Daughter vs. Parents

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Did you hear the one about the 18-year-old daughter suing her parents for child support and college money? Unfortunately, no punch-line – I thought it was a joke, some kind of spoof. I mean, who sues their parents in broad daylight? Not to say that some children shouldn’t take their parents to court for crimes committed against them. The courts are filled with those horrifying cases.

Rachael Canning, an 18-year-old, New Jersey high school student, has taken her parents to civil court with charges of emotional abuse and abandonment and is seeking money for her private school and college tuition. Her parents claim no abuse has ever occurred, that Rachael simply refused to respect house rules, and that she left their home on her own accord.

This case has the full attention of New Jersey’s legal community, as well as parents across the nation, due to the possible ripple effect. A favorable ruling for Rachael could establish a precedent setting forth further parental responsibilities toward children of legal age no longer living at home. Such a ruling would encourage similar lawsuits against parents by children who feel entitled to certain amenities and would add to the workload of our already overburdened court system.

It is quite easy to have the knee jerk reaction to such an event, especially if you are a parent (personally I did). The comments and posts have slammed Rachael as a spoiled-rotten child, filled with a sense of entitlement. Yet, the question remains: Who sues their parents? A hurting person lashing out and making decisions based on pain and wounds without a critical thought process taken place or a time of reflection and consideration of other people. Rachael, herself, has admitted in an email to her parents, “I’m my biggest enemy and do realize that a change has to be made.” The abrupt moment from childhood to adulthood is filled with enormous challenges, and our youth are completely unprepared to make effective choices that define adulthood. We cram the abc’s into their heads and hearts with fun carefree songs but as a society we hardly lay the foundation to developing empowering choices.

On the other hand, we should not simply assume that Rachael’s accusations are false. After all, victims of abuse must summon a huge amount of courage to come forth and speak up, and there are too many people in this world who have been abused and ignored because the evidence was not verified. Yet, if the accusations are, indeed, false, then we come back to a young woman who is hurting and in need of help.

Any way you look at this case, it is disturbing and warrants a dialogue on resources for families struggling with conflict and challenges that land them in court.

Share your thoughts and resources.

Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

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Empowering Choices Powering Lives

Empowering Choices Powering Lives

Bullying reports will go down when a prevention model is in place. The TURNING STONEchoice character education program will empower students to feel confident and to stand up. Bergen County teacher states. “In my classroom, I have seen most of my students empowered to be able to handle conflicts on their own. In most cases handle the conflict in a positive manner. I have also seen impulsive students really control some of their reactions. A huge benefit is that it empowers my quiet students to be assertive and share their feelings instead of keeping them bottled up. The climate in my classroom has become very positive and I feel a choice-making model truly helps us maintain our positive climate.”

The Truth Behind Bullying

Currently, there is an epidemic of hostile, violent, out of control behavior plaguing our schools, requiring our immediate action. Although attention and assistance must surely be given to victims, it is equally crucial to focus on the offenders, themselves. Simply put, no bully behavior, no victims.
Complicated and individualized histories exist behind bullies and the gamut of reasons for their behavior even more tumultuous. Long gone are stereotypical theories that promote a one-stop-bullying identification process. For instance, not all bullies were bullied by their parents.
There are some children who are more likely to bully others. According to a government study, “Some are well-connected to their peers, have social power, are overly concerned about their popularity, and like to dominate or be in charge of others. Others are more isolated from their peers and may be depressed or anxious, have low self esteem, be less involved in school, be easily pressured by peers, or not identify with the emotions or feelings of others.”1 With an identification that includes almost anyone and everyone at some point in time, a program that reaches students where they are emotionally at any given moment is essential.
Some school programs emphasis the typical rundown of what bullying is or is not, which on a surface level is important considering a few offending students might not otherwise become aware that their behavior actually falls within the realm of bullying. Yet, we need a solution holistic in its approach that includes an examination of interpersonal relationships and tackles the core issue- cognitive choice making. The truth is bullying is just a by- product of an immature and limited choice model; as are blame, self-pity, anger and other multiple obstacles that interfere with an individual’s effective self-empowering choices.
Turning Stonechoice is that holistic approach, a flexible program for developing students’ choice-making and critical-thinking skill sets. The program targets K-12 students and can be used as a stand-alone unit, a character-development lesson, or as enrichment material in content areas like reading, social studies or writing.
The program is comprised of four fundamental components: training, parent involvement, materials, and support. The combination of these components supports the TSC Process, which is core of our program, providing a vehicle for positive choice making in a non-competitive manner.

