The Problem with Ontario’s Grandparents Rights Bill

  1. Thoughtful and important commentary, Lydia. Not all grandparents should have access to children, as you so clearly point out.

  2. Jodi

    I agree, that’s why the courts decide which grandparents are allowed access. We do have a justice system. The right of access is generally the Child’s right and the parents wishes and grandparents wishes are taken into consideration, but ultimately the courts decide on what is beneficially for the child rather than what the grands or parents want. I agree with the bill. Kudos to Kim Craitor.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Jodi.

      I still think this is a decision that belongs to the parents, just as they decide which (if any) religion the family follows or what kind of diet the children will eat.

      I have a lot of sympathy for grandparents who have been unjustly cut off from their grandchildren, but I don’t think anyone other than parents should be making parenting decisions (unless, of course, they’ve proven themselves unable to keep their kids safe).

      There are many people in this world who will take a mile if they’re given an inch . I respect your point of view, but I think the risks of a law like this being misused are greater than the benefits.

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