In an unbelievable case of “Oh no she didn’t,” Rachel Canning, an 18-year-old New Jersey cheerleader with a whole slew of respect and behavior deficiencies, ran away from home and then went to court to force her parents to provide her with more than $600 a week in child support and pay her private school tuition, medical and related bills, college expenses and legal fees. Her wrath and entitlement campaign also accused her parents of kicking her out of the house and delivered allegations of child abuse and emotional abandonment.

Rachel, you still have a chance. Apologize to your family, go home, and learn from this. Consider doing a few volunteer hours with an organization that serves kids who have faced real abuse and neglect so you can understand what real hardship is.

- Kim Keller

Her claims were vigorously disputed by her parents, Sean and Elizabeth Canning, who cited the teen had a myriad of disciplinary problems that included suspensions from school, underage drinking, credit card theft, bullying siblings, breaking curfew and lying to the local child protection agency. The agency investigated the Canning family and found no evidence of abuse.

On Tuesday, March 4, Morris County Court Judge Peter Bogaard denied Rachel’s lawsuit with a judicial spanking and noted it would set a bad precedent by setting limits on parenting.
“Do we want to establish a precedent where parents live in basic fear of establishing rules of the house?" asked Bogaard.

No, Judge Bogaard, no! I can’t afford to have my teen daughter sue me because I took her phone away for talking back to me or I refuse to buy her a car. Your Honor, she’s on a discount plan that I pay for, and I can’t afford to fix the transmission on my car let alone buy her one AND hire an attorney!

The sulky teen was obviously unhappy with the decision, but it was a victory for responsible parenting.  It was also a slap in the face for children who face real abuse and abandonment. God bless Rachel’s lawyer friends for equating the consequences of narcissism and entitlement with abuse and neglect.

Where does a child find such lawyer friends? After leaving her parents’ home, Rachel bunked with her boyfriend for a few days and then moved in with her friend, Jaime Inglesino. Jaime’s father, John Inglesino, is an attorney who formerly served in county government.  He got the ball rolling by bankrolling fellow lawyer Tanya Helfand to fight on the maligned Rachel’s behalf. Guess what else he did? He included reimbursement for the legal fees he’s paid in the lawsuit.  You have to love it when an adult interferes with another family and then demands compensation for it.

You also have to love it when a lawyer slams a set of parents because they’re not caving in to a temper tantrum. "Normal, healthy people want to help their children," a misguided Ms. Helfand said. "The Cannings simply don’t want to pay. They want to strip their daughter of her opportunities."

She added the Cannings treated their daughter in an "abnormal" way that made it "untenable" for her to stay in the house. Oh, that poor child.

Perhaps Ms. Helfand is right. Parents enforcing rules has become a bit abnormal in today’s society, and it is horrifically indefensible for parents to enact consequences for bad behavior. Based on this lawsuit, it’s akin to child abuse and neglect.  How can we be so sadistic that we deny our children of opportunities?

Sorry, Mr. Inglesino and Ms. Helfand. That’s what good parents are supposed to do; failing to do so is abuse and neglect. They set rules and boundaries in hopes of preventing the creation of a generation of over-entitled narcissists, they enact consequences for bad behavior, and they recognize the opportunities that are available for their children, but they make them do part of the work to attain them. Good parents raise their children to become mature, self-sufficient, compassionate and hardworking adults, not eternally sulky adolescents.

Rachel, you still have a chance. Apologize to your family, go home, and learn from this. Consider doing a few volunteer hours with an organization that serves kids who have faced real abuse and neglect so you can understand what real hardship is. I also encourage you to count your blessings: many kids and their families live on less than $600 per month; most teens don’t have the benefit of a private school education; and many will pay for their own college tuition by working full time or taking out loans that mommy and daddy won’t repay.

Most of them also have parents who wouldn’t have tolerated your mess and would have jerked a knot in your tail a long time ago.
 

Kim Keller is a Latina public relations professional and the writer of the headline-making blog RoadkillGoldfish.com.

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