Bad Mothering Lawsuit: What Will Your Kids Sue You For Someday?

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I’ve seen some stupid lawsuits in my day. I mean, hello, coffee is hot. Unless it’s iced coffee, and then you might be in for a brain freeze if you drink it too quickly. (Consider this your warning.) However, a lawsuit out of Illinois by a pair of “grown,” adult children recently attempted to sue their mom for -- get this -- bad mothering. The judges eventually threw it out, for good reason, but now there’s a general feeling of, “Wait, that can happen?”

The lawsuit stems from a divorce, a custody dispute and what sounds like two rather immature parents not handling their less than ideal situation very well. Add in a pair of children who come off sounding slightly... let’s just say it, spoiled, who were being represented in this lawsuit against their mother by their father and it really doesn’t sound like this is the most functional family on the block. (Then again, whose is?)

Hardly neglectful but possibly stupid, the appeals court said the following about the mother’s parenting skills and decisions:

"At its worst, (the alleged wrongdoing) reflects behavior that is sometimes erratic, sometimes spiteful, sometimes less than fully generous or fully sensitive to the material and emotional needs of her children. But by no means does the nature and quality of this conduct fall outside 'all possible bounds of decency.'"

Whew. At least this court case didn’t set a precedent for every parent to second guess their every decision wondering if it would be held against them in a lawsuit somewhere down the road. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t keep our kids’ best interest at heart when deciding whether to ground them, take away a privilege or, you know, tell them to put on their seat belts like this mom did. But, let’s face it, as long as we’re not neglecting or harming our children, we’re all just flubbing along this journey together.

So I got to thinking: I wonder what my kids would sue me for doing wrong -- thus far. Here’s what I came up with -- thus far.

My Trusty Gavel

  • I failed to breastfeed my oldest son. I then nursed our youngest son for just shy of two years. Obviously I showed preferential treatment, right?
  • Recently, I have had the audacity to make my youngest son dress himself knowing full well that he can do it. Oops, there goes that preferential treatment.
  • I wouldn’t let them play outside in the rain -- in the middle of a lightning storm.
  • I yelled -- loudly -- the first time our oldest son took off his seat belt while in the moving car. I should say, only time. Because he’s never done it again. Possibly because I've so emotionally scarred him.
  • Remember that time I locked the kid in the car? EMOTIONAL TRAUMA!
  • A long list of offensive foods that includes vegetables, fruits, meats, dairy products and basically anything that wasn’t chocolate ice cream -- or, really, the right kind of chocolate ice cream -- was set in front of them and they were required x-number of bites. Horrifying, all that balanced meal stuff!
  • Speaking of ice cream, I took away privileges for ice cream store trips, video games, time with friends and other things when they did something for which they had already been warned not to do.

Someday, I expect to take away their privileges to use the family vehicle, make them get a job and not fully fund their college educations. I also plan on making them pose for family pictures every year for the rest of their lives, change their underwear daily and respect their elders. I’m a mean, mean mom, let me tell you.

And when I think about it, there was a time when I thought that my mom was the meanest darn mom on the face of the planet. Ditto that for my dad. That’s why this post isn’t what I’d sue them for if I decided to be that stupid. It all boils down to the fact that the large majority of parents are doing as best as they can in any given situation with any given child. We fail sometimes. My parents did. I do. I will. You will. My main goal is to keep my children safe, fed and hopefully, someday, they will be happy, fulfilled adults who don’t need to sue me to make themselves feel better about some perceived slight.

Now, tell me -- and be honest: What would your kids sue you for if given the chance?


Family Section Editor Jenna Hatfield (@FireMom) blogs at Stop, Drop and Blog and The Chronicles of Munchkin Land. She is a writer, editor and photographer.

Photo Credit: steakpinball.

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