Would you refuse to pay your teen son's bail to teach him a lesson?

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A mother in Australia refused to pay her teenage son's bail and is calling on other parents to stop supporting their children when they break the law. I read about this family drama at News.com.au, and it reminded me of complaints I've heard about "modern parents" from older educators and others who grew up in the 30s, 40s, and perhaps 50s as well.

I remember my mother, a retired schoolteacher, complaining about what she called "these new parents" as far back as the mid 70s. She'd come home and say that she increasingly observed parents, usually mothers, verbally attack teachers who reported the bad behavior of these parents' children. Usually this type of mother would say something like, "Don't you talk about my child!"

I haven't seen one in a while, but I used to see these types of mothers sometimes as well. If an adult neighbor saw the mother's child doing something like throwing rocks and told him or her to stop, then the mother would yell at the neighbor, "Don't you tell my child what to do!" You know, it sort of throws a monkey wrench in the whole "it takes a village to raise a child" philosophy if mothers object to village participation.

My mother said that when she was a girl, parents didn't object to others correcting their children or reporting their children's misbehavior. If the teacher said you did something wrong, then you were in trouble at school and at home, and that was that.

Furthermore, my parents practiced this philosophy with my brother and me. If we behaved badly then we'd better pray no one reported our bad behavior to our parents, and when I say no one, I mean no one. My parents did not reserve their disciplining us for teacher reports only. If an adult church member or a neighbor said we'd behaved inappropriately, then we'd face the consequences.

As a result, we we didn't "act out" often. (My brother says he got into more trouble than I did, however.) Also, we were afraid to lie; therefore, we didn't deny bad reports. By and large if someone said we did something wrong and we did, we admitted it. However, we were not known for misbehaving in public. I admit that at home I got in trouble for being a "smart mouth."

I do remember two instances in which I was accused of something I did not do. I was punished for the first incident, but my mother apologized sincerely when the truth came out later that I had not done what I'd been accused of doing.

I was not chastised for the second incident. When I said I didn't do what I'd been accused of doing and also when my parents realized that the authority figure based her accusation on something another student said and not something she herself had witnessed, my parents supported my innocence.

Still, I had this uncomfortable sense of always being watched at school, at church, and walking down the street because it seemed like everyone in New Orleans knew someone from my family. Of course, that wasn't true, but it sure did feel like it. Also, I remember my mother telling me, "You don't know the sounds of love when you hear them." She said this usually when I complained about correction.

Do you know your own child?

If you know your child and he or she's accused of wrongdoing, you usually know if the accusation rings true. However, when the child adamantly denies he or she's done anything wrong, then the parent's left in a quandary. Do we as parents believe our children or not?

Yet there are incidents in which the parent knows his/her child is guilty. What do you make of parents who defend and support their children, whether minors or adults, when their offspring admit they did the crime or committed the offense of which they've been accused?

While the Australian mother shuns her son hoping he'll straighten out, we all probably know of parents who "fix" their children's mistakes, cover them up, and would do anything to keep them from facing harsh consequences for their deeds. The mother in Australia, however, said she wants to stop her child before he does something worse:

"The police do the best they can, I think it's time these parents woke up to themselves," the woman said.

Son arrested over 'series of offences'

The Bridgewater woman took the radical step after her son was arrested over a series of alleged offences last week. She has also refused to take her son's phone calls from the Hobart remand centre.

She does not want to reveal her identity for fear of reprisals.

"At the moment I am the worst mum in Bridgewater because I am not standing by his case . . . but I want my son off the streets while he's a thief before he becomes a murderer," she said. (News.com.au)

Do you think she's the "worst mother" for not standing by her son or is she a mother rightfully practicing "tough love" under the roughest circumstances?


Nordette Adams' personal blog is at this link.

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