Kids Gone Wrong: I Wish My Kid Would Try to Sue Me


I’m just going to come right out and say it: I'm one of those parents who is guilty of fantasizing about the day my children turn 18. Yes, I love them and caring for them has been a blessing, but the thought of them leaving the nest and finding their way in the world is as exciting to me as the day they took their first steps. No lie. So, imagine the sense of shock I felt when I heard the reports about the 18-year-old New Jersey woman by the name of Rachel Canning who is suing her parents to continue receiving support and school tuition, after they kicked her out of the house for failure to obey their rules.

Her parents deny the claim, and say she decided to leave when they issued an ultimatum: abide by household rules, or find somewhere else to live. She opted for the latter and moved in with a friend. This friend’s father happens to be an attorney and is the one who helped her initiate the law suit. A lot, I know. I'm not going to get into all of the nuances of the law, but if she wins I think that sets a bad precedent for parents everywhere. The next hearing is scheduled for April 22.

With that said, I wish one of my kids would try to sue me.

Precedent, or no precedent, they’d be in for the fight of their life. There is very little I wouldn’t do for my kids, but I have a deep distaste of ungrateful, bratty behavior, so there are limitations.  From everything I’ve heard about this case, that’s what most of this boils down to. This girl has lived a life of privilege. Her parents now expect her to comply with their wishes while they support her and she enters adulthood. She, on the other hand, wants to live her life on her terms. Nothing wrong with that, but why should they foot the bill?  You can't have it both ways, sweetie.

I’m not sure what will become of this case, but I shudder to think that this young woman will be able to use a court of law to co-sign on her lack of gratitude. Something tells me her sense of entitlement is not something that happened overnight. She must have grown up used to getting her way and when her parents finally took a hard line and said, "No," she couldn’t deal.

This is why I discourage parents from giving kids any and everything they want. I don’t know exactly what happened in this particular case, but I know so many parents who spoil their kids, and then wonder why the child seems so ungrateful and entitled when they get older. I do a lot for my kids, but I try to nip those entitled thoughts and behaviors in the bud before they ever take root. From time-to-time, I tell them no, because no is a regular part of life and they need to be accustomed to hearing it – before it’s too late. If they get their way every time, before you know it, you’ll have a situation similar to what the Cannings are going through. A kid who thinks they’re old enough to break your rules, but not old to take care of themselves? The only thing I’d have to say to my kid if they tried to sue me is, “I’ll see you in court.” I’m setting the boundaries now, so hopefully, we won’t have to see a day like that.

What would you do if your kid tried to sue you?


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  • Etover

    This makes me think of this song my grandmother used to play. I can’t remember the title, but I think it was called “No Charge”. The lyrics went: “for the nine months I carried you . . . no charge. For the cost of your college, and your clothes, and your knowledge, no charge”. The parents should send the brat an itemized bill of child rearing expenses outside of necessity.

    • Nelson Todd

      Shirley Ceasar. My mother played all her albums, and that song too when I was growing up.

  • Asky Askerson

    Wish whatever you want, if your child sues you, it’s a result of your own failure as a parent that you would raise someone who would do that or need to do that. If you refuse to pay for your own child’s education, regardless of whatever happens, then you deserve to be sued. You don’t get to lord an education over a child and say, “Well as long as you don’t have sex, you can get an education.” No, you should be able to get an education no matter what you do and like it or not, it’s a parent’s responsibility to pay for a child’s education. Don’t want to pay for it? Don’t have kids. You don’t get to decide that your child does something you dislike and thus you are relieved of your responsibility to them. Turning 18 doesn’t mean the parents are no longer responsible, that’s a sick mentality to have and it’s the reason why so many families fail. “I wish my kids would try to sue me” is an unnecessarily hostile attitude.

