Terry Paulson

Viktor Frankl, holocaust survivor and author of Man's Search for Meaning, once observed: “Freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.” Liberty and responsibility are both critical in preserving our republic, but the chances of America, much less California, allowing such a tribute to personal responsibility to be erected seems little to none.

Nowhere is the absurdity of our entitlement age more evident than the recent case before a New Jersey judge where a spoiled 18-year-old teenager, unwilling to accept house rules, left home and sued her parents for $650/wk support, private high school tuition, and college tuition funding. After leaving in response to parental rules and demands, her parents took away the car they paid for, stopped paying her high school tuition, but continued to pay for her healthcare.

There's been an open invitation for her to accept the house rules and return home, but her parents confessed, "What do you do when a child says ‘I don’t want your rules but I want everything under the sun and you to pay for it?’” Thankfully, the New Jersey judge Peter Bogaard ruled in favor of the parents, encouraged reconciliation, and delayed the issue of college tuition for a month. Commenting on the implications, he warned: "Do we want to establish a precedent where parents live in basic fear of establishing rules of the house? ... A kid could move out and then sue for an XBox, an iPhone or a 60-inch television.”

Parenting is a hard enough job without having to give standing to disappointed teenagers being able to file suit against their parents when they don't get their way. Society depends on parents transforming demanding, self-absorbed children into responsible adults able to provide for their own welfare and needs. Through the loving use of limits, discipline, timely wisdom, and support, good parents care enough to prepare children for a world that does not cater to their every need and want. Responsible parents teach children that rewards are earned not entitlements. If you want something, you work for it, you save, and then you purchase what you've saved for.

Limits and discipline are seldom appreciated at the time. Parents never hear, "I know I was upset at you yesterday, but I thought about it all night. You said "no' to prepare me for life. I'm lucky to have you!" If a teen said that, you'd know something was wrong with the youth!

Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

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