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Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You

Don’t Bite The Hand That Feeds YouIf you’re like me every day seems to bring a new WTH moment. I’ll be the first to admit that I, like many of you, long ago woke up to discover that I had become my father (or mother for you female readers out there). As a result of reaching this “never going to happen” stage of my life, I seem to find myself in a constant state of consternation when I look at the world around me. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think I’m alone when I ask questions like, “Who are the Kardashians, and why are they on my television?”, or “Why do we continue to try to find new ways to make unemployment a ‘liberating’ experience?” I have nothing against famous people or the unemployed, but shouldn’t you have to have accomplished something to become the focus of the public eye. And isn’t the “liberating” part of the employment equation being the ability to spend the money earned from your gainful employment anyway you see fit? Having established my bona fides as your typical clueless middle-aged guy, maybe someone can help me make sense of the 18-year-old kid who is now suing her parents for support.

As I understand it, the young lady found that living under the draconian conditions established by her parents was so intolerable that she moved in with the family of her best friend. Having reached the national age of majority, this is her right. After all, she is now eligible to vote, serve in the military and sign legally binding contracts, so we should be secure in the knowledge that, prior to fleeing the suburban gulag operated by the two people who had raised her up to this point, she had thought through all of the ramifications of her decision. Unfortunately, even the best laid plans of the most conscientious young person sometimes go awry, leaving our disgruntled young adult to arrive at the only logical solution available—sue Mom and Dad.

Obviously, the expenses associated with being a private school honor student and cheerleader with college coming in the fall turned out to be a little steeper than she probably planned on. The father of the family she is now living with agrees, so he has decided to help her by financing her legal efforts to get her parents to cough up a $650 monthly allowance, the remainder of her school tuition and her future college expenses—oh, and her accumulated legal expenses since charity has its limits.

Since I recognize that my current status in life often leaves me prone to snap judgements—“get a job kid”—I decided to delve deeper into the issue to see just what kind of concentration camp her parents were forcing the youngster to endure. I quickly discovered that her parent’s insisted that you do minor chores around the house, and we all know what self esteem killers those can be, observe a regular curfew of 11:00 pm on weekdays and 1:30 am on weekends—isn’t the kid supposed to have a social life?—and break up with a boyfriend that they felt was a bad influence on her. While they boyfriend issue is perhaps a little dicey—the whole Romeo and Juliet thing, you know—the other requirements that her parents had established in return for eating their food, living in their home, watching their cable and having her school paid for struck me as a tad below the onerous level. In fact, their rules sounded a lot like the ones that I grew up under, only without the private school and boyfriend.

According the articles that I have read, the fundamental legal issue is whether the girl’s parents still have a legal obligation to cover her expenses even though she has elected to no longer live with them. Perhaps, I’m misunderstanding something here. Taking the whole nuclear family element out of the argument, isn’t this just the basic parental contract that we all lived under? In consideration for your mother and I paying for everything, dealing with your angst-filled teenage years and periods of outright snottiness, we ask that you observe a few rules that we feel will benefit the family, help ensure your safety and minimize the number of bad decisions that you will inevitably make. Upon reaching the age at which society deems you to be an adult, you are free to walk away from this agreement at any time with no prior written notice. Seems pretty straightforward to me. Particularly the walk away part, which my dad always concluded with “and don’t let the door hit you on the a** on the way out”.

I am not sure which element of this situation I find more disturbing; the fact that it has reached a court of law or that these poor people have raised a child whose sense of entitlement eclipses that of her responsibility. While I hope that this family can resolve their issues, it doesn’t appear that is going to happen any time soon. While I realize that times have changed, and maybe I’m reaching the point of “fogeydom”, I do believe that in making her future decisions this young woman would be best to take to heart that old proverb, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”.