    • Shiva Amina

      Education is a right up until the age of 18 or graduation from high school. This girl wants her parents to pay for a private school education. She is just as capable of getting an education from a public institution…millions of students do it every year. As for college…some parents genuinely cannot pay for college for their children, and if those children cannot find a way to save or break it up into payments…then it just doesn’t happen. As for being a good parent…my own family is an example of how that doesn’t always work out the way you want no matter how hard you try….6 kids…all grown…5 have their lives together…the 6th….well we won’t get into it but she isn’t and hasn’t been together for years. And 18 is the age where parents can choose to bow out….legally. When I went to college I was 18 and therefore my records were sealed to my mother. She couldn’t request or look up anything in regards to my schooling or health without going through me. While typically parents have a relationship with their children that allows them to ease through points like this…some kids are stubborn and some parents just don’t want to be bothered. If the law states that you are no longer a minor and that you speak solely for yourself regardless of what your parents want to say or not…you are an adult. Being an adult comes with adult responsibilities. This “girl” needs to grow up. I saw some of the court footage…and it’s already clear that the judge himself thinks her preposterous behavior in suing her parents is ludicrous.

      • Asky Askerson

        No, it’s a human right regardless of how old you are. Thinking that an education is a privilege or not a right for an adult is something that only Americans think and have been trained to think, and look at the situation they are in socially and politically. You’ve all been fooled if that’s what you think. She’s capable of using government money to get an education at a lower tier school, yes. But it’s not my job or your job to pay for her school – it is her parents job. They created her and they are responsible for her. Your own family is a perfect example of reality and how children are different and grow into different adults. Not everyone wants school, not everyone does well in school even when they do try. And that is perfectly A-OK. Just because parents can choose to bow out at EIGHTEEN (my god, people) doesn’t mean it’s correct or moral or right or just. It only means it’s legal. It’s legal for me to call people names based on superficial things, it’s legal for me to be racist and hom0phobic, it’s legal for me to tell mothers that I hope their babies die in a house fire. That doesn’t make it right, does it? No, I’d be an awful person if I did any of those things. What we have here is a young girl, not an adult, who wants to go to school and her parents are telling her no because of some petty curfew / boyfriend drama. I can use myself for an example. When I was 17, I graduated and ran off with some crazy kids and did all of the wrong things until I was like 19 and went back home. My dad paid for my school and first apartment. He didn’t hold it against me that I made some obviously stupid and childish mistakes, because I was in fact a child. I got my degree and made a career, got my sh*t together just fine. She can do the same. You don’t deny someone an education who wants it. If the girl didn’t want to go to school, that would be one thing. The parents need to thank their god that the girl even cares about her future and education to begin with.

        And honestly, you all can say that it has nothing to do with the parents all you want, but it doesn’t change that when you file for FAFSA, *all the way until you are TWENTY SIX*, you are required to put down your parents information because your aid is determined by how much they make.

        Of course the girl needs to grow up, she is a child. That’s what children have to do – grow up. And you’re a mother of 6, you know that’s not just an instant or easy process.

      • Run

        As I wrote above, you have to view this from a different lens. This is the breaching of a contract.

    • I’m Not A Sucker

      I disagree.. If the parents have the nerve to throw her out and not back down shows they were not spoiling her. Some kids will try you… Hello…. And if a child thinks they are too grown to respect me and follow my rules then you get nothing. And another thing you are in the minority 80% of people do not feel they are obligated to pay for education for an 18 year old. Europeans feel we do too much for our kids. I agree. I paid for my own college. And it made me stronger.

      • Asky Askerson

        I agree that you shouldn’t spoil a child, but you don’t deny it the right to an education. It’s sick, no matter how you slice it. You do not lord an education over a young woman who desperately wants it. You don’t sound like a good parent, honestly, if you think denying your child an education is a proper punishment for disobedience. Deny the child a car, a TV, a phone, bills paid, deny them a warm bed if you want to – you never EVER deny someone an education when you are responsible for them. You have no idea what you are talking about with the Europeans. Europeans don’t have to pay for school like we do. That’s because it is a HUMAN RIGHT. If you cared at all about how Europe does things, you’d be outraged for the girl that her school was so expensive to begin with.

