MEANEST MOM OR CARING PARENT
An Example Other Parents and Our Courts Should Follow
James H. Lilley
Steven Hambleton broke the rules
and paid the
price, when his mother, Jane, sold his 1999 Olds Intrigue. The rules were
simple, no booze in the car, and keep it locked. A responsible parent stepped
up and took action, not simply because her son broke the rules, but to prevent
tragedy. Cars and alcohol dont mix. Just ask the thousands who lose loved
ones each year to incidents involving drunken driving. Jane Hambleton received
nationwide praise for her actions, including an appearance on Good Morning
America, and invitations from Oprah and Ellen to appear on their shows.
But, how many parents in America
are there, who would have the courage to stand up, and take the same hard-nosed
action? Unfortunately, I dont believe it would be the majority. Dont expect
many to stand up and take responsibility for their childs actions. In todays
America, far too many parents are quick to point a finger of blame at someone
else for their childs actions. Everyone, including law enforcement officers
are often condemned when a child is arrested for breaking the law. Police have
even been blamed for the fatal accidents, which have taken the lives of drunken
or reckless drivers.
Why? Is it because its easier to say, If youd been
doing your job, this wouldnt have happened, than it is to say, If only Id
been a more responsible parent? But, when the police arrest a child for
drunken driving, or possession and use of drugs, the accusation often is, You
dont have anything better to do, than harass my son or daughter. Why dont you
go out and catch real criminals? If those pointing the accusing finger at
everyone else had a backbone, theyd take the appropriate measures at home to
ensure that their child wasnt an arrest, or fatal accident statistic.
Discipline and love go hand
How many parents would say, Hey,
his or her booze in the car, why should I punish them? In Steves case, the
rules said no booze, period. There were no stipulations that, as long as the
alcohol belonged to someone else, it was okay. And, thats the way it should
be. Parents should establish the ground rules, and their son or daughter should
follow them to the letter, or suffer the consequences. If this were the norm,
it would also place a standard of accountability on the child. And, as the
owner and or driver of the car, the responsibility falls on their shoulders to
ensure parental rules and the laws are obeyed.
I had rules to abide by when I was
up, and I had no doubt whatsoever that those rules would be strictly enforced.
When I reached that magic age, and obtained my drivers license, I didnt have
to be told about the no alcohol restriction. That was absolutely understood
without a word ever having been spoken. Safe driving and good grades were a
must, and failure to drive safely, or maintain passing grades meant that the car
would sit parked in front of the house on weekends. I worked hard to keep at
least a B average, and was often the brunt of jokes by a few classmates, because
they viewed the grade as sucking-up. I didnt really care what my peers
thought, because I wanted the privilege of using my car on weekends. And, use
of the car was a privilege, not a right guaranteed by some mythical doctrine.
In America today there seems to exist a belief that it is a childs, or anyones
right, to have a drivers license and drive a car.
Also, in Steve Hambletons case,
no second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth chances to get it right. His mother
didnt say, Okay, Steve, Ill forget it this time, but next time No. She
didnt issue warning after warning, but took action on his first offense, and
sold the car. He broke the rules and immediately paid the price.
Now, whats wrong with our court
Next time syndrome. Maybe they should be taking a long, hard look at Jane
Hambletons system and employ it accordingly when dealing with those who break
the law. Continued threats of, The next time you appear in my court, youre
going to pay the price hasnt been working. The thugs have no fear of the
judicial system, because they know theyll get unlimited opportunities to return
to the streets to continue their life of crime. Murderers, rapists, drug
dealers and car thieves are returned to society day after day, deemed
rehabilitated and ready to be productive citizens. And, they certainly become
an example of how theyll be productive members of society. They generate more
murders and rapes, and continue to engage in their trade as drug dealers and car
thieves. Still, the responsibility begins in the home with the parents. If
responsibility would become a part of every home, there would be little to no
need to look to the courts to solve many of our problems. But, when there is a
breakdown of discipline and responsibility in the home, the court should not be
the next step on the ladder of leniency.
If we take Jane Hambleton, and
assess carefully exactly what she accomplished, what do we find? As a parent,
who openly declared herself the meanest mother in the world, she isnt visiting
her son at the local jail. Why? Because her tough stance prevented Steve from
possible arrest for possession of alcoholor worse. Did she prevent him from
becoming involved in a fatal automobile accident, where alcohol was a contributing
factor? Did she open his eyes to the fact that rules, and laws are to be
obeyed? In the end, did she show all of us that it is far better to be the
worlds meanest parent, than a grieving mother arranging her sons funeral?
Simply put, Jane Hambletons actions define parental responsibility and love.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James H. Lilley is a former
Marine and Police Sergeant with the Howard County Police Department (Maryland).
He worked in the Uniformed Patrol Division, Criminal Investigations Division,
Forensic Services (CSI) and Drug Enforcement Division. His Street Drug Unit was
featured in the book "Undercover" by Hans Halberstadt and published by Simon and
Schuster. Some of his awards include The Medal of Valor, Four Bronze Stars, Four
Unit Citations and the Governor's Citation. He is also an 8th Degree Black Belt
in Shorin Ryu Karate and the first American to be promoted to the rank of Black
Belt by Mr. Takeshi Miyagi. James Lilley is the author of six books: A Question
of Honor; The Eyes of the Hunter; The Far Side of the Bridge; Just Retribution;
A Miracle for Tony Clements; and, Death Knocks Twice.