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
1. http://www.stopbullying.gov

The Land of Indiana: A true story of Bullying from the Past

Once upon a time, I lived in the land of Indiana during a time when you were bullied or harassed, you did one of two things: 1) fight or 2) run. I vividly remember the torment of elementary school, tortured solely based on my race, which seemed to bewilder and anger white and black alike. I made people feel uncomfortable being both and I never really fit into a perfect box for my peers to accept. Of course, there were exceptions and friends. However, for years people would ask me crazy questions like, “What are you?”, as if I were some alien visitor from another planet. I got use to it and sometimes would head people off from the inquiry because I could see the question scrolling across their eyes.
I believe my father was fully aware of what was coming my way when I started school. He told me with seriousness, “The moment someone screws with you, pick up a chair and hit them in the head with it.” My mother, the non-violent and non-confrontational one, horrified with my father’s stern advice, told me, “No fighting in school, just walk away.” Dad gave me the look. The look as if to say: “You better listen up, girl.” I journeyed off to school with a backpack of anxiety because I kept hearing my father’s voice in one ear and my mother’s non-violent message in the other. Their opposing points of view created a deep inner conflict as to which parent to actually obey. My young mind considered only the choices my parents presented for me and limited my choice-making selections to fight or run.
As my father predicted, the first day of school was filled with rudeness, insults and isolation. I stewed in anxiety and anger for the entire day, staring at chairs. At no point did any instruction or education pass through my ears or make it to my brain. Why was this happening to me? Was it because I was the new girl? Was it because of my race? For me, it made no sense.
At the end of the day I had picked my target, a girl who had been the most vocal with her disgust for me. I was sitting on my weapon, but I did not want to disobey my mother. I decided last minute to just run home once school ended and escape the nightmare but as I stood to leave the classroom, my original target spat on me on her way out.
In a blink of an eye, I dragged my chair into the hallway, out the nearest exit. There she was with a group of friends, staring at me as if she was ready for a fight, but she quickly changed her mind when my chair hurdled into the air and smacked her across the forehead. Super-shocked, she and her friends ran from the scene as I stood there, hyperventilating and having an out-of-body experience.
There was never any adult intervention from the beginning of the day to the end. I believe the chair was still on the side of the building the very next day. While some may feel my actions were justified, I believe there were other options for me to consider, like, informing a teacher as soon as I was insulted or clearly and firmly address my tormentor instead of silently seethe. Invoking scenes from a movie, I wish I could say my retaliation prevented further bullying, but it did not. For several years, by different students and different reasons, I was tortured daily in the Indiana school system.
Today there are so many other options for students and parents to consider instead of fighting or running. Violence begets violence and running from our problems never resolves our issues and challenges in life. Although great strides have been made to bring bullying issues to the forefront of discussions much still needs to be done to end this social ill.
There is encouraging news from the land of Indiana. On Monday, February 25, 2013, Indiana’s House of Representatives passed legislation that bolstered the current anti-bullying law to include training for teachers, cyber bullying and harsher punishments for offenders of the law. It awaits Senate approval and is expected to pass into law.
Although, I will never be a benefactor of the new law that passes, I am filled with hope for those children filling the halls in Indiana schools. Hope because many students, teachers and parents now have access to wonderful services that are available to them, like the TURNING STONEchoice program, which equips adults and students with the tools to empower themselves to make positive choices.
Please visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com for more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process.
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice