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Stephanie
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Middle Chapters Discussion: Legal Distinctions

While doing legal research for this book, Moriarty found that the law (at least Kansas law) makes an important distinction between inattentive driving and reckless driving. To be charged with reckless driving, a much more serious offense, the prosecutor must prove that the driver was aware of the risk she was creating. On the other hand, inattentive driving – caused by ignorance, distraction, or confusion – is not as severely punished, even though this kind of driving can cause just as much harm to others. Do you think this is a fair distinction? Would you make the same distinction for bad parenting?

This section is appropriate for those who have read through Chapter 9. Please be mindful of spoilers regarding material in later chapters.
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IBIS
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: Legal Distinctions

SPOILER ALERT

As many posts make clear, accidents caused by negligent driving are more common, and more understandable. Although the focus here is on Kara, a teenager, we know many instances when negligent driving accidents are caused by adults who should know better.

I guess the analogy can apply to accidents caused by negligent parenting.

There are parents, like some drivers, who don't pay much attention to their parenting. The ones who suffer are the children, of course, and they grow up with "accidents" caused by this neglect.

As we proceed into the story, we learn more about Leigh's mother and her mother's parenting style. Leigh was raised by a mother who had serious blind spots of her own. Her mother truly believed that she has done her absolute best for her daughters, has given them everything they needed. But she packs up and deserts Leigh at 16 to fend for herself. Not leaving a return address, groceries, or any means of support.

That's an amazing example of reckless parenting.
IBIS

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kiakar
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: Legal Distinctions



IBIS wrote:
SPOILER ALERT

As many posts make clear, accidents caused by negligent driving are more common, and more understandable. Although the focus here is on Kara, a teenager, we know many instances when negligent driving accidents are caused by adults who should know better.

I guess the analogy can apply to accidents caused by negligent parenting.

There are parents, like some drivers, who don't pay much attention to their parenting. The ones who suffer are the children, of course, and they grow up with "accidents" caused by this neglect.

As we proceed into the story, we learn more about Leigh's mother and her mother's parenting style. Leigh was raised by a mother who had serious blind spots of her own. Her mother truly believed that she has done her absolute best for her daughters, has given them everything they needed. But she packs up and deserts Leigh at 16 to fend for herself. Not leaving a return address, groceries, or any means of support.

That's an amazing example of reckless parenting.




I feel its a good distinction between doing something willfully or being distracted and something happens bad. I am glad its not just one sided like some things about the law is.

As far as Leigh's mother is concerned, she was a bad parent,a reckless one, but her parenting came from a set of parents also that was bad parenting. Where does it stop? Can you imagine a young lady already flawed with bad parenting raising two girls by herself, fighting bills,trying to feed them, and since she hadn't known love in her life, she didn't know how to give love. But her idea of love was caring for them. When she realized this wasn't enought in their lives, she couldn't give anything else, she packs and leaves. And I am sure she had to force herself not to think of them. And she probably had her mind set that the sister would definitely look after Leigh which of course she did. Also the mother knew that Leigh was smart and focused on getting somewhere. It is easy just to say that Leigh's mother was bad but why was she? In her mind, she was a good mom, for feeding them, for clothing them and so forth. What examples of anything else did she have.
It was indeed reckless mothering but what else did she know.
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IBIS
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: Self-deluded Mothering

kiakar, I agree that Leigh's mother had her own skewed self-perception, her own blind spots -- what my daughter would call "whacked" mothering.

We see how self-deluded she was. She believed that she did an excellent job as a single mother. She saw herself as the good mother who sacrificed for them. But if things didn't turn out well, it couldn't possibly be her fault.

She really believed that Leigh would get the deposit back for the apartment. But she did NOTHING to help clean the apartment. Leigh did the entire cleaning by herself. This is only one example of how her negligent mothering left scars on Leigh. She drove off to California in pursuit of her own happiness, without any accountability for the damage she was leaving behind.

She is the mothering equivalent of a hit-and-run accident.
IBIS

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kiakar
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: Self-deluded Mothering



IBIS wrote:
kiakar, I agree that Leigh's mother had her own skewed self-perception, her own blind spots -- what my daughter would call "whacked" mothering.

We see how self-deluded she was. She believed that she did an excellent job as a single mother. She saw herself as the good mother who sacrificed for them. But if things didn't turn out well, it couldn't possibly be her fault.

