Rachel Canning tried to sue her parents for college tuition, although she is 18 and a legal adult. The judge ruled against her claim for child support and tuition, and called her disrespectful. If I wasn’t clear in my previous post, I do have empathy for Rachel. Having parents you don’t see eye-to-eye with can be exhausting, devastating and even traumatic. My best ran away from home in high school when we were 15 because she couldn’t get along with her parents and lived with my family until she was 19. I get it. Still, I do find it hard to relate to someone who has the audacity to sue her parents for college tuition money that she isn’t actually entitled to.
Not to mention Rachel received a $20,000 college scholarship and her parents insist that her college fund was always available to her—they never took it away.
While there have been allegations of abuse one has to admit it’s suspicious when someone seeks money rather than criminal charges. Rachel alleged that her parents called her names like “porky” that forced her to become bulimic and that her father “kissed her on the cheek inappropriately.” The latter accusation seems too vague and unclear, however the former, that her parents made her bulimic, seems suspicious after the court revealed a phone message in which Rachel admits she was pretending to be bulimic and wanted to shit on her mother’s face.
Here is the phone message Rachel Canning left for her mother.
“Hi mom just to let you know you’re a real f**king winner aren’t you you think you’re so cool and you think you caught me throwing up in the bathroom after eating an egg frittatta, yeah sorry that you have problems now and you need to harp on mine because i didn’t and i actually took a s*** which i really just wanna s*** all over your face right now because it looks like that anyway, anyway i f***ing hate you and um I’ve written you off so don’t talk to me, don’t do anything I’m blocking you from just about everything, have a nice life, bye mom.”
“Have you ever in your experience seen such gross disrespect for a parent? I don’t see it in my house,” Judge Peter Bogaard at the Morris County, New Jersey court said. The judge noted that Rachel Canning’s behavior has been suspicious this year as well.
“Judge Peter Bogaard noted that Rachel Canning’s behavior over the past year has been in question — one or two school suspensions, drinking, losing her captaincy on the cheerleading squad and being kicked out of the campus ministry.”
If you believe that Rachel was abused then acting out is probably consistent with having experienced that, however, it seems as though, from the voicemail, she may have been pretending. The Morris Court judge said, “‘What kind of parents would the Canning’s be if they didn’t try to set down some strict rules?”
Here’s an email where Rachel admits the reason she won’t come home is because her parents don’t want her to see her boyfriend.
However here is Rachel’s side of the story:
“As I was growing up my mother was always demeaning to me. She called me ‘fat’ and ‘porky’. My father demanded that I get a basketball scholarship. My father spent a lot of time with me on weekends while I was in basketball tournaments. My mother seemed angry about this. He forbade me to have a boyfriend when I was a high school freshman, and threatened to beat him up.”
This all sounds like regular obnoxious parent stuff. There’s a difference between your parents being assholes and being abusive.
“In sophomore year I developed an eating disorder and my weight dropped to 105 pounds. In my junior year, I was down to 92 pounds. My mother kept screaming at me, saying I was mentally messed up. My father was angry that I wasn’t going to be able to play basketball because I needed to gain weight. My father gave me the sense that he was inappropriately affectionate with me. He mentioned frequently that my relationship in his eyes was not one of a daughter, but more than that. In the summer before my senior year he got me drunk at a wedding and said I was his date. He kept giving me shots and mango martinis. I blacked out that night and woke up at the toilet bowl in our room and he was in bed. He constantly put his arm around me in public and would kiss me on the cheek.”
Your father telling you you’re his date to a wedding is not actually inappropriate, nor is putting his shoulder around his daughter, nor is kissing his daughter on the cheek. I am not defending her parents, her parents sound like they have failed to understand their daughter, getting your teenage daughter puke-wasted is outrageous and forcing your kids to play sports that they don’t want to play can be problematic. While I wonder what kind of parent allows his daughter to get so drunk, it appears to be an isolated incident and her allegations of abuse just don’t seem to have legs to stand on. She isn’t actually accusing her father of sexual abuse, just of being a weirdo. And again she is seeking money not criminal charges.
The judge urged Rachel to drop the second hearing of the case because she didn’t have enough evidence.
Rachel’s mother, Elizabeth says Rachel does have an eating disorder. She says that Rachel wanted to go on a diet for prom but then took on more extreme measures:
“Upon our return from vacation that year, I had realized that Rachel was more than ‘dieting.’ I went through Rachel’s room and pulled out two extra-large garbage bags filled with vomit. She confronted her daughter who admitted it tearfully. During this time, I brought her to various therapists, who diagnosed her with anorexia and bulimia. I was and am her biggest supporter in trying to get her treated. Because of Rachel’s eating disorders and my determination to get her healthy, Rachel developed hatred toward me.”
The trouble is that both parties stories could be true. When you have disordered eating it’s common to deny help or that you have an issue. It’s also largely possible that some misguided comments about Rachel’s weight could have sparked the disorder. When you’re in a dark place in your life the people who want to help you can seem like your worst enemies but, it’s also wholly possible, that her parents actually are her worse enemies. However, when we bring that voicemail into the mix where she denies her bulimia and makes it seem as though she is taunting or manipulating her mother by scaring her with this disease, it makes things even more unclear.
Judge Bogaard said, “We have to ask ourselves, do we want to establish a precedent where parents live in constant fear of enforcing the basic rules of the house. If they set a rule a child doesn’t like, the child can move out, move in with another family, seek child support, cars, cell phone and a few hundred grand to go to college.”
So what do we believe? The judge clearly believes the parents are innocent. Here’s what I think: I think Rachel is hurting. Whether or not her parents are the source of that pain remains to be seen. Rachel seems to be drawing exaggerated conclusions from some questionable and sometimes seemingly random incidents in her life. I don’t doubt that Rachel really feels this strongly about her parents and I don’t doubt that her parents might be hard to live with. Her parents never took away her college tuition, they only tried to take away her boyfriend and get her counseling. Are these parents negligent or are they trying to discipline their daughter? There isn’t much evidence to support the former claim and more evidence to support the latter.
To me, this doesn’t sound like a legal matter it sounds like a family matter that could be resolved with counselors (that they can clearly afford) and airing out some grievances.
[Via. Daily Mail]