Welcome to Liberrants, a blog dedicated to editorials, discussions, and studies of all things libertarian. Don't let the title mislead you; it's merely my attempt to be creative in describing myself as a "hopeful curmudgeon" who embraces the goal of the free, peaceful, economically vibrant society envisioned by America's founding fathers. Jump in! Contribute! Enjoy!

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Location: Tucson, Arizona, United States

A critically thinking curmudgeon whose goal, in addition to creatively venting about the imperfect world in which we live, is to induce critical thinking in others. The ultimate goal is to help bring about a peaceful world in which we can all live in freedom.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Next Time, She Might Get the S**t Beaten Out of Her (If She’s Lucky)

I was deluding myself by trying to banish from my mind the inevitability of it. After all, isn’t it what one would expect from a Gen-Xer with serious maturity issues who has just acquired a new toy to play with?

The title of this post is in reference to the punishment my wife and I would ideally dole out next time, or the fate our daughter might suffer the next time she goes out with a man whom she barely knows. What prompted this specific rant was my daughter having gone out last night (in her car, which she just got a license to drive) to visit “a friend” whom she just met a week or so ago over the Internet (you already know what that implies). Not keeping her cell phone turned on, not answering any of my or her mother’s calls after midnight, not telling us where she was going or who she was going to be with, and generally acting as if she were alone in the universe (forgetting about the fact that her toddler son was asleep upstairs) were what really set me and her mother off. On top of this, she knew she had to be up by 5:30 to get our grandson up and ready for school and to get ready for work. In the spirit of the Saturday Night Live skit of the same name, what was she thinking?

I know what you’re probably thinking; she’s an adult, so why on earth does she need your permission to go out? The answer is that it’s not about getting our “permission” to do anything; it’s about her safety and well being! The D.C. metropolitan area for the last month has been focused on the missing person case of 17-year-old Taylor Behl who disappeared from her dorm room at Virginia Commonwealth University on the night of September 5th and hasn’t been seen or heard from since. Apparently she too decided to go out roving without the company of her friends and didn’t bother to tell anyone of her plans. I think we all know what has happened to her. I think we all know how this is going to end - with her parents sobbing hysterically to the TV cameras after their daughter’s remains are found in a shallow grave somewhere (I’m bracing to witness the grief over Miss Behl’s disappearance firsthand, as a young lady at my church is a close friend of the missing girl). I’m not being macabre about this; I’m expressing every father’s concern for a daughter, no matter what her age, who refuses to acknowledge the potential dangers of her surroundings.

I, for one, don’t ever want to be in the position Miss Behl’s parents are now in, nor would I wish it on my most bitter enemy. I don’t ever want to have the police knock on my front door in the middle of the night to tell me that they’ve found my daughter’s abandoned car, but no trace of her, or that they’ve found her remains out in the boondocks somewhere, taking care to spare me and my wife the details of the horrible things done to her before her death. I do not want to have to look my toddler grandson in the eye and tell him as he sobs hysterically that his mommy isn’t coming home ever again.

What infuriated me the most at 3:40AM this morning as she came nonchalantly traipsing through the back door was her utter lack of concern, either for her own safety or our self-imposed deprivation of sleep while worrying about her welfare. I was surprised to find that, upset as my wife was, I was even more unhinged, my voice rising to decibels rarely expressed at anyone or anything, let alone someone I’m close to. Realizing that I wasn’t going to get anywhere by trying to convince her that she was foolishly putting herself at risk (remember the old saw about the futility of trying to reason with a moron), I hammered again and again at the theme that if she doesn’t give a damn about herself, she has her son to think of. That’s the only man in her life who matters. She certainly doesn’t need to be putting his needs behind those of a shiftless scumbag who just spent a month in jail for allegedly abusing his own three kids whom he apparently cannot or will not support (I didn’t know about this until my wife told me, my daughter knowing what my reaction would have been had I heard about it first). This should give you a clue about her taste in men.

Many libertarians will no doubt disagree with me on this, but I have always been convinced that no matter how “free” we think we are to do whatever we choose, there is nothing that any of us does that does not affect someone else in some way. Most of us would agree that we hope our actions affect others in the most trivial or unnoticeable of ways. I frankly couldn’t care less what my daughter does if it is herself and herself alone for whom she is responsible. However, she has someone else who depends on her, someone to whom she gave life and to whom she is responsible for raising. The flipside of liberty is responsibility; if you claim responsibility or ownership over someone or something, it is your responsibility alone. Otherwise, you are for all practical purposes abandoning any legitimate moral claim to ownership or stewardship of that person or object. Put in terms applicable to the present situation, if you are going to claim to be your son’s mother and demand that the rest of the world recognize your role as sole custodian of him, it is your responsibility to care for him and meet his needs, not the responsibility of society as a whole or of your extended family. Otherwise you should simply relinquish custody to someone who has your son’s best interests in mind. You have no right to impose your responsibilities as a mother upon others on a whim when you suddenly find your role as a mother to be inconvenient (did you think about this when you spread your legs. . .?).

My wife and I are not sure what immediate action we’re going to take over this incident. Since the car lien is in my wife’s name, as is the registration, she has a legitimate right to exercise control over when and how the car is driven. Furthermore, since our daughter is living under our roof as a rent-free tenant (and yet she has the gall to complain when we ask her to foot her share of the bills – more on this in a future rant), we also have the right to demand that she recognize and respect certain rules of the house. Among these are that she respect weekday curfews; that she not bring “guests” whom we do not know to the house unless one of us is present, and that she check with us first before committing herself to working overtime or going out, to verify that we are able to provide transportation for or babysit our grandson (after all, my wife and I have lives and schedules too). In other words, behave like an adult rather than the creature ten years your junior that has taken over your corporeal form.

So far she has pretty consistently refused to cooperate or abide by our rules. At twenty-six going on sixteen, she is playing on our sense of responsibility for our grandson’s well-being, knowing that we would not dare kick her out of the house as long as he is in the picture. While we are not familiar with family law here in the Commonwealth, we are exploring possible options for either forcing her to give us joint custody or taking custody from her entirely in the event her behavior should become so outrageous as to make questionable her fitness as a mother (I’m not holding my breath that this burden of proof will ever be met). We certainly don’t want to go to these extremes and I absolutely do not want to damage BooBoo emotionally by engaging in conflict with his mother. However, our firm belief is that this innocent little boy does not deserve to suffer because of his mother’s terminal immaturity, stupidity or carelessness. If she wants to self-destruct, then amen, so be it. Let her do it alone.

End of Chapter One