Father knows best. Mother does too. And according to the Supreme Court, grandparents can have an opinion, but they should really just keep it to themselves.
In the state of Washington, there is a law that permits "any person" to petition for visitation rights at any time, and authorizes state superior courts to grant such rights whenever visitation may serve a child's best interest.
This law has been the bane of Tommie Granville's life. Tommie is the mother of two girls. She is also a single parent, though not by choice. You see, Brad Troxel, the girls' father, committed suicide in 1993.
So while doing her best to keep her family together, Tommie's mother-in-law, Jenifer Troxel, decided to butt her nose into the family's business.
Grandma Jenifer was told that she and her husband could occasionally visit with the girls. But that wasn't enough for Grandma. She demanded that the girls come and stay overnight for two weekends a month. When Tommie told her no, Grandma took her to court.
So in the process of grieving and solely raising her daughters, Tommie now had to add the costs of lawyers to her tight family budget, just to appease one old lady who didn't get her way.
This battle has gone on for seven long years. It is finally over.
On June 5, the Supreme Court declared that parents have a "fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care, custody and control" of their children. Grandparents don't.
We all think of grandmothers as kindly old ladies, who offer warm hugs and freshly baked lemon cookies. These matrons are supposed to be filled with love and wisdom, and have the best intentions for their family at heart.
In the real world, this is not always the case. Grandmothers can fit the above description, sure, but these women can also be manipulative, bitter, wretched creatures who want to rule their families like despots.
Others, like Jenifer Troxel, simply need to realize that they are grandparents. Their duties and responsibilities ended when their children grew up. They may certainly care for their children and grandchildren. But now they must also adhere to the rules and decisions of their children. Even if they don't like 'em.
The American family is constantly changing. Yet it can only continue to thrive if left to its own devices. As long as their kids are being treated well, parents should be afforded privacy and control in their own homes.
Tommie doesn't abuse her children. She's not an unfit parent. She adequately cares and provides for her children. Tommie even agreed to allow her daughters to see their grandparents, just not for two overnight visits a month. In her mind, that was excessive. As the parent, that should have been enough.