By now I’m sure you’ve heard about the NJ teen who is suing her parents for financial support. Talk about entitlement gone wild. This case caught my eye, mostly because I have two teens, one in college and one in high school. As parents they only things we owe our children are food, clothing, a roof over their heads, and love. Anything else is a blessing that they should feel grateful to receive. Gratitude is far from Rachel Canning’s mind.
Rachel Canning, it seems, comes from affluence. She lives in Morris County, NJ. The U.S. Census Bureau pegs its median income (per the 2010 census) at $67,681, per person, and median home value last year of $400,000, making it one of the wealthier counties in the nation. She goes to a private school, Morris Catholic High School, and had her own car, paid for by her parents. By all accounts she is a popular, pretty teen, an honor student and athlete. She also had a penchant for getting into trouble, both at home and in school. After her 18th birthday, she left the home and is now suing her parents for immediate financial support and to force them to pay for her college education.
Regardless of who did what, the basic facts come down to: Rachel is, in the words of the NJ Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), a “spoiled brat.” She didn’t want to follow the rules and wanted everything to be handed to her. Since her parents finally refused, she found others to enable her brattiness with this baseless lawsuit. And what about these other parents? Am I the only ones who want to smack these people? How about working with Rachel’s parents to help mend fences? Better yet, how about butting out? Great they took her in so she had a place to stay, but suing her parents? Really? The fact that adults would facilitate that kind of behavior and help drive a wedge in someone else’s family infuriates me.
In a move that actually shocked me and restored a bit of faith in the legal system, Judge Peter Bogaard denied Rachel’s request after the hearing yesterday. While the issue of the tuition money will be revisited, the Judge, Peter Bogaard, noted that her behavior over the last year, including school suspensions, drinking, losing her captaincy on the cheerleading squad and being kicked out of the campus ministry, make her parents claims very believable. He stated “What kind of parents would the Cannings be if they didn’t set down some strict rules?”
Indeed, what kind of parents would they be? The kind that end up with a “spoiled” brat with an inflated sense of entitlement? I wonder how often Rachel got everything she asked for? I wonder how often she got a “pass” on doing her chores? I wonder how often she was allowed to do as she pleased because she was pretty and popular? How often are kids these days made to actually work for what they want? How often are they taught that being a member of a family means you have rules to follow? That being a member of a family means contributing?
As I said, I have two teens. They are both honor students, one an athlete, the other a musician and artist. Both act like typical teens. They buck doing chores, want the latest and greatest electronics or a car handed to them. My children learned at an early age that they wouldn’t be handed everything they wanted. If they wanted something they had to work for it or go without. We have and enforce rules in our home too. Chores aren’t negotiable. If you’re part of a family you pitch in to help, like it or not. It was important to us as a family that our children learn that everyone contributes. There is no entitlement. Doing chores in the home isn’t abuse. Expecting respect isn’t abuse. A curfew isn’t abuse. Having a home with rules isn’t abuse. It’s called parenting and more people need to try it!
I know that this is just a symptom of a much bigger problem in this country. We have entirely too many people who believe that government “owes” them free healthcare, free contraception, free cell phones, a free college education and anything else their little heart’s desire. That someone else has to work and sacrifice their hard earned salaries to pay for it matters not, as long as it’s free for them. We have a president who talks about “income inequality” after spending his life attending elite private schools, Ivy League colleges and goes on 6, 7, 8 or more taxpayer funded vacations a year to the tune of millions and millions of dollars. Talk about entitlement gone wild!
Guess what? No one owes you anything. As a citizen of this country you are owed exactly nothing. Sure you have rights: free speech, freedom of worship, freedom of the press, to bear arms, to not incriminate yourself, etc. Nothing in those basic 10 Amendments guarantee you a right to free food, housing, post-secondary education, cell phones, healthcare or vacations. Nothing is free, someone always has to pay. It’s time that we, as parents, start teaching our kids that you are only entitled to what you earn through hard work, and that rights aren’t free, someone always has to pay.
Image: Courtesy of: http://dangerouslee.biz/2011/09/30/other-kids-have-problems-too/