She really believed that Leigh would get the deposit back for the apartment. But she did NOTHING to help clean the apartment. Leigh did the entire cleaning by herself. This is only one example of how her negligent mothering left scars on Leigh. She drove off to California in pursuit of her own happiness, without any accountability for the damage she was leaving behind.

She is the mothering equivalent of a hit-and-run accident.




You are right! Isn't it strange that Leigh's sister did not see her that way.
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: Self-deluded Mothering

[ Edited ]

kiakar wrote:


IBIS wrote:
kiakar, I agree that Leigh's mother had her own skewed self-perception, her own blind spots -- what my daughter would call "whacked" mothering.

We see how self-deluded she was. She believed that she did an excellent job as a single mother. She saw herself as the good mother who sacrificed for them. But if things didn't turn out well, it couldn't possibly be her fault.

She really believed that Leigh would get the deposit back for the apartment. But she did NOTHING to help clean the apartment. Leigh did the entire cleaning by herself. This is only one example of how her negligent mothering left scars on Leigh. She drove off to California in pursuit of her own happiness, without any accountability for the damage she was leaving behind.

She is the mothering equivalent of a hit-and-run accident.




You are right! Isn't it strange that Leigh's sister did not see her that way.


There are four kids in my family, 3 siblings to me that is, all raised by the same two parents and the oldest two where high school drop outs, in trouble with the law married early, divorced early, have just handed over their kids to others when they started that awkward preteen time or did things looking for attention, trading them in for littler kids that they didnt have to deal with on those levels. My younger brother and I stuck together, finished high school, worked in high school, I worked in junior high too, and he went to a vo-tech school and is now a licensed plumber of some years. I finished high school alone, my mother and her new husband by that time took my brother and moved away my last 6 months of high school and I didnt want to move anymore, so I stayed by myself and have been on my own every since. Worked a year before college, got my BA in psych, went to work full time for Southwestern Bell while in school, was working on my post grad work when I became disabled.

My mother left several times. Then when she would leave the man, she would show up on my doorstep all through my college years. I never lived in dorms had my own apartments since I was first out of the house. I think Leigh's mother loved her, but in her younger years especially, she just WANTED, and couldnt get it with the kids so she left. I like her better as an older woman but still she has problems. Back to my first line, doesnt matter how many kids live in the same house, they will deal with bad parenting in different ways and I dont think its always going to be as another generation of bad parents. Kara's sister does not make the best decisions in her life, and she wants to put a good light on their past with their mother, because at times there were and she prefers, maybe NEEDS to remember those. With all her problems tho, I dont think she turned out to be a bad parent. I dont think Leigh is either, she just isnt paying attention and is more like her mother than she would like to think, until she does think.


** POSSIBLE END OF BOOK SPOILER***
And I don't think a grown woman has to learn from a parent, good or bad, that you DONT leave a 16 year old to fend for herself and just "hope" it will all be ok because she wants to run off and have her own life. An adult should just KNOW that. Do I think she thought about it while she was gone? I doubt it. She doesnt even know what she did wrong when she comes back for a visit and Leigh finally says something about it! She just looks shocked, expects to be waited on hand and foot and then leaves again cause they cant miss their fun in the sun, not even for what is happening here.

Message Edited by vivico1 on 10-05-2007 01:42 AM
Vivian
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: Self-deluded Mothering

Thank you all again. I can't tell you how gratifying it is for an author to have her characters so clearly understood. This has turned into such a great discussion.

I do understand your frustration with Leigh's mother. And you're right, I did intend for the distinction of 'reckless' behavior (doing bad and knowing you are doing it) with 'negligent' behavior (doing bad but not realizing you are doing it) to extend to bad parenting. I'm so glad that you all have been so sympathetic with Leigh - I think her mistakes are clearly a case of negligence - her intentions are good, she's just distracted by the past and her own insecurities. Leigh's mother is harder. Her mistakes are bigger. But from her perspective, she, like Leigh, gave her children more than she ever had. She grew up hungry, literally motherless, and so to her, Pam and Leigh were given the world, and she simply doesn't understand Leigh's hostility. To almost all of us, it's insane that a mother would abandon a sixteen year old to fend for herself. (I'm sorry to hear that part of your story, Vivico; I've actually had some readers refuse to believe that any mother would skip out on parenting. Ahh, the blessed naive. But I'm very impressed with your strength in getting past it.) But in other times, and in other places, girls were/are expected to be taking care of children themselves and taking care of themselves at sixteen and even younger. So to someone who grew up hard, like Leigh's mother, she just may not understand what the big deal is. But I'm not sure that Vivico isn't right in saying, 'but she should just know it isn't right.' Leigh's mother is certainly a narcissistic character - she doesn't have Leigh's empathy skills, and she certainly doesn't have Kara's. You don't have to like her or forgive her. Leigh doesn't.


