Two sides to grandparents' visitation 'rights'

Regarding your editorial "Grandparents as litigants" (Jan. 12): We, too, lost a son, who left a wife and young son. Through the time since his death, we have had to bite our tongues many times in dealing with our daughter-in-law simply so we could maintain our relationship with our grandson. She has remarried, and we just found out that the new stepdad has adopted our grandson.

We have no problem with this. What really worries us is that we didn't know anything about this action until it was all done. We were assured that we will always have a relationship with our grandson, but let's face it, verbal or written assurances aren't worth the paper they're written on.

Only by hanging on to the thin thread between us and our daughter-in-law do we get to see our grandson at all. We realize that she can end all visits at any time for whatever reason she chooses.

If the current case in the Supreme Court is thrown out, our chances of maintaining our relationship with our grandson become really tenuous. This strikes me as terribly unfair. We've already lost a son. Do we have to lose his son too?

Mary Lou Nisbett Brighton, Mich.

Thank you for presenting both sides of the issue in your articles "Parents' rights vs. grandparents' visitations" and "Who has the right to visit a child?" (Jan. 12). Many of the media are presenting poor, helpless grandparents as the victims because they are unable to have a weekend alone with their grandchildren. If grandparents were also good parents and had a good relationship with their children, they would have lots of family gatherings and quality time with their grandchildren, because the parent would want them to be around their children. But not all grandparents are as loving and apple-pie-baking as they seem on TV.

As a mother being sued by my own mother and father for grandparent visitation, I cannot stress the harm it does to families involved in this type of litigation. I believe the emotional and financial harm it causes the families and the children is far greater than the grief it causes grandparents who don't see the grandchild as often as they would like.

It would have been much easier to work this out without the courts. We had no idea there was a serious problem with this until we were served with court papers. As a result, my husband and I (both college students) had to drop out of school last year to work fulltime to pay for legal fees. That is the easy part; we are back at school now, but we are so behind in our finances and have to tell our teenage son "No, we don't have the money for that," all the time. After all, money isn't the most important thing. It is extremely hard to have to answer questions he has such as, "What if I don't go visit? Will they put you in jail?" or, "Why are they doing this?" It really saddens me that he is bitter and has anger in his heart.

Lynn Gonzalez Grand Forks, N.D.

The first 'green' vehicle

I enjoyed your article "First fleet of 'green' cars about to hit the road" (Jan. 11). Of course, such vehicles exist now, consuming no petroleum, emitting no pollutants, creating no noise, and requiring minimal maintenance. They are called bicycles.

For urban and suburban commuting bicycles are at least as practical as using a 5,000-pound, $40,000 truck to drop off shirts at the dry cleaners or return a videotape. And with intelligent road planning and motorist education, they are immensely preferable.

Bob Foster St. Louis, Mo.

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