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Should the parents be held responsible?

An earlier post got me to thinking. For some teens, sneaking out is almost like a rite of passage. I know I did it. Looking back, I thank the Lord I made it back home safely. But let's say something bad happens while the teens are out. Injury or death to one or more of them. If the parents were asleep when the kids snuck out, should they still be held responsible for something their teen does? Is it legally or ethically the right thing to do when we would basically be punishing the parent for not being a light sleeper?


Asked by mrsmom110 at 10:00 AM on Jan. 1, 2014 in General Parenting

Level 48 (284,686 Credits)
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Answers (19)
  • If the kid slipped out of school and stole a car and hit and killed someone,we'd blame the school for not keeping track of the kid

    Big difference between a school full of adults who are SUPPOSED to be awake and paying attention to the kids in their care and parents who are sleeping. We cannot expect parents to stay awake 24/7 until a child is 18 to make sure they stay out of trouble. We CAN, and do, expect teachers and other "responsible" adults in a school to stay awake and aware.

    With that said, I'm torn. On one hand, I agree with someone who said that you should have raised your kid to know better and therefore are responsible. But again, we all have to sleep sometime and it's not fair to punish parents for sleeping and not realizing their kid snuck out. Most kids do it, even the well behaved ones. I guess maybe I'd have to look at how old the kid is, and what kind of trouble they've been in before.

    Answer by wendythewriter at 11:04 AM on Jan. 1, 2014

  • I told him if I ever received a call like that again, he would go to jail! LOL
    He lost his driving privileges for quite a while.

    Answer by KTElite at 11:00 AM on Jan. 1, 2014

  • I agree with Wendy, comparing sleeping parents to teachers who are awake and should be aware is two totally different situations. I have a hard time saying that EVERY parent should be blamed for their kids fuck ups. Some parents try and the kids are assholes anyways. Not to mention at some point, kids have to start taking responsibility for their own actions and not blame it on shitty parents. So, on a whole, no parents shouldn't be blamed. I think it needs to be on a case by case basis.

    Answer by kmath at 12:18 PM on Jan. 1, 2014

  • If a kid is going to misbehave and is hell bent on doing it, nothing short of locks on their door is going to stop them. When you have done your level best raising a child and they still get up to trouble when you are sleeping, I don't think the parents should be charged.

    If you know you have a child looking for trouble, it might be a good idea to have a home alarm installed, and maybe lock up your car keys, but for pete's sake, you've got to sleep sometime. Also, sometimes you don't know you've got a hellion until they get caught. The "good kids" are sometimes the ones that get into the biggest messes, because they are trusted.

    Answer by tessiedawg at 12:48 PM on Jan. 1, 2014

  • You have a very good point. Until you said What is they are asleep..... I was thinking it depends on circumstances and that was one that shot through my mind.
    My sister was a sneaker and you know very well she was not just reading a book in the back yard.
    I do. think it is up to the parents to take reasonable precautions and to teach their children right and wrong. I am terrible about leaving my keys in a certain spot (actually a very good thing to do) which is easily accessible to anyone. My kids could have taken my keys and gone joy riding at any time.
    I just think all factors need to be weighed before deciding if the parents should be held responsible. It is not a blanket situation.

    Answer by Dardenella at 1:23 PM on Jan. 1, 2014

  • I think there are big problems in general with the concept of punishment. This issue noses out a few of the issues.

    I don't have a problem with the concept of responsibility, and I do think on a deep level parents ARE responsible for what their kids do, but that doesn't automatically imply "fault" or "blame." (Which is where people go when that idea gets suggested--another person's choices aren't my fault, he's responsible for himself, etc. Take blame, guilt, fault, punishment out of the equation & that goes away, the issue of responsibility might become clearer without the default punitive model.) But generally when people talk about "holding someone responsible" they are talking about punishment of some kind. Inflicting pain of some kind (fines, financial restitution, limiting freedom, etc.)

    There are a lot of problems with trying to legislate and "enforce" responsibility!

    Answer by girlwithC at 1:48 PM on Jan. 1, 2014

  • As a parent who has raised three boys, I have two issues with the parent's being held responsible: 1. you can do your best to raise a responsible kid, and still have them act out. I have three boys. Two are mature, responsible, level headed adults now. the other one has spent time in jail, and still hasn't learned a life lesson from it. They were raised exactly the same. Am I responsible for the third one? If the answer is yes, that leads me to my second point: 2. If I am responsible for all their misdeeds, then I am just as responsible for their successes. If I have to shoulder screw ups, then I get to claim success... and my kid doesnt. If they are excused for misbehavior, they don't get to claim acheivements, and that seems wrong to me.

    Answer by Nimue930 at 3:48 PM on Jan. 1, 2014

  • It is not cut and dry . It honestly depends. Say a teen has a history of running away, sneaking out, drinking, and making other inappropriate choices. If myself or child was injured as a result of that teen I would think there is some level of accountability if the parents of the teen were not taking appropriate measures to reduce incidents. On the other hand, I knew a teen who was 14 and actually had great parents. This teen drove his neighbor's car while they were away. He waited till his family was sleeping and snuck out. He is now a super responsible good man. His parents were super great and if he had hurt anyone at 14 it would not have been because of poor parenting or lack of supervision. It would have meant full legal ramifications but certainly not a witch hunt for his parents.

    Answer by frogdawg at 3:57 PM on Jan. 1, 2014

  • You have a good point. I guess the parents should still be held responsible though on the policy that they should have raised their child better, even though they had no control over the situation, they should have.

    Answer by Bmat at 10:10 AM on Jan. 1, 2014

  • Legally,they are
    You don't get a free pass while you sleep
    If the kid slipped out of school and stole a car and hit and killed someone,we'd blame the school for not keeping track of the kid

    Answer by butterflyblue19 at 10:12 AM on Jan. 1, 2014