Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sue your mom

No, that's not a fat-fingered typing error. Nor is it a partial sentence lacking pertinent punctuation and a verb. For your amusement and edification, I present today's lawsuit. Yes, that's right, two adult children sued their mother for bad mothering, which caused emotional distress to the tune of $50,000.

This wicked mother did such horrible things as arguing with her daughter over the cost of party dresses and harassing same child by calling at midnight on Homecoming to tell her to come home! The boy child received a boorish birthday card accusing him of being "different from all the rest." Gasp. It also had no money in it.

Oh my. Think of the possibilities. I could sue my mom for the extreme distress she caused me by throwing away my big red and blue stuffed cat while I was away at college. And what about that time she made me stay at the table and finish the bologna and jelly sandwich I specifically requested then refused to eat? Clearly, that was damaging. Not a bite of bologna has passed my lips since.

Alas, the lawsuit was dismissed by a sane Illinois appeals court. Ruling in favor of the children "could potentially open the floodgates to subject family child rearing to . . . . excessive judicial scrutiny and interference." You think?

The lawsuit is bad enough. But we know that all manner of ridiculous cases clog up court dockets each and every day. What I found disappointing about this situation was the identity of the adult children's attorney: their father, ex-husband of the subject of the suit.

Again, it's not surprising that ex-spouses would seek to beat up on one another. But here's the kicker in their father's behavior. He said he tried to convince his children not to bring the case. So, I'm a parent, my kids want to sue my ex, want ME to be their attorney, and I don't think it's a good idea. But I do it anyway?

Grow a spine, Daddy. Yes, as our children grow, we step back and let them make their own mistakes. Certainly, the parent involved couldn't keep his children from filing suit, nor should he have tried to do so. But it was definitely NOT Daddy's job to assist them in making that mistake by providing them free legal services.

Some parents do horrible, unspeakable things to their children. At the very least, ridiculous suits like this make a mockery of those crimes by attempting to put a price tag on the disappointments we all face when our parents turn out to be imperfect human beings. And having a co-parent aid and abet this behavior adds salt to the wound.

I wonder if somewhere in the piles of legal papers about this case, someone might have suggested counseling for all of those involved. If nothing else, it sure would've saved a forest of trees.


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