By Charlena S. Carney, Adjunct Professor
I was in my kitchen cooking a meal after teaching three classes filled with rambunctious teenagers. I turned on the news as I always do at 6 pm to see what transpired in the world while I was at work. I heard the most troublesome news story ever. No, it wasn’t about the war in Afghanistan, nor was it about the polar vortex that threatened to freeze our entire country into a state of oblivion. An 18-year-old girl was suing her parents in court, not to be emancipated, or to be freed from abuse, but she was suing her parents for financial support! I leaned closer to the television and turned up the volume because I couldn’t believe my ears.
Let me get this straight; an 18-year-old girl, according to her parents, moved out of the home because she refused to obey reasonable household rules. Ok, exactly what were the rules? I found myself entrenched with this story because I teach a juvenile delinquency class so my ears are always open to stories about teenagers. So what were the rules?
- Being respectful
- Keeping a curfew
- Doing chores
These rules sounded reasonable to me. I raised two children and now they are adults. The three rules are universal when raising children. I found myself in a state of shock. This young lady wanted to force her parents to support her financially even though she was 18 years old and according to news stories, left the house voluntarily. Not only did she want her parents to pay her current private school tuition, she also asked the court to force her parents to pay for her future college bills.
I had heard it all. I teach a Juvenile Delinquency (EDU 800) starting April 14, so I began to rationalize and I did some research. According to brain experts from Children’s Hospital Boston, the frontal lobe of teens is only around 80 percent developed and will not be completely developed until a person is in their twenties or possibly thirties! This part of the brain manages impulse control, judgment, insight, and emotional control. So science is on our side. Teenagers need us. They want us to guide them through life; not to spoil them rotten and neglect them to give them the necessary attention they desperately need.
A New Jersey judge sided with the parents by asking this question: “Do we want to establish a precedent where parents live in constant fear of establishing basic rules of the house?”
What do you think? How as a teacher can you enforce basic rules of the classroom with common respect between teacher and student?