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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: Self-deluded Mothering

I actually felt very sorry for Leigh's mother. She had two great daughters, and she didn't have a clue. The fact that Leigh would, never mind could, at 16, clean that entire apartment to a glistening shine (am I exaggerating because I was so impressed with her?) is a far cry from a lot of 16 year old girls that I know. Leigh turned out well, in spite of, or perhaps because of, her desire to have more than her mother- to be more than her mother. Have to hand it to her mother, too, getting the hair styling schooling and license, and making more of herself than the rest of her family had. Not putting up with the bad husband was a plus for her in my book too- so many women think they're stuck.

I don't think leaving Leigh on her own to fend for herself at 16 was excusable, but at the same time, my oldest sister went off to college at that age. She'd been taking care of the six of us while both my parents worked for years before that. And Laura is right, 16 is a relative number. In 1925, my grandmother married at 16 and had two sons by age 20. This was after she had taken care of twelve younger siblings throughout her "childhood" years.

Sixteen is just so different today - we think of them as babies, yet we hand them the keys to our cars ...
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kiakar
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: Self-deluded Mothering



Stephanie wrote:
I actually felt very sorry for Leigh's mother. She had two great daughters, and she didn't have a clue. The fact that Leigh would, never mind could, at 16, clean that entire apartment to a glistening shine (am I exaggerating because I was so impressed with her?) is a far cry from a lot of 16 year old girls that I know. Leigh turned out well, in spite of, or perhaps because of, her desire to have more than her mother- to be more than her mother. Have to hand it to her mother, too, getting the hair styling schooling and license, and making more of herself than the rest of her family had. Not putting up with the bad husband was a plus for her in my book too- so many women think they're stuck.

I don't think leaving Leigh on her own to fend for herself at 16 was excusable, but at the same time, my oldest sister went off to college at that age. She'd been taking care of the six of us while both my parents worked for years before that. And Laura is right, 16 is a relative number. In 1925, my grandmother married at 16 and had two sons by age 20. This was after she had taken care of twelve younger siblings throughout her "childhood" years.

Sixteen is just so different today - we think of them as babies, yet we hand them the keys to our cars ...




You are so right, Stephanie. Its the concept of now and years back when lots of girls were on their own at sixteen or married and so on. And that is why I can't see that mistake has the mother's biggest. Her biggest was missing the opportunity to love both of her girls and enjoy their lives and not resent them as if taking something away from her.
The biggest problem with the mother was being raised in the same envirnment as she was raising hers.
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: Self-deluded Mothering


Stephanie wrote:
I actually felt very sorry for Leigh's mother. She had two great daughters, and she didn't have a clue. The fact that Leigh would, never mind could, at 16, clean that entire apartment to a glistening shine (am I exaggerating because I was so impressed with her?) is a far cry from a lot of 16 year old girls that I know. Leigh turned out well, in spite of, or perhaps because of, her desire to have more than her mother- to be more than her mother. Have to hand it to her mother, too, getting the hair styling schooling and license, and making more of herself than the rest of her family had. Not putting up with the bad husband was a plus for her in my book too- so many women think they're stuck.

I don't think leaving Leigh on her own to fend for herself at 16 was excusable, but at the same time, my oldest sister went off to college at that age. She'd been taking care of the six of us while both my parents worked for years before that. And Laura is right, 16 is a relative number. In 1925, my grandmother married at 16 and had two sons by age 20. This was after she had taken care of twelve younger siblings throughout her "childhood" years.

Sixteen is just so different today - we think of them as babies, yet we hand them the keys to our cars ...


Leigh may have done better with her life than her mother in accomplishments and bettering herself. I did too, I finished high school on my own, got a job, went to college, got a degree, got a great job. But what Leigh couldnt do was figure out how to be a mother. Its not just getting them better things, its being something with them, to them. She didn't learn any real relationship skills, she was just an observer on them in many ways. As we read, she is going through all this in that same mind set really. I think her daughter has felt that from her too and that may be why she is closer to her father. Her daughter is a smart cookie too, she knows her mother wants to see her fail, or fall,in some way. She may not be sure other than then her mom could relate better to her but what kid wants that? She doesnt. Leigh doesnt even know why she wants it almost. She knows she feels that too.

