N.J. teen sues parents, but I’m not worried ‘cause I’m an A- dad

Elizabeth and Sean Canning listen to testimony in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, N.J., on Tuesday. Their daughter Rachel, 18, is suing them for financial support after she claims they threw her out of the house.
Elizabeth and Sean Canning listen to testimony in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, N.J., on Tuesday. Their daughter Rachel, 18, is suing them for financial support after she claims they threw her out of the house.
(Bob Karp / Associated Press)

There are bad parents, and there are ungrateful teenagers, and then there are the battling Cannings of New Jersey. And what they’ve unleashed, if you’ll excuse the cliche, is the “Mother (and Father vs. Daughter) of All Lawsuits.”

In one corner of the courtroom we have Rachel Canning, 18, Catholic schoolgirl, cheerleader, lacrosse player (a.k.a. “the spoiled brat”); in the other, Sean and Elizabeth Canning (a.k.a. the poor, beleaguered “where in the world did we go wrong?” parents).

Long story short, Rachel left home shortly after turning 18 and went to live with a friend’s family, either a) because her parents were abusive (her version) or b) because she was kicked out for refusing to obey house rules, including, gasp! a curfew, and, gasp! not doing household chores; oh, and they don’t much like her boyfriend either (the parents’ version).


OK, seriously, all you parents out there: Stop laughing! Right now! This is serious!

Anyway, you’ve dodged the bullet — for now.

On Tuesday, state Superior Court Judge Peter Bogaard denied Rachel’s request that her parents pay her $650 in weekly child support and the rest of her tuition at Morris Catholic High School. But, demonstrating that judges, like parents, can be wishy-washy too, he then ordered everyone back to court April 22 so they could argue about the issue some more.

Bogaard clearly wishes the case would go away. As he said: “Are we going to open the gates for 12-year-olds to sue for an Xbox? For 13-year-olds to sue for an iPhone? We should be mindful of a potentially slippery slope.”

You mean the slippery slope parents slide down every day? The one with the bottomless pit of misery at the end? The one that leaves you screaming “I gave up my health, my fortune, my Porsche and romantic vacations in Tahiti for you ungrateful little wretches!”?

Yea, that slippery slope.

Full disclosure: Obviously, I’m a parent. Fortunately, my children are perfect. I attribute this to my parenting skills. Just the other day, in fact, I told my buddy Chris that, as a parent, I gave myself an A-. “You grading on the curve?” he asked. (Just for the record, Chris is a terrible dad and no judge of parenting skills at all.)

I mention this, though, because while researching the case of Rachel Canning, put-upon teenager, I stumbled across a post on — shudder, FoxNewscom — by Dr. Keith Ablow, headlined, not surprisingly: “Judge makes right call against N.J. teen — kids suing for financial support would be chaos.”

Among other things, Ablow — whose tagline says he is “a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team” (is Mr. T still part of that too?) — writes: “The truth is that many millions of American parents do a lousy job. A very significant percentage would get a C- or a D, as parents.”

So, you see, I’m feeling pretty darn good about myself right now.

But I digress.

Actually, Ablow had much bigger fish to fry than America’s bad parents. True to his Fox News roots, he went right to the heart of the problem of letting children sue parents for bad parenting:

“American families are already under siege. Under Obamacare, their decisions about what kind of health insurance they must carry is dictated to them.

“In many states, a father or mother’s decision about whether to keep a gun for protection is under siege.

“In public schools, our sons and daughters are taught about graphic sexual topics that ought to be reserved for families — not ‘health educators’ to discuss.”

So, you see, this is about much more than a spoiled teenager; ths is about big government, and President Obama, and gun control types, and sex education, and Democrats, and liberals, and the war on Christmas, for God’s sake!

But me? I’m not going quite that far around the bend on this one.

No. You see, this is, after all, New Jersey we’re talking about.

So obviously, this has to be Chris Christie’s fault.


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