The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • And Then There's The Truth: I’ll See You in Court

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  • If children don’t like the rules of the house, they can just sue
    their parents.
    That’s what 18 year old New Jersey high school student Rachel Canning
    decided to do.
    Here are the facts according to court documents. Canning, an honor
    student, began drinking heavily and skipping school and both her and
    her boyfriend were suspended from school.
    She was also removed from her position as captain of the cheerleading
    squad and from the campus ministry.
    Her parents laid down rules such as being respectful, keeping a
    curfew, doing some chores, and ending a relationship with her
    boyfriend they said was a bad influence. They also took away her car
    and phone privileges.
    Two days before she turned 18, she told her parents that she was an
    adult and could do whatever she wanted. She then ran away and began
    staying with the parents of her best friend.
    Her parents immediately cut their daughter off financially, refusing
    to pay her final semester’s tuition to private Catholic school.
    Rachel Canning then filed a lawsuit saying that her parents are
    abusive and placed unreasonable limits on her.
    She said in court documents she had to leave her parents' home because
    of emotional and psychological mistreatment. She declared that even
    though she is 18, she is not an emancipated adult and is still
    dependent on her parents for financial support.
    She alleges that her parents told her they would pay for her college
    education and she based her decisions growing up on that assumption.
    Rachel Canning sought child support of $654 per week, payment of
    remaining private school tuition, payment of current living expenses,
    and commitment to paying her future college tuition. She is also suing
    to reimburse her friend’s father John Ingelsino, who has been paying
    her legal fees. Canning’s parents claim that had the Inglesino family
    not "enabled this situation to an absurd level, Rachel may have
    actually learned a life lesson and returned home and kept our family
    Judge Peter Bogaard denied Rachel Canning’s motions. He instead
    ordered the parties to return to court where they will present further
    evidence on the matter.
    The judge was skeptical of some of the claims in the lawsuit, saying
    it could lead to teens "thumbing their noses" at their parents,
    leaving home and then asking for financial support. He said, "we
    should be mindful of a potentially slippery slope."
    Page 2 of 2 - Before the next court date, however, Rachel Canning suddenly dropped
    the lawsuit. Angelo Sarno, the parents’ attorney, would not say what
    sparked the apparent reconciliation, however he stated that Canning’s
    decision was not contingent on any financial considerations.
    In a March 4th hearing, Rachel Canning said that the media attention
    was overwhelming and she wanted to move back in with her parents.
    The judge cited a letter Canning wrote where she apologized for her
    actions. She said, "I really need to realize there are consequences
    for the things I do. I do miss you guys. I am trying to turn over a
    new leaf." The judge then ordered the dismissal of the lawsuit.
    The abuse allegations regarding the family were investigated by New
    Jersey's Division of Child Protection and Permanency which determined
    that allegation of emotional abuse was unfounded.
    Parents have a fundamental right to raise their children as they see
    fit. Do we really want a society where parents are in fear of
    establishing basic rules? Even if only some of her parents’
    accusations are true, what kind of parents would the Canning’s be if
    they did not discipline their daughter?
    If the judge ruled in Rachel Canning’s favor what’s to stop other
    teenagers from doing whatever they want, and the parents still being
    responsible for paying for college?
    A ruling like that would open the floodgates for kids to sue their
    parents anytime they were disciplined.
    If teenagers are to grow up to be responsible adults then they need to
    understand that life has rules. As parents, the Cannings certainly
    have the right to set up rules.
    Now is the time for Rachel Canning to learn that lesson.
    We’ve created an entitlement mentality and if we’re not careful, a
    kid’s response to, “you’re grounded” will be, “I’ll see you
    in court.”
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