Wednesday, March 05, 2014

An Open Letter to Rachel Canning (Who I know nothing about, except what I saw in the news and could glean from her Facebook page.)

All day I've been chuckling over the news story of the eighteen year old New Jersey high school student suing her parents for support.

Have a YouTube:

Dear Rachel,
I apologize for chuckling, but I laugh because, oh girly, you don't know how good ya had it.

...and you don't know how good you're about to have it.

Because when you are eighteen years old, you've graduated high school, you've got a job, you're living on your own, and you're paying your own way, you can make all your own choices and do exactly as you like.

That's the gift your parents have given you and the gift Judge Peter Bogaard has given you.  The opportunity to make it on your own steam.  The opportunity to know exactly what you are capable of.  The opportunity to find value in what you've worked for.  The opportunity to take responsibility for and learn from the consequences of your own mistakes.

That makes you one lucky young woman.  You can take that and run.

As a parent of a kid just older than you are, a kid just younger than you are (who I would have named Rachel had he been a girl), and a kid a decade behind you, I can't say that your family life and rules were much different than in my house, not that my telling you so would make you feel any better this evening.

...Well except that I didn't provide my oldest with a car, because he didn't meet the line we'd drawn as parents to earn that privilege.  Had he met that line, he would have had to pay for his own gas and his own car insurance.  My other kids won't find the car rules any different.  Otherwise, their legs aren't painted on.

We don't provide our kids with cell phones unless they can demonstrate a need for them, and then if they do need them, they will have to find a way to earn money to pay for it, and there will still be parental controls in place.  Portable wifi-capable devices for kids aren't allowed in my home.  If they are minding their manners they can access all that on the desktop in the family room where I can monitor them.

We weren't going to finance a private school education because that money just wasn't in the bank.  Public school can be a great education if you work at it.  Likewise, we are limited in funding extracurricular activities and school social functions, both because it's not in the bank and because those extras and a social life are earned, not given.  Nor are we banking entire college educations because if they are responsible for half of it or more, it won't be a wasted experience.  Scholarships are much emphasized any way you can get them.  (Someday let me tell you about the whiny over-funded girl I stared down in one of my college classes.  Her sense of entitlement was outrageous.)

We wouldn't allow our kids to continue in those extracurricular activities at all, despite great grades and scholarship offers, if they had been caught drinking under age or had ever been suspended from school.  Even if their cheer leading squad had earned a spot at nationals.  In my house that's serious and won't be tolerated.  If there is any drug use at all I'm going to be the first one to call the authorities.

We scrutinize and judge the kids my kids hang out with and my kids know it.  If we have to limit time with those kids, friends or romantic interests, we will, because that is our job and our right.  Again, a social life is earned, not given.

While in my home, even if my kids are living with us at age 35 which I hope they are not unless it was an emergency, they will still have to be polite, be orderly, be a contributor to the household, and let us know how late they will be when they are out.  When they are under eighteen these are rules meant to help them develop into considerate adults and to keep them safe.  When they are over eighteen these are expected because I will have raised considerate adults.

With all this I remind my kids exactly what I said above...when you're 18, job, paying your own bills, yada yada, do what you like.  I'm serious about that too.  If they want to ride the roller coaster with the rest of the grownups, I won't stop them from that point on, with all the fun grownup stuff that entails.

I'm told that my kids will hate me and my husband for our house rules.  That's okay.  I comfort myself with the fact that neurologically it won't last.  You see, the last parts of the brain to develop in young adulthood are those governing decision making and impulse control.  (Those are the same bits that make the terrible twos such a laugh riot until the kid is four years old.)   When they get older they will be able to see why I laid down the law.  By the time they have teenagers of their own they'll see it clearer than ever. 
Hopefully, and before you've done too much damage, you'll understand more of why you're parents demanded of you what they demanded of you...and I say that knowing that I have no experience with your family life and I live clear across the country in Podunkville.  From the looks of things clear over here your life has been blessed and what you've been asked to give has not been at all unreasonable.

The path you've chosen is not an easy one.  Choose it you did and you are entitled to exactly what adulthood is.
It will make you into a better woman.  Woman.  Not the girl you are now.  Count on it. 

(Ask me how I know.)

1 comment:

  1. I wish more parents thought like you do!!!! Hard-ass parents, UNITE!!


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