She Was Having Fun, Fun, Fun and the Judge Took Her Bentley Away

Yesterday morning I was awakened to the sound of many hovering helicopters. They were press copters and they were staked out in the sky over Paris Hilton’s house, which unfortunately, is way too close to mine. They were there to get a glimpse of the Sheriffs taking her away in handcuffs and back into court. As the day’s drama unfolded, I realized that she is the perfect example of how not to raise teenagers.

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For those of you in the 3% of the world that didn’t catch the drama on TV, here is a quick synopsis. A while ago, this ultra rich, 26 going on 13 year old named Paris was caught driving under the influence and was convicted on a lesser charge, put on probation and had her driving privileges suspended. She was caught, for the second time, for driving on a suspended license, a violation of her probation, and the Judge sentenced her to 45 days in county jail and stipulated, “No work furlough. No work release. No electronic monitoring.” After a couple of days in the slammer, the poor dear was having a fit, so her parents sent their psychiatrist to visit her and he convinced the Sheriff to release her to house arrest for "medical reasons." The Sheriff complied without consulting the Judge who was rightfully furious. The Judge ordered her to be brought back to court where he sent her back to jail, without passing "Go" or collecting $200 (as if she needed it).

From the reporters in court, we learned that during the proceedings she quietly sobbed and kept looking at her parents and mouthed "I love you." After the Judge issued his orders, as she was being led away, she broke out in tears, crying, “It’s not fair. It’s not right!” Her mother shouted out, "Paris, don’t!" Just after the door to the court closed on her, she let out an anguished scream.

It occurred to me that the reason for all these histrionics was that this was probably the first time in her life that Paris has ever been disciplined and wasn’t either rescued by her parents or bring able to buy herself out of having to face the consequences of her irresponsible behavior. Some of the talking heads on TV were bemoaning how poor Paris was a pawn caught in a feud between the Judge and the sheriff. That totally ignored the fact that she was in that predicament because she had acted like the spoiled irresponsible brat she is and had twice ignored a Judges orders. Finally some adult in her life was making her accountable for her actions and that someone, Judge Sauer, was sticking by his guns despite the interference with his orders by the Sheriff acting on the behest of her rescuing parents’ psychiatrist.

All the foster kids I have raised, my own son and all the kids I have worked with in my youth programs knew that if they were arrested for something they were truly guilty of doing, they could expect to sit in jail. I would not do bail and would only get involved to the extent of arranging rehab after release if the charges were drug or alcohol related. Sure, I would visit them in jail, but only to coach them on how they might better conduct their lives so as not to end up there again. Under no circumstances did I ever use my influence on the court system to spring someone who was legitimately in there. To do so would have robbed them of an opportunity to finally understand the consequences of their actions.

I once knew a county judge in Ithaca, N.Y., The Hon. Bruce Dean, who was fond of pointing to the county jail across the parking lot and saying, "That’s where people find religion!" By that he meant their getting a clear understanding of the reality of the consequences of their irresponsibility.

Paris finally has her first opportunity to "find religion." Both she and her loving parents are very lucky for being given this opportunity, this wake up call. They are very lucky that the call didn’t come when Paris had killed someone else and/or herself while driving under the influence. Yes, even Bentleys can get mangled in high speed crashed! It is just a shame that her parents did not teach her these lessons as a child and seem to be continuing to "protect" her from herself and the consequences of her actions. They are very lucky that she is getting 45 days to reflect on her irresponsibility and not a funeral. Hopefully, although not likely, they will now play a more positive role in assisting teir emotionally young child to become a responsible, mature adult. This might be their last chance.

For those of you who are thinking right now, "What does the lives of the rich and famous have to do with me?" here is the reason to pay attention and learn. Even if you are not rich, the parenting lessons here apply to all. This is a wake up call to review how you are raising your pre-teens and teens. By your words and actions, are you rewarding irresponsibility? The daddy in the Beach Boys song was being a responsible did. His daughter was acting very irresponsible while having "fun, fun, fun" so "her daddy took the T-Bird away." Do that for your kids before a judge or a funeral director does it for you.

About the Author:

Jason Wittman, MPS has a private practice as a Life Coach specializing in working with parents of teenage boys and young adults and teaching effective parenting techniques ( http://TheParentsCoach.com ) He can be reached at jason@theparentscoach.com

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