Suing your Mom

The latest violation of the Commandment regarding honoring your father and your mother (though the divorced father is behind it):

Raised in a $1.5 million Barrington Hills home by their attorney father, two grown children have spent the last two years pursuing a unique lawsuit against their mom for “bad mothering” damages allegedly caused when she failed to buy toys for one and sent another a birthday card he didn’t like.

The alleged offenses include failing to take her daughter to a car show, telling her then-7-year-old son to buckle his seat belt or she would contact police, “haggling” over the amount to spend on party dresses and calling her daughter at midnight to ask that she return home from celebrating homecoming.

Last week, when the court record stood about a foot tall, an Illinois appeals court dismissed the case, finding that none of the mother’s conduct was “extreme or outrageous.” To rule in favor of her children, the court found, “could potentially open the floodgates to subject family child rearing to … excessive judicial scrutiny and interference.”

In 2009, the children, represented by three attorneys including their father, Steven A. Miner, sued their mother, Kimberly Garrity. Steven II, now 23, and his sister Kathryn, now 20, sought more than $50,000 for “emotional distress.”

Miner and Garrity were married for a decade before she filed for divorce in 1995, records show.

Among the exhibits filed in the case is a birthday card Garrity sent her son, who in his lawsuit sought damages because the card was “inappropriate” and failed to include cash or a check. He also alleged she failed to send a card for years or, while he was in college, care packages.

On the front of the American Greetings card is a picture of tomatoes spread across a table that are indistinguishable except for one in the middle with craft-store googly eyes attached.

“Son I got you this Birthday card because it’s just like you … different from all the rest!” the card reads. On the inside Garrity wrote, “Have a great day! Love & Hugs, Mom xoxoxo.”

In court papers, Garrity’s attorney Shelley Smith said the “litany of childish complaints and ingratitude” in the lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt by Garrity’s ex-husband to “seek the ultimate revenge” of having her children accuse her of “being an inadequate mother.”

“It would be laughable that these children of privilege would sue their mother for emotional distress, if the consequences were not so deadly serious” for Garrity, Smith wrote. “There is no insurance for this claim, so (Garrity) must pay her legal fees, while (the children) have their father for free.” . . .

Steven A. Miner [the father and one of his children's attorneys in the case] wrote that the case is no different from a patient suing a physician “for bad doctoring.”

The children “do not view their (lawsuit) as an attack on mothering, but rather on accountability,” he wrote. “Everyone makes mistakes, but … there must be accountability for actions. Parenting is no different.”

via Children sue mom over party dresses, birthday card and toys – chicagotribune.com.

HT:  Kirk Anderson

Tiger Mothers vs. Vocation

One of the best things I’ve read on the Tiger Mother controversy is this column by Pam Nielsen in the Lutheran Witness:

If you are a parent, your children are your vocation and your most important calling. God sets the standard for you: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). To raise your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord is to raise children with God’s Word, in His Church, where His gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation are given to all who believe. These are the “first things” for Christian moms, dads and children.

In sharp contrast, Ms. Chua and many others have determined quite a different standard or set of “first things” in raising their children. We’re familiar with them because we have been tempted to make them primary in our homes too: good grades, first place, social standing, perfect performances and winning championships. These are the world’s marks of success, but they are not God’s. In our efforts to achieve these worldly standards, sometimes the “first thing” of bringing our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord becomes a second, third or fourth thing.

How? When we frequently skip church and Sunday School for team practice or tournaments. When we complain that Pastor’s assignments and requirements for confirmation are too much, even as we pay for extra tutoring in math for our child. When we disdain helping our children with learning Bible verses and the catechism while spending long hours creating the perfect science project.

The doctrine of vocation puts these things in their proper order. Our efforts are always in view of who we are in Christ, forgiven and saved ones, who share their God-given gifts with their neighbor. Practices, tournaments and tutors are not bad things; they just aren’t the “first things.” It’s God-pleasing to urge our children to do their best in all that they attempt, not for their own gain or glory, but for the good of their neighbor. The child who excels in math and science might help find a cure for a disease or design a new safety feature for a car. The child gifted in music provides beauty and joy and might one day lead the church’s song. The child that learns to condition his body physically might become the soldier or fireman that saves someone’s life.

God in Christ gave His life for us and our children. We teach them to do their best, not for themselves but for others. In living out our vocations, God provides countless opportunities to tell our neighbor about the “First Thing,” His Son, Jesus Christ, who saves us from sin and death.

via The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod – The Lutheran Witness.

Motherhood as vocation

Did you know that Mollie Hemingway, the confessional Lutheran journalist, has a column in Christianity Today?  Here are some links, going back awhile: Throwing Inkwells: Mollie Ziegler Hemingway | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.

I’m glad she has that forum.  Other Christians could benefit greatly from what many Lutherans just keep to themselves.  Here she is on how the doctrine of vocation can help stressed out, guilt-ridden mothers deal with “the mommy wars“:

How should Christians think about the Mommy Wars? Vocationally. You may have heard vocation used as a synonym for occupation. But Martin Luther used it to talk about every Christian’s calling to particular offices through which God works to care for his creation. We serve our neighbors as employees, yes, but also as citizens, parishioners, and family members. Through our web of relationships, we are the instruments by which God works in the world.

So, for instance, God heals us by giving us doctors and nurses. He feeds us by giving us farmers and bakers. He gives us earthly order through our governors and legislators, and he gives us life through our parents. God is providing all these gifts—but we receive them from our neighbors.

Parenting is one of the most important vocations we can be given. Yes, the obligations of childrearing are difficult, but when the duties are fulfilled with the knowledge that we are doing the will of God, our reward is great. Luther wrote that fathers should not complain when they have to rock a baby, change his diaper, or care for the baby’s mother, but instead should view each act as a holy blessing.

God has placed me as the mother of my children. So long as I’m not sinning, I am free to serve my children as I see fit. I have the responsibility to feed my children, but I can fulfill that task by slaving away in the kitchen to produce a five-course meal or by ordering out for pizza. I have the responsibility of making sure my children are educated, but I have the freedom to do that on my own or by sending them to whichever school my husband and I pick.

Sure, we all have a role to play in upholding community standards and making sure our neighbors’ children have their needs met, but we should also be careful not to intrude on others’ vocations. Just as we wouldn’t rearrange colleagues’ offices or tinker with their computers, neither should we presume to know best how they should manage their families.

So if you’re an overwhelmed mother, wave the white flag of surrender in the Mommy Wars and enjoy your vocation and the freedom it provides.

It’s nature to nurture

The conventional view in academia today is that sex is biological, but gender is a cultural construction.  That is, roles that are attached to being male or female are nothing more than the impositions of culture.  Well, I just observed my 15-month-old granddaughter picking up her first doll.   She had played with teddy bears and the like, but she never even saw a doll that looked like a baby.  This one wasn’t hers.  But she picked it up, cradled it, supported its head, and kissed it.  How did she know to do this?  No one taught her to.  She is not particularly receptive to culture at her age.  Her brother, at the ripe age of three, had no interest in that particular toy, even though he has some inchoate notions of babies from the existence of little sister.  But she knew immediately how to play mommy.


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