The Chicago Tribune (and the Salt Lake Tribune) published an article on August 28th entitled, “Adult Children’s ‘Bad Mothering’ Lawsuit Dismissed.” It read in part: “Raised in a $1.5 million Barrington Hills, Ill. home by their attorney father, two grown children have spent the last two years pursuing a unique lawsuit against their mom for bad mothering that alleges damages caused when she failed to buy toys for one and sent another a birthday card he didn’t like.”
“The alleged offenses include failing to take her daughter to a car show, telling her then 7-year-old son to buckle his seat belt or she would contact police, haggling over the amount to spend on party dresses and calling her daughter at midnight to ask that she return home from celebrating homecoming.”
The court found that none of the mom’s behaviors were extreme or outrageous. And they went on to say that “to rule in favor of her children could potentially open the floodgates to subject family childrearing to…excessive judicial scrutiny and interferences.”
This article got me to thinking about children suing their parents. I found examples where kids sued their parents for unpaid child support, for health issues stemming from passive smoking and for the faulty installation of a car seat. (In that one, the nine year old won $100,000 from the parent’s insurance company.) Some heart breaking cases included a story about a child suing for the opportunity to terminate the rights of a mother who abandoned him and a case where a child switched at birth sued to be able to return to the home of her birth parents.
There is also the issue surrounding the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a United Nations human rights treaty that outlines the civil, political, economic, social and health issues surrounding the children of the world. Interestingly enough, I believe that only Somalia and the United States have refused to ratify this treaty. It was signed in 1995 by President Bill Clinton, but not ratified. Apparently, the opposition to the CRC has come mostly from political and religious conservatives.
No surprise here, I tend to agree with the conservatives who oppose the treaty. I CERTAINLY do not oppose protecting the children of the world from sexual and personal slavery, from starvation and mistreatment of all other kinds. But I am very concerned about further eroding the appropriate role that a parent should have in the life of their child.
Specifically, Ephesians 6:1-4 outlines the role of a child in relationship to the parent. They are told to obey and later to honor their father and mother. “To honor is more than to obey. It is to respect and esteem. It is the form love assumes towards those who are placed above us by God.” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol.11, page 81.)
This week, it would be good to review everyone’s job description in your home. Review with your child just why God has placed you in their lives. Remind them that it is your job to instruct, correct (with patience and understanding- Eph. 6:4), guide and protect. It is their job to honor and obey. It’s hard to do that when you are suing your parents over a birthday card you didn’t like!
By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel