It's 11:00...Do You Know Where Your Children Are?
Somewhere along the way over the past 30+ years, it stopped being a parent’s responsibility to know where their children are in the middle of the night. Even those who seem to be fine, respectable parents are finding themselves in tragic situations asking, “how could this have happened to us”, yet nobody seems to be reminding them that they, and only they, are responsible for their children’s well-being.
I’m not talking about child abductions or runaways or even drive-by shootings. I’m talking about 13, 14, 15 year old children being left on their own in the wee hours of the nighttime, only to prove to their parents that they are children... and children shouldn’t be left to their own devises in the middle of the night.
The other night on the O’reilly show, an attorney representing the family of a 15 year-old Irish girl who became drunk on a family vacation aboard a cruise ship and fell overboard to her death at 2:00 AM, described the cruise ship as “lawless palace” and is filing a lawsuit against the company because they…the cruise ship…NOT the parents allowed the 15 year old girl to get dangerously drunk. The attorney described the folks as a “fine Irish family” who were on a vacation with 20+ other members of their extended family. The attorney basically dodged questions about why the girl was unsupervised and given the opportunity in the first place.
As a parent, this concerns me. As a parent who has taken her teenaged children on cruise vacations, it’s appalling. This is disturbing on many levels, but at the very least, here are the issues:
The attorney stated that she was petitioning the government to force cruise ships to not allow children to purchase alcohol on the boats. Guess what? They already do that! In fact, if the parents had been paying attention when they boarded and read the literature mailed to them before they got on the ship, they would have known that you may even eliminate your child’s ability to charge ANYTHING on their shipboard card. Cruise ships don’t allow you to spend cash – you must charge everything to your stateroom. The cards are basically a credit card with no limit. You wouldn’t hand one of those to your 15 year old, so it’s beyond me why anyone would not at the very least limit what the child could purchase. My kids didn’t have a dime of credit on their cards. If they wanted to buy something, they had to ask me to use my card for the purchase. That allowed me to keep tabs on what they were buying and how much they were spending.
Bill O’reilly at least had the nerve to ask the attorney what this kid was doing out drinking at 2:00 am. The attorney responded by saying the kid was drinking at 11 pm – and had fallen overboard at 2 am. O’reilly backed down, so I’ll go ahead and ask the question…”ok, so she was drinking at 11 pm and fell overboard at 2 am – what the heck is the difference? Where the heck were her parents??” The parents had to be awakened to be informed that their child had fallen overboard while throwing up over the rail. What the heck were these people doing sleeping in their stateroom while their 15 year old daughter was out partying?? I may not be getting any nominations for mother of the year, but I can promise you that aside from the Disney Cruise we took, when my youngest daughter attended children’s programs where they sent me away with a pager in case she wanted to leave (because she wasn’t allowed to leave unless accompanied by a parent), my kids were by my side every waking moment while we were cruising and their butts were tucked into the bed next to mine when I went to sleep. It is absolutely preposterous to blame the cruise ship for these parents obvious neglect. 15 year old kids will find trouble if they are not supervised. PERIOD!
There is a reason why children are not allowed to make adult decisions until they are 18 years of age (and if it were up to me, the age would be raised to 21). Parents have an obligation to their children to pay attention to what they’re doing. When you take a family vacation, the idea is supposed to be to spend time with your family. If you want to ditch your kids, leave them at home with the grandparents. A cruise ship is no more a babysitter than an amusement park or a zoo. You just don’t leave your kids unattended for more than a short period of time when there are obvious dangers around you.
Another case came to my attention today regarding a 14 year old girl who was one of the victims of the shooting in Seattle last weekend. In this article
The youngsters father describes how he dropped her off at a bowling ally the night before so she could meet friends to go to a rave. A rave, people! She was dressed like a zombie, so he didn’t kiss her goodbye, for fear of smearing her make-up or getting it on himself. The article goes on to praise the girl for being such a good Samaritan, which I’m sure she was, and describes how the father learned of his daughter’s murder the next day. The article says, “By Saturday morning, her father was worried.”
So, let me get this straight. You drop your 14 year old kid off at a bowling ally, knowing she’s going to another location (one which you have not taken her to, so you can’t even go there to look for her if she fails to return). You’re aware that she is planning to attend a very grown-up event and then when she doesn’t come home, all night long, you begin to get worried in the morning.
Are these people out of their friggin’ minds?
What’s interesting about both these cases is that the media hasn’t said word one about the parent’s failure to properly supervise their children. Both these kids should have been in bed by 11 pm, not hanging out with people who are not looking out for their best interests, and left to stay out all night without so much as a “don’t you dare!” from their parents.
Go ahead. Tell me I’m naïve and over-protective. My kids are alive.