A Precious Bond~The Film
By Susan Adcox, About.com Guide
The most desperate pleas I have ever been privy to are those from grandparents who have been denied visitation with their grandchildren. It's painful to me to have so little hope to offer them. The documentary film, A Precious Bond, does offer some positive news for estranged grandparents, although the good stories are balanced with the less hopeful ones that I hear most often.
Background and Facts
A Precious Bond was created by Advocates for Grandparent Grandchild Connection (AFGGC), the non-profit group headed by Susan Hoffman, who successfully lobbied for changes in California's grandparent visitation laws. Hoffman started a grandparent support group in Corona del Mar, California. Most of the stories feature grandparents from that group.
Hoffman's earlier efforts on behalf of grandparents who have been denied visitation include two books. 2008's Grand Wishes is primarily an account of how Hoffman changed the law in California. A Precious Bond is a 2011 publication that gives grandparents extensive and detailed advice about avoiding estrangement and what to do if it happens anyway.
The film A Precious Bond is 39 minutes long. It is available for a donation of $2.99. It's well worth the price for anyone interested in grandparenting issues, as well as being a must-have for those grandparents who are being denied visitation.
Telling Their Stories
The film begins with scenes of grandparents and grandchildren doing things together. The musical background is "You Are My Sunshine," sung by children. These scenes are followed by a series of children saying why they love their grandparents and recounting all the things they do with them. It's a fitting opening for the poignant scenes to come, when estranged grandparents tell their stories.
The stories told by the grandparents have a common theme of pain, but they recount different outcomes, letting estranged grandparents know that there is more than one way for their story to end. One couple tells of giving up litigation because it became too painful but reconnecting with grandchildren through court-ordered family therapy. Another grandmother, who refers to learning "how to write letters and eat crow," finally received a response to one of her letters and has reconnected with her son's family. Another grandmother tells of having minimal visitation and being frustrated by her daughter's refusal to expand her access. Then, of course, there are the grandparents whose efforts have been unsuccessful but who vow to keep trying.
Experts Weigh In
A third section of the film contains footage from a conference held in 2011. Speakers include psychotherapist Dr. Lillian Carson, who has written extensively about grandparenting. Dr. Carson discusses the importance of children having "a loving adult in their lives who believes in them." A grandparent, she suggests, can be that adult and can take on the role of bolstering a child's self-esteem, which she compares to a bucket that constantly needs refilling. Attorney Sheryl Edgar discusses the role of litigation but begins by saying, "The less court time you all do, the better off you all are." She discusses the concept of "parental authority" and says that she would not take a case to court unless grandparents have tried lots of alternatives, because grandparents who sue to see their grandchildren when it's not necessary are "blowing their college fund."