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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Young Daughters of Privilege

-26bc60ba3462586cWith two teen sons and two teen daughters of our own, I gravitate toward other teens and young adults in the news, whether to learn or lament over their “example”.   Currently, two well-publicized daughters spring to mind, the first demonstrating a clear sense of entitlement and the second, almost exactly the opposite.

Enter Rachel Canning, the 18-year-old New Jersey girl who couldn’t seem to get along with her family.  She didn’t appreciate their rules, wanted nothing to do with them, and left to live with a best friend’s family.  Unfortunately, there’s over $5,000 left to pay on her Catholic high school tuition in order for her to graduate. Her dad decided enough is enough.

He’s not paying.Sean and Elizabeth Canning cry during a hearing in a lawsuit brought by their daughter Rachel Canning in Morristown

To which I say:  Bravo!

Since when did kids get the idea that they can do anything, say anything, refuse to act like normal human beings… and life will continue on as usual?  The fact that Canning has already turned 18 naturally adds some weight in the parents’ favor.  The fact that the Canning parents are being sued by their daughter with help from… get this… the best friend’s father who is an attorney… is unconscionable.  Rachel is suing not only for the private school fees, but her immediate support, and her future college tuition.

Gimme. a. break.

ARKPippaBiddleWell, long story short, she lost her court case against her parents.  Talk about the school of hard knocks.  Maybe she’ll wake up and discover that it’s time to get a job… where perhaps she’ll have to get with the program just as she refused to do at home.

Against that ugly backdrop shines Pippa Biddle, a 21-year-old young woman recently highlighted in the New York Times.  She was publicizing the fact that as a teen, she engaged in “voluntourism” with her private boarding school classmates, traveling to distant lands at great expense, and helping them with the crisis du jour—whether housing, AIDs, natural disasters, or whatever. 

And presently, she realizes that their work did very, very little to help, if not make more work for the locals, as in the time the volunteering teens were attempting to build a structure and men had to surreptitiously tear down their brickwork each night, and rebuild the poor workmanship before the kids rose the next morning, none the wiser.

In her own words,  “I have stopped attending having finally accepted that my presence is not the godsend I was 6520_1186939708691_8307709_ncoached by nonprofits, documentaries and service programs to believe it would be.”

Her father disagrees and has an entirely different perspective.  Personally, I can see both sides.  Yes, it’s important for teens and adults to give back, to help the less fortunate, to do something meaningful, particularly if they are daughters of privilege, shall we say.

Conversely, as the director of a non-profit myself, and as one who several times took groups of voluntourists along to assist, which sometimes really did benefit our projects in tangible ways (probably because I limited the work to projects that I knew were well within the average person’s reach), I have come to conclusions similar to Pippa’s. 

volunteer-constructionIt’s a whole lot of time and money for very little outcome. 

Mr. Biddle argues that voluntourist projects should not be sold on the glamorous location, but again, I could view it from both sides.  If the group is going on a vacation and then tag on a couple of days of volunteerism, that impresses me as more cost-effective than spending a whole lot of money to travel halfway around the world to volunteer.  With those kinds of funds, the local non-profit could easily support tons of local workers, giving them employment and a real hand-up rather than a hand-out.

Kudos to Ms. Biddle for figuring it out, as well as thanking her parents for the opportunities that they have graciously afforded her.

Two daughters of privilege.  Two entirely different launches into adulthood.  May we listen and learn.

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2 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Leah says:

    Very insightful comparison and contrast. I’m certain that the first family is heartbroken, while the second even if the father doesn’t agree totally with his daughter’s conclusions must be proud of raising a young woman to be caring and thoughtful. All of our children need to be able to learn from the world around them. Observe, absorb, grow.

    • avatar admin says:

      I like that, Leah – observe, absorb, grow. (And when they don’t get it, keep pointing it out in no uncertain terms-!) With these news articles, there’s another layer that’s been added: not only check out your kids’ friends, check out their parents, too. They may encourage your child to sue you one day!

      Just heard from another parent with a young child, about 7 y.o. or so, who went to a friend’s house, parents liked the other parents… and came home with a tattoo! Thankfully, it was henna, but the mom thought, “WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?” as she scrubbed for almost an hour to fade it.

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