Behavior That Goes Beyond Scope of Grounding

I have been a parent for going on 19 years, which means I have read my fair share of books and magazines about how to raise healthy, happy, well-adjusted children. Through the years, in my effort to do a good job as a mom — or at least ensure I don’t scar my children for life — I have made it a habit to consult the “experts” to learn the best practices on everything from potty training and bedtime routines to nutrition and discipline strategies.

Today, as I scan the headlines, I’m wondering why I never read an article on how to avoid raising a teenager who one day attempts to murder her mother. Someone should have addressed this issue because, according to the media, it seems to be happening more and more.

Not to me, thank goodness. But still.

You would think the parenting gurus would have mentioned this possibility in an article on “mother-daughter bonding” or “communicating effectively with your teen.” I guess none of the experts ever considered that a teen who wants a later curfew or more minutes on her cell phone service would kill to get it.

This must be why, in all my years as a mom, I never read a parenting article that said to watch my back — or, as in the case of a Florida woman — my dinner plate.

Apparently a teenage girl in central Florida decided last month that she had had it with being told to do household chores. Not just that, but her mom had had the audacity to take away her cell phone. Sheesh.

This teen, fed up with a mother who was unreasonably strict (chores!) offered to make dinner for the family and in preparing the meal, included a hefty dose of seasoning salt, an ingredient to which her mother had a well-known life-threatening allergy.

In other words, the girl tried to kill her mom by inducing anaphylactic shock. Pretty sly, as she appeared only to be helping out with dinner, huh?

The teen’s younger sister saw the dastardly deed but was threatened into staying quiet about it. (She reported that her sister had said she would “beat you dead.” I’m thinking this little sis had reason to believe such a beating was a strong possibility.)

The mom did, indeed, go into anaphylactic shock and was unable to administer a dose of epinephrine to herself. Lucky for her, the very daughter who tried to kill her was willing to give her mom the lifesaving shot that reversed the symptoms.

This teenager was hauled off to “juvie” to wait while her case makes its way through the criminal justice system. Suffice to say, dinners around that Florida home are likely to be somewhat less traumatic while she’s away.

But what about the 19-year-old Tennessee girl who, with her 24-year-old boyfriend, hired another teen to kill the girl’s mom? You could hardly blame her, as she was only planning to speed up the receipt of her mom’s life insurance benefits. (Part-time jobs are hard to come by in this economy, after all.) Last fall’s plot was discovered when a friend of the would-be “hit teen” went to police, who offered the boy a wire in exchange for leniency. This is how we know that this loving daughter asked that her mom not be “shot in the face.” See? She did love her mommy after all.

Can you imagine living with your daughter after it was revealed she had attempted to have you shot (albeit not in the face)?

I can’t. But that’s what Karen Stribel is doing. In fact, when asked about her murderous offspring, she insists, “I love her dearly.” Talk about unconditional.

Something’s not right here, and it’s not just the notion of matricide.

These two cases aren’t the only recent stories of teens attempting to kill their parents, and if not mom or dad, then teachers, peers and neighbors. In a culture that offers virtual homicide in the form of electronic games, perhaps some of America’s youth are concluding it’s the easy answer to a host of problems, from parents who require too many chores to teachers who require too much homework. At least in the gaming world, there aren’t any real consequences, and no one holds you accountable.

On the other hand, if you plot to kill your mother and when your plot is foiled she professes to still love you dearly, it turns out there really aren’t any consequences and you’re not accountable anyway.

I sure would like to see what the parenting experts have to say about that.

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