With people living longer nowadays, Grandparents are now not always the eldest members of the family; there can often be as many as four generations of family members within one family alone. It is therefore not surprising to find the estimation that at least half of the 14 million grandparents in the UK, are now under the age of 65 years.
Historically families always lived very close by to one another, in the same street or geographical area. Over the years, with easier commuting and social networking enabling cheaper, easier communication, many families have moved further away from each other. However, recent economic times, a higher cost of living, with unaffordable child care costs and a lack of affordable housing has dictated that many families now live together in order to assist each other financially. Often, a number of generations will live in the same household, or other separate accommodation on the one premises, making it easier for parents to go out to work or enabling parents to save for a home of their own, leaving Grandparents being joint carers for any children of the family.
Whether living close by, or separated by a great distance, a child’s relationship with their Grandparents is vitally important; Studies have shown that Grandparents are paramount for a child’s social, cognitive, and behavioural development. A child can go to their Grandparents for unconditional love, stability, and support; something that not all parents are in a position to give as freely as they might like to, especially if they are single parents, or if they have full time jobs. Grandparents are also able to pass on to their Grandchildren values and skills they themselves have learnt about life in addition to valuable information about their families’ ancestors, history, and cultural roots. This can not only help a child to establish their own identity, but will at the same time, instil in them life-long learning and a sense of belonging, something which they can then pass on to their own children one day.
Debbie Hillman of Charity Kent Family Mediation says, “Sunday 7th October 2018 is National Grandparents Day, a day when maternal and paternal Grandparents should be remembered and given credit for the important part that they have played in family life. Sadly, there are some Grandparents that for whatever reason they may have been denied contact with their Grandchild and as such are in a position where they are unable to take an active part in their Grandchildren’s lives. Grandparents can enrich a child’s life in many ways and when a Grandparent is no longer involved with the family, it can often leave a big void in the family that cannot be filled.
Family mediation can help estranged grandparents and parents come together to work through any conflict and rebuild relationships for the benefit of the whole family. Legal Aid is still available for family mediation and clients that are assessed as being eligible to claim Legal Aid will be entitled to free family mediation. This money will not have to be paid back at any point, even after a financial settlement.”
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