If you have endured the heartbreak of becoming estranged from grandchildren, you may benefit from a support group. Such groups can provide practical advice and also offer help in dealing with the complex mix of emotions that most estranged grandparents experience.
Comfort and encouragement can be found in various places. Support groups that meet face-to-face may be the gold standard, but they are becoming less common than online groups.
And online groups have some advantages of their own. Of course, if you don't find a group to your liking, you could start your own grandparent support group.
The Big Three
Three organizations have offered support for alienated grandparents for several years. Each has its largest presence in one state, and each offers some online support as well as actual meetings.Some also have established Facebook pages, but most of these do not appear to be regularly maintained.
- Alienated Grandparents Anonymous, Inc., is headquartered in Naples, Florida. It was founded in 2011 and received non-profit status in 2012. The website states that the organization is active in 50 states and 12 countries. The website contains information about locating an AGA support group and about starting an AGA-affiliated support group. The website also contains useful information, especially about Grandparent Alienation Syndrome.
- Grandparents' Rights of Washington State is an organization of "loving grandparents" seeking visitation with their grandchildren. In addition to being a support group, GROWS works for legislation that will "provide legal recourse" for grandparents who have been denied contact with their grandchildren. The website shows a meeting location of Fife, Washington, but additional contacts are listed in other parts of Washington.
- Advocates for Grandparent Grandchild Connection (AFGGC), is affiliated with several support groups. The group that has been meeting for the longest meets in California in Corona Del Mar and is led by Susan Hoffman, author of Precious Bond and Grand Wishes, books for estranged grandparents. The AFGGC website also lists support groups meeting in Sacramento, Spokane and Penn Hills, Pennsylvania.
Information About Estrangement From Adult Children
Of course, estrangement from grandchildren begins with estrangement from the parents of those grandchildren. Dr. Joshua Coleman is a psychologist who has written extensively on family estrangement. On his website, you can find information of interest and connect with others who are estranged from adult children. Click on the Forum tab to find discussion groups. Estranged Stories is another place to share experiences. You must be a member to participate. Daily Strength operates a community for those estranged from adult children.
Support From Major Organizations
Organizations that cater to older adults often feature articles about grandparenting. They may even have information about grandparent estrangement, but these may not be separately indexed and may be hard to find.
Grandparents.com has some information about grandparents' rights. It also offers paid memberships to the American Grandparents Association that give you access to its online community. AARP has articles of interest and also a very active online community, although I didn't find any groups set up for estranged grandparents.
In the UK, Grandparents Plus offers information for no-contact grandparents as well as a support network and information about support groups in various regions.
Blogs and Social Media Groups
It is also possible to find support from bloggers and social media groups. These resources tend to be fluid, however, and broken links and dead ends are common. Also remember that basically no one is vetting bloggers and social media participants to make sure that they are who they claim to be.
See more cautions below.
Exercise Caution Online and Everywhere
Do not let your emotional turmoil override your good sense. Do not share personal data such as last names, phone numbers or addresses with any individuals that you meet online. Do not send money to any individual, and do not send money to an organization unless you are sure you are not being scammed. (Learn how to check out charitable organizations.)
Support groups can be great sources of comfort, encouragement and information, but be careful about taking individuals into your confidence. In many so-called support groups, especially online versions, embittered individuals vent their anger and spread their negativity. Although it is good to know that you are not alone in your suffering, beware of those who have nothing constructive to offer.