End of story? Happy Ending? Maybe not….
If we were to listen to the media, and take the nationwide coverage of this family squabble gone viral at face value, then yes, this is simply a story about a spoiled teenager with considerable resources throwing a young adult version of a temper tantrum.
But, what if we rewrote the headlines like this:
“Teenage girl turns to the legal system in a desperate cry for help.” or
“Claims of abuse and abandonment surround teen vs. parent lawsuit”
Sounds quite different….doesn’t it?
I am in no way saying that Rachel is not suffering from “affluenza” or an exaggerated sense of entitlement. What I am saying is that usually, when a child goes to such an extreme as to leave her home and sue her parents, there is probably more there than meets the eye.
Said another way, there are two sides to every story, and it takes a discerning and critical look to clearly see both. It is my business to look below the surface, and find the meaning beneath the actions. The truth is not always the sensationalized stuff that sells papers, but it is the only thing that really solves the problems and answers the questions.
Let’s look at the facts. Rachel comes from an intact family and does very well in school. Claims from school representatives, people who see Rachel every day, describe an abusive, controlling relationship. Her parent’s state otherwise talking about a teenager “spun out of control” and refusing to “abide by household rules they considered liberal.”
Ok, so there has been conflict in the home. This conflict could be normal, or it could represent a bigger problem. If we look deeper, we find a teen with a history of an eating disorder. Many eating disorders have abuse, or at the very least, low self-esteem at their core. Is that the case here? It’s also probable that Rachel knows and understands the legal system, as her father is a retired Police Chief. Is it possible that Rachel felt so trapped and alone; her teenage brain reasoned the only way to cope was through the legal system?
Remember that Rachel did not seek out media attention, and her attorney has not spoken to the press since she came home. Her parent’s attorney on the other hand used the media to help bury any underlying root cause by saying, “ She’s home. Respect it. Let’s not figure out what the motivation was.”
Not figure out what the motivation was? That’s the key to resolving whatever is the real issue!
So, maybe this child is a spoiled brat. Maybe she did refuse to listen to her parent’s rules. But, many teens are spoiled, entitled, and ignore rules as if they expect them to disappear like a Snap chat post. It is a very troubled teen that goes to the extreme that Rachel did. Why did she do that? Why is she continuing to seek out guardianship instead of just returning home?
I hope these questions are sought out and answered by those helping Rachel now, and she is ultimately able to resolve her differences with her parents and whatever other personal challenges she is facing.