Should we pay for our kids if they move out & refuse our rules?
As a mom of two teens, I am fascinated by the case in the news about Rachel Canning, the 18-year-old student who is suing her family for financial support, after she says she was "forced out" from her home because she didn't want to obey her parents' rules. The case is receiving international media attention and I can totally understand why. I am sure that every mom who has raised teenagers can relate! Canning, a senior at a private Catholic high school in Denville, New Jersey, reminds me of my own daughter and so many other "typical" suburban teens.
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According to court documents, disputes with her parents over alcohol, curfew and her boyfriend were taken to extremes. These seem so characteristic of the types of arguments that I would have with my daughter during her junior and senior years in high school. Our constant disagreements nearly killed me!
My daughter is 18 now and goes away to college, but when she's home she still has to accept our rules. I can only imagine what this is doing to the Canning family as their intimate discussions are being played out in court and in the public eye! My heart ached as I watched the mom, Elizabeth, on TV wipe her tears as she sat in court. Her daughter is demanding that her parents pay her bills even though she doesn't want to live at home. She is living with her best friend's family and has already received acceptance letters from universities.
I do think that Rachel's parents' conditions were a bit extreme. Her parents, the daughter claims, were verbally abusive and even threatened to withdraw financial support if she didn't break up with her boyfriend. I am not justifying the parents' behavior, but I could see how they said things that were hurtful as they were filled with desperation. I've been there!
The judge presiding over this case denied the student's request to pay for the tuition owed to her high school, transportation expenses and to commit to a fund for college. However, he scheduled another hearing for April 22 to decide whether Rachel willingly chose to leave or whether her parents kicked her out of their home. New Jersey law requires parents who are capable of providing financial support to pay for college if their children are dependent on them and "within their sphere of parental influence." If the judge decides to rule in favor of the student, he would set a very dangerous precedent!
It's hard enough dealing with "typical" teenage issues. Imagine having to fear being sued for trying to have your kids abide by your rules that are really meant to protect them! Gracias a Dios I am done with that difficult stage with my daughter. Let's see what happens with my son!
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