Friday, June 20, 2008

Another Court Takes Law Into Its Own Hands

In Canada, a judge's ruling recently undermined a father who was trying to correct his 12-year-old daughter's disobedience. In a frightening violation of parental authority, the court ruled the father had punished his daughter "excessively" by refusing her permission to go on a school camping trip after she had disobeyed him. Details are here on Albert Mohler's blog.

This ruling is downright dangerous - not only for parents but also for children. If parents do not have the authority to choose logical consequences in order to prevent their children from engaging in dangerous, illegal, or inappropriate behavior - if children can sue and the court will simply step in and overrule the consequences just because the court happens to deem them "excessive" - then the government is going to raise a generation of unruly, undisciplined young people who have no concept of what adult life is really like. You see, if employees choose not to show up for work, or if they choose to have an intense argument with their boss, the consequences may be what the employees would deem excessive - they may be fired, and lose their income, a good reference, and perhaps even their home and possessions. Those are pretty excessive consequences for one little argument, or for "just being a bit late sometimes" - but they are reality.

Missing a school camping trip seems to be a very appropriate consequence for a disobedient 12-year-old. It is sufficient to act as a deterrent to the behavior, without producing excessive long term pain. I know of no parent who would think that is an excessive punishment, especially in light of the fact that by the time a child reaches 12, she is coming to the end of the parent's ability to inflict meaningful consequences. It's critically important that before she leaves home, she comes to understand that the world does not operate according to her whims. Unfortunately, this young lady has just learned that it does - at least if she's willing to go to court to fight for those whims. I fear this is not the last we will hear about this young lady - and I fear the future will show she has not turned out better for this arbitrary court decision.


Shawna said...

A couple of things stand out for me, but of course I do NOT approve of this courts ruling!

First, it seems the punishment for the pictures on the dating site was a ban of the internet: very appropriate! What concerns me, and this may be the way in which the articles is written and not the actual case, but the argument with step-mother is what lead to the canceling of the camping trip.

And although I think the father had every right to cancel that trip for such an act, I do think the case needs to be present fully to the public. Being in a step-family/blended family is an entirely different ball game and requires different lenses at times. And being a step-mother, sometimes we do not always show the same compassion for stepchildren as we do our own children--no matter how wrong we know this may be nor how aware we are. Fathers often get stuck in the middle.

The second thing I notice is the reference to Senator Clinton and legislation that sees children as "child citizens" and permitting them some rights against their parents. I do not find this so awful as there are instances when parents are not acting in the best interest of their children... we see it all to often in the media. However, I would think that such legislation (passed or pending) needs to be very clear and not open to simply granting child rights simple for not getting a child's way.

And the third item that just turns me of is the reference to a "secular court." Should courts not be secular, impartial--after all, here in the US, we are a people and government of laws, and with freedom of religion. Why would anything but a secular court consider and determine cases of dispute?

Kimmer said...

That is insane and scary, and does the child no favors whatsoever. I can't even articulate how I feel (probably because my mouth is still hanging open in amazement),

Melinda S. said...

Perhaps the judge agrees with the French way of doing business--nobody is allowed to fire anybody. (With the obvious next step of nobody hires anybody, either.)

Marcy Muser said...


Your comment triggered so much thought on my part that I finally decided to write another whole post on it. Thanks! :)