Texas Dad Wants Law To Say Children Should Never Grow Up
October 14, 2016 (Fault Lines) – When does a parent stop worrying about their child? Obviously, never. But when does a parent lose the right to control that child? When he or she turns 18 in most places. And keep in mind that control moves from a reality to an illusion around the time your kid hits 13.
According to Reason, a Texas dad is pushing a new law that will let you hang on to that illusion a bit longer. Elizabeth Nolan Brown reported earlier this week on new legislation proposed by John Clark, a Fort Bend, Texas father who is dealing with a runaway daughter.
Clark claims his daughter was groomed as a teenager by a sex trafficker she met on Snapchat and lured away to captivity and prostitution. A horror story, to say the least. In response to the situation, Clark has met with federal and Texas lawmakers to push this new law that would allow parents to keep on parenting right past a child’s 18th birthday:
Since then, Clark has been meeting with Texas and federal lawmakers, circulating an online petition, and reaching out to the media in service of legal reforms that he calls the “cornerstones” of his fight against human trafficking:
- Changing the minimum age requirement for working at a sexually-oriented business (such as strip clubs or adult-video stores) to 21 years old
- Raising criminal penalties for promoting or compelling the prostitution of 18- to 20-year-olds above the penalties for adults generally
- “Providing extended parental guardianship in specific circumstances and emergencies”
Any period of “extended parental guardianship” would be temporary. The guardianship period could be triggered if at least four of following six criteria are met: the young adult 1) lives at home, 2) is still in high-school, 3) is a full-time college student, 4) was claimed as a dependent by the parent(s) on the prior year’s tax return, 5) has never been married, and 6) has not been the subject of any child protective services (CPS) investigations.
While it’s nice to think the law would have restrictions, check out that list. If you need four out of six, pretty much every college kid is going to meet the last four. So it would give a parent the right to treat a wayward college kid just like the kid they no longer are.
But…but…but…sex trafficking! This poor girl was kidnapped from her happy home and basically sold into sex slavery. There has to be a law against that, right? There are two problems with that story. She wasn’t kidnapped, and it sounds like her home looked a lot more like the old Soviet Russia (if there were cellphones and social media in old Soviet Russia) than a happy suburban family home.
Clark’s daughter, Heather, was not some kid allowed to run wild. Quite the opposite. She was on lockdown, apparently.
Heather’s parents “went through her phone several times a week,” her dad explains. At home, the 18-year-old wasn’t allowed to take her cellphone upstairs to her bedroom and “when she went upstairs she had to leave her phone on the kitchen counter, so we could check it.” They required Heather to provide them with “all her passwords,” sometimes grabbed her phone out of her hands “unexpectedly (before she could log out of the app)” to check her recent Snapchat communications, and installed a GPS tracker on her car.
In addition to monitoring the car GPS “every time she left the house,” Clark notes that they “Facetimed her every time she went out to make sure she was where she was supposed to be, and she was with the people she was supposed to be seeing.” (These were “friends from high school,” he later points out, because human trafficking isn’t “limited to the inner city.”) Heather was grounded “every time she had contact with one of the people we thought were trouble,” and Clark writes that he “went face-to-face with a few of them and assertively demanded they stay away from my daughter.”
Huh? So weird none of that worked. Typically, teenagers, especially older ones, respond so well to an environment of distrust and harsh control. I mean, if you can’t GPS track your kid, who can you GPS track?
Not surprisingly, Heather wasn’t happy with this situation. So when she turned 18, she got the hell out.
Heather Clark was last seen by her family Saturday, when she told her parents she was going to Lifetime Fitness in the 1300 block of Texas 6. She later left her vehicle and cellphone in that parking lot to go to a party with a friend, according to the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office.
About 3 p.m. Thursday, she contacted her family but didn’t say where she was, her father, John Clark, told the Houston Chronicle.
“She’s said that she doesn’t want to come home,” her father said. “We don’t know what is behind her choice.”
She told her family to call off the search and to remove any word of reward money. She has also dropped off social media since she left on Saturday night, John Clark said.
It’s a real mystery what was behind her choice. If only there was some clue in this story. Something to help us figure out why a normal teenager would “run away” at the age of 18 from her oppressive parents. I guess we will never know.
This story should be in the “News of the Weird” section. It shouldn’t be taken seriously. Except that it has to be. This has all the hallmarks of the kind of thing our typical dumbass legislators will jump all over. We can call it “Heather’s Law” and have a rally and who can speak against the legal adults children?
The law isn’t the answer for every little problem that arises. Especially when it’s one that an overbearing parent invited. At the age of 18, your kid isn’t running away. She is moving out. That’s kind of the point.
Parenting involves the worst dilemma. You want to protect your child from every imaginable harm. But at the same time, you have to prepare them to survive in the world on their own. Successful parenting requires you to do both. That’s hard. But no legislature is going to help you with that. Or make up for the fact that you failed miserably.