Rachel Canning: Does Eighteen Mean Adulthood?

Rachel Canning: Does Eighteen Mean Adulthood?

Nela & Boris at Lighthouse Point complex - Collingwood, Ontario (August 2nd, 2008)

Image by SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget

When 1World asked the question “Should parents be legally obligated to pay for kids older than 18?”, I never dreamed there would be much of an outcry. To me, eighteen does not mean adulthood. But judging by the comments on our Facebook page, some readers feel pretty strongly about the topic that has been brought to the forefront by 18-year-old Rachel Canning who sued her parents for living expenses. Here is a response by Sharon Blankenship Douthit:

“What a twit. Her parents should bring a suit against her for what it cost to raise her fancy behind to 18. And the friends father that has taken her case for parental interference. I hope she gets the boyfriend her parents don’t like, they have a daughter just like her cause paybacks are hell.”

Since I am a parent, I’d like to take a moment to step back and play devil’s advocate. I have two grown kids in college and another one who has been working for a couple of years. They are fine young men, but I would not expect them to fully support themselves at this time. First, laws regarding emancipation may have been created in a world that no longer exists. In 1950 it was possible to graduate from high school and get a self-supporting job. This is not the case today. Many college graduates today have trouble getting a job that will cover basic living expenses.

Second, 18 is a pretty arbitrary age for emancipation. Currently, with new laws in many states delaying the enrollment for kindergarten and first grade, it is quite possible that kids will turn 18 during their senior year in high school. Young adults are no longer able to drink alcohol until the age of 21, indicating that full maturity is not reached until then. We have determined that until the age of 26, individuals should be able to be on their parent’s insurance policy.

 On March 4, a New Jersey judge denied Canning’s claim that her parents should pay for her living expenses. “Do we want to establish a precedent where parents living in constant fear of establishing basic rules of the house?” Superior Court Judge Peter Bogaard said. A ruling on the issue of college tuition was postponed. Perhaps Rachel Canning goes a little too far by suing her parents for college tuition in addition to living expenses while she is in high school. But perhaps her claim that the home was abusive and caused her to become bulimic is true, also.

What is clear is that a vast majority (88%) of 1World voters think that parents are not legally obligated to support their children after the age of 18.

What do you think?

Rachel Canning: Does Eighteen Mean Adulthood?
Article Name
Rachel Canning: Does Eighteen Mean Adulthood?
Rachel Canning recently sued her parents for living expenses and college tuition. A judge recently ruled against her. Do you think she was right?

Jackie Norgord

Expert Community Manager at 1World Online
Jackie Norgord is the Expert Community Manager at 1World Online. She lives in Silicon Valley and holds a BA in English from University of Wisconsin and an MA-TESOL from San José State. In addition to teaching writing, she enjoys travel around the SF Bay and beyond, fine dining, and sport in the Sierras.