When selling a home, it can seem like a no-brainer to choose a real-estate agent who also happens to be the owner’s child. By hiring their child to market a pricey home, parents can boost their child’s career and provide financial help in the form of a hefty commission. But agents caution that selling a parent’s home requires

Should parents let grandparents see their children when the grandparents abused the parent as a child?

I was asked this same question after a training session on child abuse that I delivered a few years ago. The woman who asked me this question was physically and sexually abused by her father when she was a child. She told me that the abuser was now old and had only a few months left to live had sent her a message that he would like to see his grandchildren (her children). She asked me what she should do? Should she allow her children to visit this man? She told me that her sister (who wasn’t abused by him but knew of it) had allowed him to see her children. The sister had said that believed that she should also allow her children to visit their grandfather because it was all a long time ago and he is now sorry for what happened.

My advice to her was based on the core principle of the 1989 Children Act which says “the welfare of the child is paramount”. So our first consideration should not be the old mans feelings, or even the feelings of her the victim, or her sister, but the children’s welfare and also the welfare of her sisters children.

I asked her this question. “How old are the children that he wants to see? Are they five or twenty five? Despite being an old man if he abused you as a child, it is likely that he could abuse other children too. If he has unsupervised access to her sisters children, then they may be at risk and she should report that risk to Social Services”. Abusers often “groom the environment”. That is as well as groom the child to make them think that they have a special relationship, they also make the people around them think they are kind, friendly people.

She answered that her sister’s children were in their late teens and early twenties but her children were a little younger; 14 and 18. She also said that she had reported the original abuse to the police but there was insufficient evidence to bring charges at the time.

My next answer was that if she was satisfied that no children (her and her sisters) were not at any risk as a result of the contact with their grandfather, then the next principle that should apply is Article 12 on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This says that children’s views should be taken into considerations when adults make decisions about them. So I suggested that she should allow her children to decide if they wanted to visit their grandfather. However she should tell them the reasons why they had never previously visited this man. She should explain in a way that was appropriate to their age that this man had abused her as a child. Her children might be resentful if their grandfather died and she had prevented them from seeing him. However the grandfather should not be allowed to pretend to his grandchildren that he was something that he was not. Adopted children are often very curious about their origins and want to find out for themselves rather than take somebody else’s word about what their birth parents were like.

I asked her this question “Do you trust your children?” The woman replied that she did – then my advice was to give her children the truth and let them make the decision for themselves and in the long run that would turn out for the best.