    • noelle224

      “You should be able to get an education no matter what you do…” That’s where you’re wrong. Higher education is a privilege, not a right. If you want your parents to help you pay for it, then be respectful toward them. If you can’t handle being respectful, then get yourself a job, search for a scholarship and apply for a student loan. It’s that simple. There are ways to pay for college without it coming out of mommy and daddy’s pocket. I’m curious, how old are you? You kept throwing the word child around, but she took it upon herself to enter adult territory when she moved out. Adulthood comes with responsibilities…like paying your own bills. If you want to maintain the perks of childhood then you have to take all that comes with it, like respecting your parents! Entitled is probably the nicest word to describe this little girl.

      • Asky Askerson

        That’s not where I’m wrong, and you haven’t shown why it would be wrong even if it were. Education is not a privilege, it is a right. Living in America has convinced you that using your brain and being intellecutal and educated is a privilege but I can guarantee that it’s a basic human right. Go ask the UN, go ask Malala Yousefi. Being respectful is important, but many children her age are not, and that’s part of being a teenager. If the parents cannot handle a teenager, then they should not have had one. Yes, there are ways for paying for college when your parents cannot afford it. When they can and still refuse, it is unacceptable. The government should not have to pick up the parent’s tab. It’s not “that simple” as having to do it on your own as a kid. Kids are not supposed to do this on their own. It’s none of your business how old I am, and it doesn’t justify or unjustify my opinion or relate to this story. Don’t be rude, that’s not the kind of question you even ask a stranger. Don’t overstep your boundaries because we are online. Yes, she is a child and yes, she tried to do adult things. That’s precisely what children her age do. Of course she should pay her own bills, but if she needs help paying for her education, her parents need to help her. They created her and they are responsible for her. Many of you don’t think things through, you just say whatever is harsh and angry. We don’t need uneducated people running around out in the open with the rest of us. If a person wants to go to college, there should be no reason why she can’t. She should feel entitled because she is entitled.

        • noelle224

          You’re entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in this country, but that’s about it. Everything else is achieved through hard work, determination and strategically navigating the system. In the United States of America it is your right to receive an education through high school. Anything after that comes at a price. And if you don’t have anyone willing to foot the bill, then you have to find a way to pay for it on your own. Parents aren’t ATMs. Their job isn’t just to pay for your education and cover your bills. They also need to teach you respect, responsibility, personal accountability, consequences, the value of a dollar, all of which are necessary to be successful in life. And cutting her off until she falls back into line is a reasonable way to accomplish that. I’m sorry, but that’s just how life works. You mouth off at your boss, you get fired. You come and go from the office as you please, you get fired. You walk around like you’re entitled, but have nothing to back it up and refuse to pay your dues, you get fired. Better to learn this lesson at 18 with mommy and daddy to catch you when you fall than later in life when you’re in the real world and have no other source of income.
          These parents didn’t refuse to pay her tuition all together. They said they would be happy to cover her costs…if she moved back home where she belonged. What’s unreasonable about that? Her parents would be irresponsible if they didn’t teach her that her actions have consequences. Can you imagine if she went away to college with the mentality that she has right now? She would be the type to get to college, go completely crazy and end up flunking out or much much worse. Remember the affluenza teen? If only his parents cut him off and taught him responsibility. But they didn’t, and now four people are dead.
          I asked you how old you were because believe it or not, age and experience does factor into how we all form our opinions. You may feel one way now, but a few years down the road your opinion could change. If I had to guess I would say you’re probably around the age of 18

