March 11, 2014


By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

If you ask most parents, they will freely admit that they spoil their children. And if you ask more children, and if they answer honestly, they will admit that they are spoiled by their parents.
But that’s what parents do. We spoil our children. The vast majority of parents provide our children with far more than what is necessary. We buy them the latest clothes fashions. We buy them smartphones and laptops. We send them off to school in good vehicles. And we send them to camps to help them improve their sports, music and education.
As parents, we want the best that we can provide for our children. And if that means spending our hard-earned money to make their lives better, we try to do it.
Again, that’s what parents do.
But what should parents expect for their years of supporting their children. We want them to chip in around the house and do a few chores - like keep their rooms picked up, help with the meals or the dishes, help with lawn work and just be helpful. We want them to do their homework and get good grades in school. And we expect them to listen to us and respect our opinions when it comes to what is best for them.
In laying down rules and guidelines, as well as setting parameters for good behavior, parents are trying their best to help their children grow up to be responsible adults. Adults, who will hopefully be able to succeed in life.
But sometimes, things just don’t work out the way parents intend. And in some cases, a child decides they don’t have to follow the rules, and leave home and then turn around and sue their parents.
Sound strange. But that is exactly what played out recently in a New Jersey courtroom where Rachel Canning, an 18-year-old high school senior sued to force her parents to pay her $650 weekly child support and pay for her remaining high school tuition. And she also sought a court ruling that would have forced her parents to pay for her college education.
Canning’s parents argued that when she wouldn’t follow the family’s rules, keep a curfew, do a few household chores and end a relationship with a boy whom they parents didn’t approve of, Rachel moved out of the house.
It’s a parent’s worse nightmare. And it should probably be a child’s worse nightmare as well.
Fortunately, in this case, the judge has decided for the parents for now. But more importantly, the judge encouraged the parents and Rachel to seek counseling and to try to resolve their differences.
In this case, the judge’s action was absolutely correct.
But it does raise an interesting question. Just what do parents owe their children? Do parents owe their children tuition fees to attend a private high school? Or do they owe them a college education? Or how about a big screen TV, a new sports car, or even a trip around the world?
Just because a child wants something doesn’t mean that the parent has to provide it.
That is something that young Rachel should have grown to understand a long time ago. And it’s a lesson that every child needs to learn. There is a huge difference between thinking that you are entitled to receive whatever you want and having to work to receive something.