SHOULD A JUDGE OVER RULE A PARENT?

Many parents across the country are shocked and angered by a judge siding with a 12-year-old girl from the Gatineau against her father.

According to court proceedings, the father had banned his daughter from going on line after she posted photographs of herself on an Internet dating site. Then, after she allegedly fought with her stepmother, he told her she could not go on an end-of-year school trip.  At that point the girl acquired a lawyer and took her father to court.

It should be noted that the girl’s parents have been divorced for 10 years. While the father prohibited his daughter from going on the graduation trip, his divorced wife approved it. So it might be argued that Judge Suzanne Tessier was simply trying to protect the child’s interests from being submerged beneath a stalemate between divorced parents.

But that’s not how many Canadians saw it. The Montreal Gazette thundered: “By ruling that the father of a 12-year-old girl had abused his authority by forbidding his daughter to go on a class outing because she had disobeyed his order to spend less time on the Internet, Judge Tessier diminished not only the authority of all parents, but also the majesty of the law she serves.”

The Gazette continues: “De minimis non curat lex” – the law does not concern itself with trifles – and what could be more trivial than a pre-adolescent’s whining about missing a school trip?”

This personal example may have some relevance here. We travelled to high school by bus. The bus was occasionally late getting home because we stayed in the high school town for a movie. But during Lent my father would not permit me to stay for a movie. The problem was that if one student objected to staying for the movie, the bus could not stay, and all the other bus students were forced to miss the movie. Not a happy scenario for me.

In the case of the Gatineau girl her father has announced he will repeal the ruling.

What do you think?

Should the girl have been able to go on her graduation trip as the judge ruled?

Or should she have been prohibited from going as her father demanded?

14 Comments »

  1. 1
    SUZANNE Says:

    I think this is absolutely wrong-headed. There are so many responsible parties here. The mother: for going over the dad’s head. The mom’s lawyer: for taking the case. The judge: for allowing this to go to trial and issuing a ruling.

    *Even if* we think the punishment is severe– tough luck. Parents have to have some “margin of error”. As long as the punishment does no real harm to the girl– like he doesn’t beat her up or harm her– it should be entirely the parent’s call.

    Many of us overreact as parents. Is every “overreaction” now actionable? Are we going to have to talk to a lawyer every time we want to ground our kids?

    Maybe we need another law. It sucks, but maybe that’s what we need.

  2. 2
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    We already hace various laws protecting children from physical and psychological abuse. We certainly do not need more such as the “spanking law” promoted by senator Hervieux-Payette.
    There is an African proverb, or so have I been said, that says: “It takes a village to raise a child”. Never have I heard that a nation or a government was required.
    As for the judgement in question, the good judge simply lacked judgement. If she felt the child was being abused, she should have deferred the case to the proper child protection authorities for assessment and disposition.
    The more restrictions imposed on parental authority, the less will children be properly brought up. We have enough as it is.

  3. 3
    John Says:

    This is wrong on so many levels that it’s hard to generate a rational response.

    At the time of the divorce the father was granted custody of the girl. With that custody came the responsibility and authority to raise the girl which he has been doing for the past ten years. For the mother now to try and usurp that authority (because the girl is upset) is wrong and for a judge to support that action is just plain stupid.

  4. 4
    Lloyd Says:

    When an outsider believes (s)he knows more about how discipline should be handled in the home, that person has more than a few screws loose. My guess is that the girl’s lawyer, and the judge, were probably smoking a bit too much crack, and drinking a little more than their required VO allotment.

    When I as a kid, I called the cops on my dad once. After realizing I was in the wrong, I apologized to the cop for bringing him to my parents’ house. Dad proceeded to read me the Riot Act.

    And 2 years ago, I kept my eldest child home from a field trip because she misbehaved in school and at home. Despite others’ objections, I wasn’t going to budge.

    At least here, in the USA, they haven’t made it a “law” that you can’t spank your kids. You Canadians need to tell those judges and other left-leaning scum in your midst to get the F— out of your business! YOUR home, YOUR rules, YOUR way!

    They say “it takes a village…” Looks like the village idiots(such as the judge and lawyer mentioned earlier) are the ones trying to raise the rugrats.

  5. 5

    Lloyd:

    Thanks for sharing your personal experiences with us. They are very illuminating.

  6. 6
    Candace Says:

    I was shocked when I read the report, correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t the girl now live with her mother? What is going to happen when the mother has to ground the daughter now that the daughter knows what to do?

  7. 7
    Lloyd Says:

    In reply to Candace’s posting… God help the girl’s mama.

  8. 8

    Candace:-

    The situation, as I understand it, is that the girl is currently living with her mother but the father has legal custody.

    I think it is extremely unlikely that the girl would take her mother to court and if she did, I am confident the court would not entertain her request.

    Many thanks for your comment.

  9. 9
    John Says:

    “I think it is extremely unlikely that the girl would take her mother to court”

    Maybe I’m missing something here. What is there regarding the relationship with the mother that indicates the girl would treat her any different than the father….given the same circumstances?

  10. 10

    John:-

    It is not the girl’s relationship with her mother that is determinative here; it is the attitude of the court. My guess is that another judge would not hear the case.

  11. 11
    John Says:

    I would hope your guess would be correct, Neil.
    I am dumbfounded that she found a judge to hear her case this time. It’s a glaring example of a young person who has successfully manipulated a family break-up to get her own way. It happens all the time. Setting one adult against another is a trick that predates adolescence, but seldom does the child get judicial backing for their ploy (except in abusive situations). I still can’t imagine what this judge was thinking.

  12. 12

    John:-

    “I still can’t imagine what this judge was thinking.”

    Neither can I, or most people.

  13. 13
    Lloyd Says:

    In Canadian History/Politics classes in college, I recall that they had this saying in Quebec at one time: “Maîtres chez nous,” which means, “masters in our own house.”

    Whatever happened to the concept of the head of the house, the father of the family, being the master and final authority in his own home?

    I venture to guess that the dishonorable judge must’ve forgotten her history when making that ruling.

  14. 14
    Margaret Murphy Says:

    This was a farsical case.It should never have been brought and only serves to show just how daft the world has become.A twelve year old girl has been allowed to make fools of everyone.They say the Law is an ass and on this occasion it certainly was.I wonder does the learned Judge regret hearing the case? Surely her credibility must now be in question.As far as I can see there are really no winners but I bet the Lawyers made a few dollars. They don’tcall them solicitors for nothing!


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