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You! be the Judge
“Benjie! Cats can’t be purple!” Daphne frowned at her little brother.
Their mother Martina overheard them. “Daphne, Benjie is just expressing what’s in his imagination.”
“Well, he doesn’t have to hog the whole wall,” Daphne complained.
“Now, Benjie, share that wall with your sister…” Suddenly Martina panicked. “Wall?!”
She ran to the living room. But her husband Sydney got there first.
“NO DRAWING ON THE WALLS!” Sydney yelled.
Martina tried to cut in. “What beautiful drawings! Now, how about drawing on paper instead?”
Martina turned to Sydney. “You know I don’t like the word ‘no’. We practice collaborative parenting.”
“Maybe that’s why we have such unruly children.”
“They just need a little gentle guidance.”
“What they need is discipline. GO TO YOUR ROOMS RIGHT NOW!” Sydney sent his two terrified toddlers running.
Martina was outraged. “You are crushing their burgeoning souls!”
“They need to follow rules and accept limits!”
“Do you want to raise enlightened beings or soldiers?”
Sydney shook his head in frustration. “This is ridiculous…we’re getting nowhere…”
“Yes, let’s discuss this another time.”
“I don’t think so.”
Martina stared at him. “We have to find a common ground here.”
“I think we have less and less common ground…”
“What are you saying?”
“Look, Martina, this isn’t working. I want a divorce.”
“You suddenly want to break up our family because of a few disagreements.”
“I’ve been thinking about it for a year now. It’s over.”
Sydney filed for divorce. Martina was devastated.
The judge ordered parenting classes.
“But that’s ridiculous!” Martina and Sydney cried. “We’re fighting this!”
IN THE COURTROOM
The parents were on the same side for once. “This is Big Brother interference with our rights as parents. We should be free to raise our children as we see fit.”
The government disagreed. “We’re just trying to give parents tools to be effective with their children, especially during the trauma of divorce.”
Should the parenting courses be obligatory? You! Be The Judge. Then look below for the decision.
THE DECISION
“Take the courses,” held the Judge. “This protects the children’s interests. The government has a legitimate interest in aiming to maintain family harmony through divorce. It’s not an interference because parents can always ignore the advice.”

Today’s column is based on a case from Connecticut. The characters and the scenarios are fictional. Any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. The information in this column does not constitute legal advice. If you have a similar problem, consult a lawyer in your jurisdiction. Elissa Bernstein is a lawyer and internationally syndicated columnist. Copyright 2010 Haika Enterprises, all rights reserved. BC24-9.
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