What's a parent to do if your child takes you to court to have a grounding overturned?
|By JENNIFER MCGUIRE
Sun, July 6, 2008
Until that point, whenever I said "No!" or "Don't touch!" he would just giggle and, well, he looked so adorable I found myself laughing along with him.
I wasn't worried. As long as I watched him all day
every day and never left him alone - as I assumed all
"good" mothers must do - he would be perfectly safe. (I
can hear all you well-seasoned moms guffawing at my
Of course, one afternoon I did turn my back on the boy for just a second and he ran into the road. And, naturally, when I screamed 'Callum - no!', he didn't react one bit. He ran in front of a pick-up truck that missed him by about two hairs.
I learned two vital lessons: You can't always have
both eyes trained on your children and there is
something to be said for scaring the hell out of them
every once in a while because sometimes their fear of
you, and your wrath, is all that keeps them safe in this
I pulled him off the road - pretty roughly, I recall - and screamed gibberish for about two minutes. Crying myself, I was hugging him and shaking him in equal measures. Probably not what the parenting experts would suggest I do, but if I had taken the time to consult with an expert, I assume he would be a goner.
Luckily, Callum was 10 years too young to call his lawyer and start proceedings against me.
Recently, a Quebec court ruled that a father didn't have the right to discipline his 12-year-old daughter after she ignored the house rules or boundaries he set for what he believed to be her own protection. Apparently, the girl had been acting inappropriately online (don't you just hate the damned Internet sometimes? I mean, in relation to your kids that is. Not for us, obviously ...)
She ignored her dad's orders to not chat on websites he tried to block and avoided his ban on the Internet by heading to a friend's house. Her punishment? She couldn't go on a field trip with her class celebrating their graduation from elementary school.
So she proceeded to take her father to court to have the grounding overturned.
Does anyone else feel as though they are sliding down one hell of a slippery slope here? I mean, take my first incident with discipline for example. I dealt with it terribly, obviously. Inexperience, fear, all of those feelings come together and colour the way we deal - not only with our kids, but with everyone.
In the long run, no harm came to Callum. He's relatively normal, doesn't flinch when I approach him unexpectedly and most importantly, usually doesn't run out in to traffic without looking both ways first.
But if he had been able to take me to court and have my rant overturned ...
From a societal point of view, how much intervention are we willing to condone? Because all I ever hear about on the streets lately is that parents are letting their children get away with too much, that there is no structure and no discipline.
LAY THE LAW DOWN
We are raising a generation of thumb suckers that have made shows like Supernanny and Nanny 911 so popular.
Now enter a dad who takes responsibility for his child, who says, "Look, I don't care what the rest of your friends are doing, you aren't behaving this way and that's that!" And what do we do? Tell him he can't discipline his child. What's next? Children taking us to court for packing bologna sandwiches for lunch too many times or telling them they can't watch The Simpsons?
The worst crime of all, of course, is to demean a parent's authority.
And I have to tell you - it scares the heck out of me because Callum is grounded this week.
Walking around the house, hanging his head in shame, counting down the days to freedom (as am I - two left!) We both feel a measure of safety in the knowledge that I do, most times, know best.
So please, no one let him in on this whole "take your parents to court" trend!
Question for our readers: What do you think of this
girl taking her dad to court and what do you see in
their future - how in the heck are they supposed to sit
around the dinner table after this one?
Commentary by the Ottawa Men's Centre in the Toronto Star