When I first read a news headline about this case, it was written in a gender neutral way. Something like "Student Sues Parents for Support" and I knew, before I clicked, that that student was a girl.
Girls are disowned more than boys. Yes, even here in North America.
Rachel Canning is an 18 year old in her last semester of high school. She is a cheerleader and an honour student - although I bet her grades have plummeted since this has happened. She does not want to live at home anymore but she does want to finish school. A sad situation made far worse by the bullying antics of her parents. They have pulled the rug out from under their daughter by refusing to pay her tuition to finish high school or to top up her partial scholarship to the University of Vermont.
Whatever else is wrong here, shouldn't the adults keep her on track in school? Will she be better off without a college education? What lesson will she learn by not getting a chance to go to college?
Her parents say she left because she refused to follow the rules. They say they want her to return. Yet, they have also stopped paying tuition to the private high school she has attended since 9th grade. The school where she is popular and excels.
This family has issues that aren't atypical from a lot of families. A child who is too outspoken and makes bad choices, according to her parents. We've all been there.
You lose me though when the parents undermine her education with a stunt like refusing to pay for her last semester of high school.
If she loses out on a high school diploma, it will stunt her life. She will spend the next five or ten years working low wage jobs and working toward a GED. Her dreams of college will be stunted too.
(The administration at Morris Catholic High School in Denville, New Jersey, has wisely and compassionately agreed to raise funds elsewhere for Rachel's last semester at the high school.)
I just wonder: is the appropriate consequence for 18 year-old angst to head into life without benefit of an education? Can these parents not act like the adults and keep what is working for her -- whatever other mistakes they believe she is making --on track?
To me this sounds like a power struggle gone way too far. She is about to embark on her young adulthood and make decisions that may be good or may be bad. But they are going to thwart any chance she has at a happy, well adjusted life because she is doing exactly what young adults should do - make mistakes, learn hard lessons and mature.
I believe Rachel Canning when she says her family is abusive. This stemming of funds and the potential break in her education is abusive.
Good luck Rachel Canning. You've learned a hard lesson: sometimes parents aren't their child's best advocate.
Rachel Canning's attorney, Tanya N. Helfand, said Sean and Elizabeth Canning are being "negligent and irresponsible."
"Normal healthy parents want to help their children. They want their children to go to college. They want to help them with their difficulties," Helfand said in court.
This is not a teenager on drugs or into prostitution, where parents would need to take drastic, tough-love tactics into consideration. From CNN:"You may not get along wonderfully every single day with your teenager. That doesn't mean that you abandon them and you say, 'Guess what, you're on your own.'"
The teen wrote in her court certification that she aspires to be a biomedical engineer. Her first choice for college is the University of Delaware, from which she has yet to hear back from regarding her admission decision. She said taking legal action was necessary to ensure that she is able to accomplish her future goals.
"I am a very good student. I have no drug problems. I am a good athlete. I work at a job outside of school," she wrote. "My parents simply will not help me any longer...(They) should be required to provide for my support and education until I can stand on my own two feet. In order to do this, I had to take legal action."