When members of the military are deployed, their families suffer. Grandparents suffer as well, knowing that a child may be in harm's way. Some grandparents become surrogate parents, rearing their grandchildren in the absence of a parent or parents. Other grandparents face a different test. Instead of having custody of grandchildren, they may be cut off from seeing them. Recently a reader -- I'll call her Gloria -- described her situation. When Gloria's son is deployed, the daughter-in-law and her toddler daughter live with her mother, who happens to live near Gloria. In spite of her proximity, the daughter-in-law resists bringing the little girl to visit Gloria and her husband, the other grandparents. "We want to do so much for her, but we are being pushed away every time," Gloria writes.
The legal system generally assumes that grandparents will access grandchildren through their child who is the parent. In cases where this doesn't work -- death, divorce, incarceration, etc. -- the grandparents may have visitation rights. In the case of deployed divorced parents, their visitation rights can sometimes be assigned to grandparents or other relatives. But in cases such as Gloria's, when marriages are intact, the grandparents are on shaky legal ground.
I've never been a military wife or grandparent, so I have no advice for Gloria. If you have helpful information or insights, please leave a comment below.