When I first left church youth ministry I took a job as a residential counselor (read: houseparent) at a church-affiliated home for “at-risk” youth. I will spare readers the gory details of this job, but suffice to say that it was a nightmare. Insufficient fiscal support, spotty relations with local churches, and inconsistent approaches to managing and disciplining the children in our care were among the many problems we faced.
Taking responsibility for a child who has experienced wide varieties of abuse and very little in the way of corrective discipline is always a massive undertaking. We had one twelve year old boy who I am convinced had either oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder. Once, when I used minimal physical intervention to prevent him from assaulting another resident (which was perfectly legal for me to do, by the way) he looked at me shouted “You can’t touch me!”
Several experiences like this, along with my general pessimism, caused me to conclude that I needed to save up and get a vasectomy. As the years passed (and after I had left the children’s home) and my mental health, general attitude, and life circumstances improved, I gradually backed off from the position of never wanting kids. Christine and I look forward to having some in the future. However, every so often I relapse. Such as when I read the story below:
Wed Jun 18, 2:08 PM ET
A Canadian court has lifted a 12-year-old girl’s grounding, overturning her father’s punishment for disobeying his orders to stay off the Internet, his lawyer said Wednesday.
The girl had taken her father to Quebec Superior Court after he refused to allow her to go on a school trip for chatting on websites he tried to block, and then posting “inappropriate” pictures of herself online using a friend’s computer.
The father’s lawyer Kim Beaudoin said the disciplinary measures were for the girl’s “own protection” and is appealing the ruling.
“She’s a child,” Beaudoin told AFP. “At her age, children test their limits and it’s up to their parents to set boundaries.”
“I started an appeal of the decision today to reestablish parental authority, and to ensure that this case doesn’t set a precedent,” she said. Otherwise, said Beaudoin, “parents are going to be walking on egg shells from now on.”
“I think most children respect their parents and would never go so far as to take them to court, but it’s clear that some would and we have to ask ourselves how far this will go.”
According to court documents, the girl’s Internet transgression was just the latest in a string of broken house rules. Even so, Justice Suzanne Tessier found her punishment too severe.
Beaudoin noted the girl used a court-appointed lawyer in her parents’ 10-year custody dispute to launch her landmark case against dear old dad.
I hope that this is an anomaly rather than a trend, because you know it won’t take long for such nonsense to drift south to the U.S. While I am very much for the rights of children to be protected from any and all forms of abuse and/or neglect, what this dad did does not qualify as such. Sometimes I think that all of the chicken littles who run about screaming “nanny state!” may be more right than the rest of us want to admit.
And if the law is going to screw with my ability to discipline my kids, I don’t want any.