Viewpoint—Family values

The importance of values

As Gerald Culhane stated previously, the entrenched traditional arrangements of the past were Dad and babyintended to produce and did produce a continuous, stable, and secure environment for the rearing of children. He knew that the common sense and experience of our grandparents when they raised their families should be followed today— values, respect for others, and hard work are as important today as they were then.


“If society starts to delete any of these significant arrangements, or make a mere variable what had been a constant, the very first loser will be the children. Indeed it is easy to see that many of these arrangements have been weakened, actually deleted, or subjected to the intense attack of rampant individualism. More simply, those who variously argue “me first” do not include children since they, both in law and practicality, are always spoken for by another. In other words, it is a little late to talk about moving towards a “child centered” approach for issues arising from the raising of children since the fact is we have been moving away from that and dissolving the past arrangements that have ensured the same at breakneck speed for a number of years.

“It is in this sense and in this context that the opponents to the rights of children are to be found sitting on judicial benches, legislating family law “reform,” presumptuously claiming expertise on a mere showing of academic papers, or those loudly demanding further dissolution of traditional arrangements while talking about children, but thinking about themselves.

“Members of our association have encountered the most determined resistance simply putting forth themselves as ready to continue and preserve the useful function that grandparents generally have always performed in our society.

“They have encountered this in the emotionally exhausting, and financially draining nightmare of court process which uniformly functions in a Dickens-like atmosphere of total irrelevance to the issue of substance (which is usually. why can’t the kids continue to visit with, or benefit from, or live with the grandparents). They have encountered it in the implacable and machine like destructiveness of civil bureaucracy. In British Columbia, a 12 page statute dealing with procedures of child apprehension which we could understand, though we don’t like it, has been replaced by an incomprehensible 65-page statute whose general purpose seems to be to ensure that nobody but the bureaucracy will have any real idea what the procedures are. Behind the intricate, but nevertheless vague procedures, a civil bureaucracy operates on the guiding principle that the way to fix any family problem is further state intrusion.

“Our members have also encountered the disguised yet relentless hostility of any number of “experts” who produce instant opinions on the past, present and correct future for a family by denying its reality and treating its members as individuals. By this one extraordinary and destructive assumption, all that is “family” vanishes. What is left is merely a group of atomized individuals who can then be diced, sliced, and statistically sorted and “described” usually in demeaning terms (the MMP1). The opinions of these strange individuals then become reports to the courts, the court being unwilling to spend several weeks in its own tortuous processes to learn what a particular family is all about. The court will then use such reports to sort out the particular family concerns, with results that are predictably destructive.

“Our members have also encountered the hostility of those who are perhaps not so much opposed to family as they are desirous of advancing themselves. They do by claiming the benefits and protection that have been built into our society for the purpose of protection of the young. They will seek either to have the benefits themselves (though they are not engaged in that function) or to have them as an unreasonable “discrimination.”  This leads directly to absurd debates about what is discriminatory and what is not. The voice of a traditional grandparent, who simply wishes to see that some stability and continuity can be provided to a child who is being bounced through serial marriages or made a pawn to the confused personal hostilities of their separating parents is entirely lost in the cacophony—this me-first chanting.

Apart from the above experiences, our members have found that the extremely simple and traditional persuasion that they would like to offer is continually sidelined by the eruption of a succession of spectacles.”

Access to grandchildren

Gerald Culhane’s familiarity with the responses to the simple question asked by many grandparents: May I continue to have access to my grandchildren? comes through in this quote of his words. Mr. Culhane not only raised his grandchildren, he worked within the justice system. For  over 20 years, he voluntarily tried to help distressed families. I wonder how many sitting on the bench, or working within the justice centres, or even those who represent grandparents and parents—custodial and non-custodial—have the expertise and common sense evident in his words. What it comes down to in the end is very simple. The message was and remains crystal clear. Where there is no abuse, all children need a continual relationship with the parents and grandparents and family they love and who love them.