This post is written in honour of my brother, Moon, who has just started his own blog. I just know how much this will bug him!
We are back in the Canadian court system, so you can be pretty sure something stupid, ridiculous or downright are-you-out-of-your-mind is going to come up. In this case, we have a 12 year old girl suing her father for punishing her. She disobeyed her father's rule and he punished her for it. She didn't think that was fair and so she took him to court. Now, the father did nothing that any normal, reasonable, sane, fair father would not have done. He didn't forbid her from wearing tartan trousers or from reading science fiction books. He didn't tell her that she had to eat suet and tripe sandwiches for lunch every day or that she must prostrate herself in front of a three horned devil god alter every time she had a bowel movement. No, the man was being a reasonable father, doing what he thought was best for his child. He laid down some rules about her internet use. As any decent parent might do, he blocked some unsuitable websites and when he found out that she had been visiting these websites and posting inappropriate pictures of herself to these websites from a friend's computer, he grounded her. No beatings, no starvation, no public humiliation, no torture, no lockings up in a small cupboard under the stairs. Oh no, just a simple grounding, just like any normal, responsible parent who needs to set limits and boundaries for their child.
Now, the grounding did have consequences - oh, yes, we are back to the consequences of our actions, and I suppose the young girl did not think that there would be any consequences to her disobeying her father's perfectly reasonable requests. So, the grounding took effect and this meant that the girl could no longer go on an end of year school trip that she had been looking forward to. Too bad, so sad.
Now, this is where things start going pear-shaped. The girl runs off to her mother, whining and complaining and the mother sides with the girl. Well, the parents are divorced and they have been fighting for custody of the girl for quite some time. Of course, the child is no innocent and is not stupid (very few children are) and has learnt to play one parent off the other. The mother wants to score points with her daughter and so supports her and says she can go on the school trip. Unfortunately for the girl, the school requires permission from both parents. So, off they go to court. The girl takes her father to the Quebec Superior Court and the mother supports her daughter. What a ridiculous, time and money wasting mess.
And the worst of it - the judge lifted the grounding, overturning her father's punishment, justifying this by saying that the punishment was too severe.
Can you believe this? How on earth can a parent be expected to bring up decent, well adjusted, law abiding, considerate, balanced individuals, who know right from wrong and understand that all of their actions have consequences, if they cannot set reasonable rules with acceptable punishments when those rules are broken? In my opinion, one of the biggest responsibilities of a parent is to set limits and boundaries for their child, so that their child can learn what is acceptable and what is not. Unfortunately, many parents these days seem to think that they should be their child's best friend. This means that they don't want to be "mean" to their children, they don't want to deny their children anything and everything that they want, they don't want to have to punish their child, since then their child may not like them. Well, damn it, that is part of their responsibility as a parent. It is not up to schools and teachers and society to do this for them so that they can be friends with their child. And it is certainly not up to the courts to interfere with how a parent chooses to set limits and reward or punish their child for staying within or straying beyond those limits. I for one don't want my tax money to be used to set a punishment for Jimmy when he doesn't do his homework.
Being a parent must be difficult enough, without worrying about your child taking you to court every time you try and punish them. So, whatever you do, don't let your children read this - it will give them ideas and you don't want that!
The father is, of course, appealing this decision.
Friday, 11 July 2008