- This time you have asked four questions for which I will give you my
opinion, although none really bears directly on the outcome of the case.
I have raised two children and understand the challenges and responsibilities
involved with parenting. I'm also a realist about many things, perhaps as a
result of raising my children.
1. Why do we as parents have limited control over our children?
Part of it is developmental, the young bird breaking away from the parent and
leaving the nest. Part of it is emotional, learning independence then
extending the limits of that independence as the young person becomes more capable
of being fully independent. Most of it is simply a matter of proximity. By
that I means, that unless a parent wishes to be attached at the hip to his/her
child, once that child goes out the front door all parental control ceases.
If a child has been raised well, has been giving unconditional love and
support; a good moral understanding of the rights of each individual, and
right/wrong as it applies individually and within society; and, a strong sense of self
given by parents reenforcing the child's personal strengths, intelligence and
abilities to make sound choices - then perhaps the child will be relatively
safe. However, a teenager is still a teenager and will still do, or not do,
things as they are presented to him/her. He/she will still take risks - large or
small - without forethought; will still act impulsively and without real
purpose; will still lie - by intent or by omission; will still show poor judgment
by not weighing choices and consequences; and hopefully, will still come home
safe each time. It is a fact of life that at some point, sooner or later, a
child is out of the control of his/her parents and in the control of
him/herself and the society in which they all live.
2. Why was a junior attending a graduation party?
The simplest answer is because the junior wanted to attend. Actually, Meri w
as only going into her junior year and Kay was going into her senior year.
There are any number of reasons that a teenager might give a parent that the
parent might find acceptable: the junior was dating a senior or had a sibling
who was a senior, all the junior's friends were seniors, 'it's a special night
and I was invited to celebrate with my senior friends', 'it will be the last
time we have a chance to get together as a group before they go off to college'
etc. There are also any number of lies that might have been told. In this
case we only know of one: Meri told her parents she was going to a friend's
In court, an attorney may argue Meri's parents had a responsibility to
confirm Meri's story. If Meri had been reliable and truthful in the past, the
parents probably felt they had no reason to check with the friend's parents. If
her parents were minimally engaged in her life (i.e. knew most of her friends,
were aware of most of her activities, knew she was doing well in school, etc.),
they would expect that she knew what they would allow and would not allow,
might even remind her of the trust they had for her, then said yes. If, like
her friend Kay, her parents apparently had no real interest in her life, the lie
probably wasn't even necessary.
3. Why blame the ones who sold the alcohol to them?
Because it's illegal to sell and/or provide alcohol to minors. No other
reason is necessary.
I'm sure the same attorney may try to place blame for the events of the
evening on the fact that the alcohol was supplied to minors; however, a defense
attorney could easily counter that simply because the alcohol was available did
not mean the teenagers had to drink it. No one forced them. They were free to
say no. In either case, it goes back to the basic reason - supplying alcohol
to minors is illegal.
4. Why was a teenager driving a BMW with no insurance?
A better question might be, why was a teenager driving any car with no
insurance? Although this goes outside the question of responsibility for drunk
driving, speeding, and generally irresponsible behavior, the question could have
The car was insured, Eric as the driver of that car was not. If he was not
the listed owner of the vehicle, most states require that the insured stipulate
who else may drive the car, either regularly or occasionally, with his/her
permission. If he was driving a parent's car or a friend's car, for example, he
may not have been listed on the policy as an occasional driver. Or, he may
simply not have had permission to drive that car on that night. In either
case, the insurance on the car would not apply to him.
If the car was his, or just his responsibility, and he was responsible for
the insurance on the car, he might have let it lapse, he might have forgotten a
premium payment, the check might have gotten lost in the mail.
If the car was his parent's and was not insured, it may again have been a
simple mix up about paying the insurance bill. It could also be that the
parent's had allowed the insurance to lapse intentionally because Eric had proven
himself an irresponsible driver, and told him he could not drive the car until
the insurance was reinstated.
In any case, having insurance would not have prevented the accident, nor
would it have saved any lives.
A personal aside...I believe it is human nature to ask why when something
horrific happens. I believe there is something in our nature that desperately
wants to make sense out of senseless things. I also believe that many people
look to place blame elsewhere when a tragedy occurs, because they cannot bear
the knowledge that they were responsible and/or they do not believe they were
responsible. Very often though (perhaps nearly every time), there are no
reasonable, acceptable, believable answers to why. Some things happen without any
reason at all. And, some things happen because a series of bad decisions (bad
breaks, bad luck, bad Kharma) lead to the tragic event. I generally feel that
my time is better spent not asking why, but asking how can I stop this from
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]