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What is an “Intact” Family?

In the past, the legal system defined a family as “intact” if both parents were married and living together. But can a family with no grandparental involvement truly be classified as “intact?’  The concept that an “intact” family consists solely of Mom, Dad and the kids flies in the face of biological, psychological, social and spiritual directives. In fact, a family that excludes grandparents is not intact at all. A family with living, but exiled grandparents is a dismembered, suffering family that turns grandchildren into grandorphans.

The modern “intact” family concept is destructive when it comes to healing family conflicts and problems. The “intact” family concept is divisive, separating family members into “them” and “us.”  This type of “intact” family looks at their problems as “we” problems, depriving themselves of the beneficial support that extended family members can provide.

Furthermore, the “intactness” of a marriage is absolutely no indicator of the health of a marriage, nor its noxiousness to a child. Most parents are caring and loving, but those who are abusive and destructive can hide behind the “intact” doctrine to conceal their wrongdoing from the law, grandparents and other extended family. The “intactness” of a family doesn’t necessarily mean it functions well or that the children are being cared for.

All kinds of mayhem occur in “intact” families, from normal conflicts and problems to life-threatening situations. The duality inherent in this separatist idea destroys family unity. Temporary parent-grandparent problems can become major, permanent feuds. Cut and dried legal doctrine has a way of making permanent problems out of temporary conflicts.

The concept of an “intact” family does not reflect the realities of family life and human relationships. Parents especially need to be protected from their impulsive decisions and actions. To date, grandparent visitation laws have prevented a great deal of family carnage by stating that grandparents are a part of the family constellation. There is a need for children to have access to their grandparents. In the long run this has been helpful to parents who are forced to deal effectively with grandparents rather than running away from the issues and perpetuating their own pain.

Our laws should reflect a different attitude. They should say that intergenerational families should be together. Despite their conflicts, family members need to learn to live together. It shows children that family problems should be worked out, not run away from. Society needs to opt for healing and union of the family, instead of divisive laws and policies.

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  1. Carole Theiley November 10th, 2016

    We have spent the last six years being with our grandchildren. We were the sole babysitters and as much as we adored our grandchildren they loved us also. My granddaughter used to beg me to stay. My daughter had decided to stop us from seeing the children because I I said that although I would love to babysit I did not want to stay overnight at her house. I had in fact just got back from the UK after being with my dying father and family. She then took the children for a sleep over with her abusive father. Something we were never allowed to do. My daughter had been making life difficult for some time and when I look back she and her husband had been bullying us and making us jump to her rules for some time beforehand. I know I maybe made some mistakes as a mother in the past but I had to manage an abusive relationship with her natural father as well as finally handling being a single mum. I have however always been a good grandmother and my daughter had said that herself. Now I am so depressed. My daughter does not talk to me at all and my life is just terrible without the children. As we head towards Christmas I just want to hide until it’s over. It’s just too painful

  2. Lynn Pelton March 26th, 2017

    My son and and his girlfriend had a baby together. They did not marry each other. I was thrown out of my son’s house. The mother remarried. I can see my grand daughter at her house ONLY! I can not have her by myself. She says I am welcome to visit at her home. I don’t know her very well, and I don’t not feel comfortable at her house. She and her husband live in HIS parents house and they have a baby together. How will I ever have a good relationship with my grand daughter?Neither will let her visit at MY house!

    • Constance Murray April 20th, 2017

      Your very blessed to have any access at all. Stop whining and count your blessings and thank God you get to spend time with your granddaughter and cherish every moment!✌️


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