    • Run

      The “You’re 18, so now I’m done” mentality is highly dysfunctional and has ruined so many black families! That mentality is what separates most whites and Asians, and the performances and careers of their kids, from Blacks. You get out of your kids what you put into them. Black folks should know by now that we are obviously doing something wrong in the parenting department, because too many of our kids are screwed up. If any kids “need” to be a bit more coddled past the age of 18, it’s Black kids. They deal with so much societal mistreatment and outright discrimination; parents need to give them an extra hand beyond the legal age of consent to give them a fighting chance in the world. Instead, we hold dear the wrong mentality: one that allows Black parents to discard their kids at 18 (and often sooner), yet expect their kids to care for them well into their elder years. So the trade-off in the minds of Black parents is often “I’ll feed, house and cloth you for 16-18 years, then it’s time for YOU to take care of ME” – even if that care lasts for 30-40 years. It’s very irresponsible of Black parents to think that way and then rationalize it as “preparing their kids for the harsh and cruel world”. Let’s just call it what it really is: parents having kids before they are equipped to do so and then praying that their kid ages them out if the financial hardships they created. In many cases it’s just sheer laziness in the part of the parents; many of them never took there parental responsibilities seriously and regard parental status much like prison: something they can’t wait to get out of. They regard the 16-18 years of parenting as a “sentence”, regardless of what they might tell you. And if the kids become NFL or NBA ballers – or even if they don’t – they can take care of the parents. NOW, who sounds “entitled” in that equation? It’s definitely NOT the kids.

    • Run

      The average kid won’t sue a parent, and the average Black kid wouldn’t even consider it, for a variety of reasons. The parents who say “I wish…” Do not live in the world of trust funds, etc., so they cannot fathom having business relationships with their kids. But in Hollywoid, where a kid may be the primary breadwinner…the boss…or in upper-east side New York or The Hamptons (the homes of the Gissip Girls, Sebastians, Biffs, cotillions, white parties, equestrian shows and polo matches), legal issues are sometimes par for the course. These are not everyday people were talking about. They are mostly mega-rich white people. The settings aren’t the inner-city or even your local suburb. It’s communities in which the kids are already millionaires before they are born, kids begin running companies before they go to Princeton or Harvard, and their neighbors are celebrities. The kids we are talking about carry handbags the prices of cars! Understand that if you are an average black parent, you don’t have to “wish your child would”. These issues are unique to people who live in a world that you would never understand or relate to. How do I know? I once lived in a similar environment, so I understand the differences.

  • Run

    You need to view this from a different lens: the lens of the law. It can be argued that the parents induced a certain academic performance from their daughter by setting up a trust fund that was theoretically predicated only on her gaining admission to college. She appears to have met or exceeded the basic requirements imposed upon her by the contract terms. By reneging on the promise to pay her college tuition with funds from an account set up specifically for that purpose, the parents have arguably breeched an established contract. They set up the college fund, made their daughter aware that the fund existed, created he expectation that as long as she kept her high school grades at a certain level she would have access to those funds, and then reneged on their end of the promise based on tangential events unrelated to her academic performance. By all accounts, she remained an honor student, despite a few missteps. Like it or not, the parents arguably breeched a contract by denying her access to the college fund, and the fact that the daughter was already privileged and was perceivably misbehaving presents an argument of equity or fundamental fairness, but it does not mitigate the argument that a contract exists, or that the perceived contract was breeched. Is the daughter probably just a self-entitled, spoiled, ungrateful brat? Yes! But does she theoretically have a claim? ABSOLUTELY! Especially in light of allegations that her parents were “abusive”. Now…we must temper or view of the abuse allegations with the understanding that abuse to a rich kid may not equate with society’s general definition, much less that of poor kids who endure daily unspeakable acts of violence and emotional warfare. Still, a judge and jury would need to separate his/her personal prejudice(s) and apply the law in this case as he/she would any other. Does a contract exist? Was it breeched? What are the aggravating/mitigating circumstances involved? How do you apply contract law to this particular family circumstance? What effect will deciding on this case have on future case law? Those were and are the relevant questions, whether you like this girl or not. She has recently moved home, but I suspect that such a move was made to spare the family any further embarrassment, but where there’s smoke there’s fire. The family is dysfunctional, or we never would have heard a word about any of this.