Grandparents Without Access Ontario looks to restore family bonds

Community Jan 12, 2018 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Cecile Callen knows exactly how it feels when grandparents lose contact with their grandchildren.

She also knows she’s not alone. Callen estimates more than 100,000 grandparents across the province are facing a similar situation, barred from seeing their grandchildren following a messy divorce or family disagreement.

It’s a situation she calls a pandemic.

Callen has been alienated from her family for more than 30 years, following a high-conflict divorce. While she’s able to visit occasionally with five of her grandchildren, she also has two other grandchildren she hasn’t seen in six years.

“You feel like an outsider, when the family’s doing things around you,” said Callen. “You’re not included.”

About five years ago, Callen, 71, was involved with an Alienated Grandparents Anonymous (AGA) group in the Burlington area, helping grandparents hoping to unlock access barriers.

Closer to her home in Stoney Creek, Callen is now involved as a facilitator with Grandparents Without Access Ontario, a similar support group. Grandparents Without Access uses a slightly different approach compared to AGA. Part of the group’s mandate is to guide participants through the recent amendment to Ontario’s Bill 34, the Children’s Law Reform Act. A 2016 amendment offers grandparents a chance to make a legal argument for access to their grandchildren during custody disputes.

While the revamped Bill 34 introduces two sections aimed at strengthening the rights of grandparents, Callen said court is often not the best option.

“The court system is too adversarial and highly costly,” she said, pointing out it’s not uncommon to see grandparents spending up to $100,000 in legal fees.

Grandparents Without Access is a monthly support group that meets on Thursday evenings at the Stoney Creek Municipal Service Centre, also known as the former Stoney Creek city hall, at 777 Hwy. 8 in the Saltfleet room.

Apart from the court system, Callen said grandparents can attempt to restore broken lines of communication between their children and in-laws.

“The ultimate cause, it would seem, is lack of communication with the adult child, or in-law,” said Callen. “The most important part of the group support is to help grandparents support each other and then learn something new.”

Recent meetings have focused on topics such as coping skills for the holiday season and communicating with daughters-in-law.

“The most important thing is to learn how to cope with this, how to deal with this, and how to overcome it,” said Callen.

So far, only a handful of guests have attended the Stoney Creek group meetings, but Callen is hoping that, with increased exposure, future sessions will draw more participants.

The next meeting is Feb. 8, from 7-9 p.m.

For more information on Grandparents Without Access Ontario, email Callen at cecilecallen@gmail.com or call 905-537-6653.

Grandparents Without Access Ontario looks to restore family bonds

Monthly meetings held in Stoney Creek

Community Jan 12, 2018 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Cecile Callen knows exactly how it feels when grandparents lose contact with their grandchildren.

She also knows she’s not alone. Callen estimates more than 100,000 grandparents across the province are facing a similar situation, barred from seeing their grandchildren following a messy divorce or family disagreement.

It’s a situation she calls a pandemic.

Callen has been alienated from her family for more than 30 years, following a high-conflict divorce. While she’s able to visit occasionally with five of her grandchildren, she also has two other grandchildren she hasn’t seen in six years.

“You feel like an outsider, when the family’s doing things around you,” said Callen. “You’re not included.”

About five years ago, Callen, 71, was involved with an Alienated Grandparents Anonymous (AGA) group in the Burlington area, helping grandparents hoping to unlock access barriers.

Closer to her home in Stoney Creek, Callen is now involved as a facilitator with Grandparents Without Access Ontario, a similar support group. Grandparents Without Access uses a slightly different approach compared to AGA. Part of the group’s mandate is to guide participants through the recent amendment to Ontario’s Bill 34, the Children’s Law Reform Act. A 2016 amendment offers grandparents a chance to make a legal argument for access to their grandchildren during custody disputes.

While the revamped Bill 34 introduces two sections aimed at strengthening the rights of grandparents, Callen said court is often not the best option.

“The court system is too adversarial and highly costly,” she said, pointing out it’s not uncommon to see grandparents spending up to $100,000 in legal fees.

Grandparents Without Access is a monthly support group that meets on Thursday evenings at the Stoney Creek Municipal Service Centre, also known as the former Stoney Creek city hall, at 777 Hwy. 8 in the Saltfleet room.

Apart from the court system, Callen said grandparents can attempt to restore broken lines of communication between their children and in-laws.

“The ultimate cause, it would seem, is lack of communication with the adult child, or in-law,” said Callen. “The most important part of the group support is to help grandparents support each other and then learn something new.”

Recent meetings have focused on topics such as coping skills for the holiday season and communicating with daughters-in-law.

“The most important thing is to learn how to cope with this, how to deal with this, and how to overcome it,” said Callen.

So far, only a handful of guests have attended the Stoney Creek group meetings, but Callen is hoping that, with increased exposure, future sessions will draw more participants.

The next meeting is Feb. 8, from 7-9 p.m.

For more information on Grandparents Without Access Ontario, email Callen at cecilecallen@gmail.com or call 905-537-6653.

Grandparents Without Access Ontario looks to restore family bonds

Monthly meetings held in Stoney Creek

Community Jan 12, 2018 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Cecile Callen knows exactly how it feels when grandparents lose contact with their grandchildren.

She also knows she’s not alone. Callen estimates more than 100,000 grandparents across the province are facing a similar situation, barred from seeing their grandchildren following a messy divorce or family disagreement.

It’s a situation she calls a pandemic.

Callen has been alienated from her family for more than 30 years, following a high-conflict divorce. While she’s able to visit occasionally with five of her grandchildren, she also has two other grandchildren she hasn’t seen in six years.

“You feel like an outsider, when the family’s doing things around you,” said Callen. “You’re not included.”

About five years ago, Callen, 71, was involved with an Alienated Grandparents Anonymous (AGA) group in the Burlington area, helping grandparents hoping to unlock access barriers.

Closer to her home in Stoney Creek, Callen is now involved as a facilitator with Grandparents Without Access Ontario, a similar support group. Grandparents Without Access uses a slightly different approach compared to AGA. Part of the group’s mandate is to guide participants through the recent amendment to Ontario’s Bill 34, the Children’s Law Reform Act. A 2016 amendment offers grandparents a chance to make a legal argument for access to their grandchildren during custody disputes.

While the revamped Bill 34 introduces two sections aimed at strengthening the rights of grandparents, Callen said court is often not the best option.

“The court system is too adversarial and highly costly,” she said, pointing out it’s not uncommon to see grandparents spending up to $100,000 in legal fees.

Grandparents Without Access is a monthly support group that meets on Thursday evenings at the Stoney Creek Municipal Service Centre, also known as the former Stoney Creek city hall, at 777 Hwy. 8 in the Saltfleet room.

Apart from the court system, Callen said grandparents can attempt to restore broken lines of communication between their children and in-laws.

“The ultimate cause, it would seem, is lack of communication with the adult child, or in-law,” said Callen. “The most important part of the group support is to help grandparents support each other and then learn something new.”

Recent meetings have focused on topics such as coping skills for the holiday season and communicating with daughters-in-law.

“The most important thing is to learn how to cope with this, how to deal with this, and how to overcome it,” said Callen.

So far, only a handful of guests have attended the Stoney Creek group meetings, but Callen is hoping that, with increased exposure, future sessions will draw more participants.

The next meeting is Feb. 8, from 7-9 p.m.

For more information on Grandparents Without Access Ontario, email Callen at cecilecallen@gmail.com or call 905-537-6653.