I am shocked and outraged by the story from New Jersey of 18 year old Rachel Canning suing her parents for financial support. I am ashamed of Tanya Helfand for accepting this lawsuit, and completely ashamed of John Inglesino for agreeing to pay for Rachel’s attorney’s fees. I truly feel for Judge Peter Bogaard who has to interpret the law appropriately but also attempt to protect parents’ rights. It is hard enough to raise our children these days, but to have parents and attorney’s encourage a teenager to sue her parents is outrageous.
The old proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” definitely seems to be a phrase that few people embrace these days. Mr. Inglesino indicated he made an attempt to communicate with Mr. Canning about paying for Rachel’s expenses but wasn’t able to. According to news reports he is an attorney so it seems that it was easy for him to just turn to the legal system. No matter what the outcome of this lawsuit, teens will feel empowered to push back against their parents. To me it says if I don’t like my parents’ rules I will threaten to take them to court.
When my husband and I got married it was shortly before my stepdaughters 18th birthday. Blending families is never an easy thing and she did not take my invasion on her family well. Once she turned 18 a very common phrase out of her mouth was “I’m 18 you can’t do anything,” she figured that now that she was the age of majority she no longer had to follow our house rules. Eventually she decided that the rules in our home were too strict so she moved to her mother’s home. Although we don’t know what the rules were at her mother’s house social media and school reports provided us a glimpse into the huge difference of expectations. Once she graduated from high school it seems that her mother’s rules became too much and she chose to live with a friend that supported her financially as well as showered her with gifts of vacations and tattoos. After months of hearing from my stepdaughter that she was 18 and we have no say in her life I can’t even imagine how angry I would be if she were allowed to file a similar lawsuit.
It seems that we have lost the ability to respect each other. When Rachel initially was leaving her parents’ home there was reports that there may have been an abusive situation. The Division of Child Protection and Permanency did an investigation and “found nothing amiss, determined that Rachel was “spoiled” and discontinued the investigation.” Although I don’t know how Mr. Inglesino attempted to contact Mr. Canning, I find it hard to comprehend that a man that is an attorney couldn’t respect a father and simply knock on the door and try to sit down and understand the family rules. We live in a country where we are supposed to embrace differences, yet a simple difference in family expectations causes families to end up in court.
Teenagers are demanding to be recognized as adults, but are still in need of the structure family provides and parents need to help each other maintain that structure, not work against each other as these two families seem to be. Raising children is a huge challenge. From the time they are toddlers we try to teach our children, respect, kindness, love, the list goes on. Yet it seems that as we have aged we have lost these simple basic attributes, instead we turn to rage or the legal system to resolve our differences. In my opinion as a society it has become abundantly important as adults we need to reteach ourselves the lessons we want our toddlers to embrace. We must respect each other.