Editorial, News, Opinion

EDIT: No chores, no college

New Jersey high school senior Rachel Canning hated doing chores around the house. She also hated coming home before curfew and loved her boyfriend dearly. So, when her parents asked her to wash the dishes, come home by 11 p.m. and cut ties with her boo, Rachel took matters into her own hands on her 18th birthday and moved into her best friend Jamie Inglesino’s home.

Rachel claims her parents “abandoned” her and kicked her out of their home because she would not adhere to their “unreasonable” rules. Her parents Sean and Elizabeth Canning, on the other hand, said Rachel voluntarily left their home in October and was never told to leave. As of Tuesday afternoon Morris County Court Judge Peter Bogaard ruled against Rachel Canning, saying that a ruling in her favor would set a bad precedent by setting limits on parenting.

Although Rachel did not want to do menial tasks around the house for her parents, she still expected them to pay for her college education. Since they refuse to do so, she is now suing her parents and accusing them of flouting their legal obligations to financially support her and pay for her college tuition.

Jamie’s father, John Inglesino, former Morris County Freeholder, is funding this lawsuit. Rachel is not only suing her parents for not giving her access to her college fund but also for more than $5,000 in an outstanding private high school bill, transportation and legal fees — totaling more than $12,000.

According to New Jersey law, minors are not automatically emancipated from their parents care once they turn 18. However, if the 18-year-old voluntarily absolves his or herself from his or her home, then his or her parents no longer have a legal obligation as a guardian. So, the current legal dispute in this case is about whether Canning voluntarily emancipated herself from her parent’s legal care because, if this is so, her parents are technically not financially responsible for her.

In a Tuesday New York Daily News story, Canning’s lawyer said her client, “has not ‘moved beyond [her parents’] sphere of influence’ and per New Jersey law may be deemed non-emancipated … But the attorney for Mr. and Mrs. Canning … is claiming Rachel removed herself from that ‘sphere of influence’ when she voluntary left her parents’ home.”

Well, here’s an idea, Rachel. If you want to go to college so badly, why don’t you take the money that Mr. Inglesino is willing to pay for this lawsuit, and put it toward your tuition instead? Or would that option not get you enough attention?

By putting their foot down, Mr. and Mrs. Canning are finally doing their teenager a service by teaching her she cannot always get what she wants.

Yes, college and higher education should be a right guaranteed to every child. However, unfortunately in America it is not, even to those who genuinely deserve it. If Rachel wants to leave her parents home, yet wants to join the 20 million students that American Student Assistance report attend college in America, she should take out loans like the other 12 million American students.

Unlike college tuition, all children should be entitled to unconditional love and support. But, at the same time, the line has to be drawn somewhere. If Rachel would not do simple chores for her parents, why would she expect them to pay for college tuition?

On the other hand, people can argue that Rachel’s self-entitlement had to come from somewhere. And whenever someone sees a fault in a child, often the first place they will point their finger is at their parents. One could blame Mr. and Mrs. Canning for being too lenient, too strict, too absent or too overbearing.

Yet, on the surface, it seems as though Rachel’s parents really tried setting her up for a successful life. She lives in an upper-middle class town in New Jersey, goes to an expensive private catholic school and already had a college fund set up for her. Her parents had the intent of supporting her, but, as it seems, she just made caring for her unbearable.

Rachel claims that by not paying for her college tuition, her parents are keeping her from her goal of being a biomedical engineer. Well, Rachel, riddle your parents this: If you won’t do something as simple as chores, how do you expect to complete an MD degree with an extensive understanding of advanced technology, direct patient care and clinical research? You aren’t entitled to college if you refuse to compromise and work for it.

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