VCR ALERT/grandparents/Weiner-Davis replies/comments
Sat Jan 8 17:28:45 EST 2000
from: Smart Marriages
>I hate the N.Y. Times request for couples divorcing after 20 years. Why
> new divorce trend? Why
>let people in twenty-something year marriages know that if they want to get
>out, they are in good company? Ick.
I agree. It's not our focus, but perhaps we can include
some couples who are in process of turning things around...? - diane
Lynne Gold-Bikin, founder of the PARTNERS program, will be on the TODAY
show Wednessday, Jan 12 on the issue of Grandparent's visitation. That's
the day the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the issue. She's
scheduled for the 8-8:30am segment. She will present an institute and
workshop at Smart Marriages. (see related story below)
Survey finds strong generational bonds
AARP releases results as Supreme Court considers visitation rights case
By Frank A. Aukofer of the Journal Sentinel staff
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Jan. 6, 2000
Washington - Pointing to a new national survey that showed strong bonds
between the two generations, the AARP said Wednesday that courts should
be able to enforce grandparents' visitation rights with their
The survey by AARP, which represents 30 million members aged 50 and
older, was released a week before the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to
hear oral arguments in a grandparents' rights case that is likely to have
an impact nationwide.
The high court will decide a challenge to a decision of the Washington
state Supreme Court, which nullified a state law that allowed family
courts to grant visitation rights with a child if the court concluded it
would be in the child's best interest.
Wisconsin and the other 48 states all have similar laws that could be
affected by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision.
In its 1998 decision, the Washington Supreme Court held that the law
violated a parent's constitutional right to "rear his or her child
without state interference."
The appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was brought by grandparents Gary and
Jenifer Troxel, who sought visitation rights with the children of their
son, who was not married to the woman who bore them. He later committed
They won in the lower court. But the visitation rights were overturned by
the state Supreme Court.
In addition to commissioning the survey, AARP filed a friend of the court
brief, or written arguments, with the Supreme Court in support of the
state visitation laws.
"Grandparent visitation statutes have been enacted as a national response
to increasing rates of parental drug use, teen pregnancy, divorce,
single-parent households, crime and child abuse," the brief says.
A lawyer for the AARP said the organization did not seek to enforce
visitation rights where parents made a considered decision to exclude
grandparents from their children's lives, but only in cases with special
circumstances of divorce, separation or death.
In the survey, which was conducted among 823 grandparents aged 50 and
older in 1998 but only recently compiled, the AARP found that 82% of the
grandparents said they had seen a grandchild in the past month, and 85%
said they had spoken with a grandchild on the telephone.
Seventy-two percent said they had shared a meal with a grandchild in the
past month, and an equal number said they had bought a gift for the
grandchild in the same time.
The study showed that grandparents spent a median of $489 a year on
gifts, clothing, outings, tuition and other items. The 11% of
grandparents who also are primary care givers to their grandchildren
spent even more - a median of $688.
Half of the grandparents said they were companions or friends of their
grandchildren, and about 30% to 35% said they had other roles as
confidants, advice-givers and conversationalists talking about family
The survey said that although grandparents played a variety of roles, the
most common one was simply being a friend to their grandchildren.
"Perhaps the most striking finding of this study is the extent to which
generations are connected to each other," the survey concludes. "In spite
of a mobile society (and) busy lives . . . most grandparents regularly
interact with their grandchildren."
Gretchen Straw, the AARP's associate research director, said the state of
American grandparenting was strong.
"Most grandparents see their grandchildren regularly and connect in a
number of ways," she said. "The relationship is a rewarding one."
What you refer to as "post-game
analysis", my husband and I refer to as "Missed Opportunities." In our
classes, we tell our students that now that they've entered into the
relationship and skills training, they can kiss the cliche "Ignorance is
Bliss" good-bye. We encourage them to track their relationship after the
workshop by noting what successes are they having (skills use and it's
of effect) and those missed opportunities (skills not used and wished
would have). WOW--does that help in increasing their commitment to the
relationship as well as to more frequently using what they learned. I've
for years to my PAIRS colleagues--THIS IS A MOVEMENT built not just on
behavior changing in relationships through skills--but more so on
people's perception's on the value of skills training in their lives.
Meg Haycraft, MSW
This response from Michele Weiner-Davis:
Thanks for the letters!
Although I am not sure that I completely understand Alice's question:
>"I guess my question is how Michele's approach fits in with the concept of
>the couple's intimacy (not sexual, per se). I can see if each partner feels
>better about him/herself, she/he is more likely to want to be intimate (in
>whatever way), share; that "rings true."
> At the same time, I wonder if there is some other "by-product" from this
I'll take a stab at it.
Closeness comes in many ways. You can feel close to your partner when
truly feel he or she knows how you feel during a conversation. This
when couples practice active listening skills. But it can also happen
one partner sees the other trying hard to please him or her by changing
behavior. One style isn't any better than the other. When your partner
changes behavior, you can assume that s/he cares enough about you that
is willing to change, even if s/he doesn't agree with your point. To me,
that's an act of love...one that evokes a sense of intimacy.
I could retire if I received a dollar for each time I did the opposite of
what I teach couples to do! I am much, much better now at being
solution-oriented, but the road here is paved with lots of bumps. Trust
on this one. I teach couples about the bumps too and tell them that what
separates the winners from the losers is this:
Everyone gets off track once in a while. The winners quit the self-blame
stop feeling sorry for themselves and get right back on track quickly.
is true for individuals and relationships.
I love telling clients about the time when my wonderful daughter was a
high student...a tough time. One day, things weren't going well and
I started out calmly, I ended up ranting and raving around the house,
screaming at my daughter. Not a pretty sight. As I passed the bedroom
where my husband was watching t.v., he saw me in all my glory. He looked
at me in disbelief and said, "There she goes, world-renowned
Get the point? We're human and we should be letting the people in our
courses know that no matter how skilled they become, they're going to get
wrong sometimes. Teach them how to get back on track. And then do our
to practice what we teach.
To Elizabeth Marquardt:
Be sure to see "Children of Divorce," a very powerful PBS
documentary made in 1997 of the impact of divorce on children. And also I
suggest you interview Judith Wallerstein on what she has observed in the
children of 60 families who divorced about 1970-1. She has interviewed
these children, many of whom were preschoolers at the time, every five
years for 25 years. Her conclusion is chilling:
"Adults get over divorce, but unlike adults, children's suffering
does not reach a peak at divorce. The impact increases ovre time,
throughout the first three decades of life and in all developmental
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