Maybe she is still so unsure of herself she just cant relate to someone so self assured. Its not that she wants to be a bad mom, she just doesnt get it at this point, shes too concerned about what it all means or looks like which may be the same things she wondered about when her mother left her. It is one thing to have to take on responsibility for syblings at a young age, you at least in the back of your mind THINK there is an adult around just in case. Its quite another thing to be left alone, and to be told its because you have always cramped their lifestyle and they just dont want you to come with them, they want to live now. Very different.

I got a question about how Leigh relates to her kids that I think I will put on its own thread for this mid part of the book, now that we are seeing more of it.
Vivian
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: Legal Distinctions/ car seats and heat

Here is an item we hear alot about this time of year and on TV tonight was a whole report on the numbers of it increasing unfortunately. It has to do with parent responsibility and the law, so I think it fits this notion of inattentiveness vs recklessness that I would love to hear your thoughts on.

In the summer months, and it is still very hot in many places, parents, men and women are forgetting there little kids in car seats in the back set in their cars and going shopping or even to work for a full 8 hours and the babies are dying. It happens every year. Sometimes they are prosecuted, most times they are not, its just a horrible accident. I can see how horrific that could be to live with and unintentional. But should it always be put down to inattentiveness or when is that kind of inattentiveness considered just plain reckless endangerment!

How busy are we getting when we can forget we have a child with us? They are making suggestions like, put a stuffed animal in the seat next to you to remind you, you have precious cargo in the back seat. Should that really be necessary? I really feel for the person who does this, but at the same time there is a part that says HOW? Some do get prosecuted, why is that? Also something else I have always wondered. Someone finds these children, calls the police or someone in the store, to try to get the child out and to me is wasting precious moments, why do so few just not get their car jack and break out a window right then and get the baby right then! Sometimes the parent is standing there telling the police to hurry, why not say someone break this damn glass now! I dont get that at all. Thoughts on inattentiveness and recklessness on this one in parenting?
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kiakar
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: Legal Distinctions/ car seats and heat



vivico1 wrote:
Here is an item we hear alot about this time of year and on TV tonight was a whole report on the numbers of it increasing unfortunately. It has to do with parent responsibility and the law, so I think it fits this notion of inattentiveness vs recklessness that I would love to hear your thoughts on.

In the summer months, and it is still very hot in many places, parents, men and women are forgetting there little kids in car seats in the back set in their cars and going shopping or even to work for a full 8 hours and the babies are dying. It happens every year. Sometimes they are prosecuted, most times they are not, its just a horrible accident. I can see how horrific that could be to live with and unintentional. But should it always be put down to inattentiveness or when is that kind of inattentiveness considered just plain reckless endangerment!

How busy are we getting when we can forget we have a child with us? They are making suggestions like, put a stuffed animal in the seat next to you to remind you, you have precious cargo in the back seat. Should that really be necessary? I really feel for the person who does this, but at the same time there is a part that says HOW? Some do get prosecuted, why is that? Also something else I have always wondered. Someone finds these children, calls the police or someone in the store, to try to get the child out and to me is wasting precious moments, why do so few just not get their car jack and break out a window right then and get the baby right then! Sometimes the parent is standing there telling the police to hurry, why not say someone break this damn glass now! I dont get that at all. Thoughts on inattentiveness and recklessness on this one in parenting?






And you know Vivian, it will come down one day, that people that are wacked in the head will start doing this as a method to kill their children and then they will take action to punish all parents. If you kill someone with your car, you are still liable, the sentence might not be as tough but you still are slapped on the wrist. I say this with conviction, maybe a slap on the risk should be given, this is a life lost from carelessness regardless of intent. This has happened alot. But the fact is too, they do have to live with this horrific mistake. I feel terrible with minor mistakes I have made concerning others but this, I think I would just die over this. And like Kara, I think the person wants to be punished for this horrid mistake. Maybe this makes them feel better being punished for awhile but then the quilt will come back. But something has to give. We are just too busy and to engrossed in our own little worlds here in 2007. Forgetting your own flesh and blood, and can you believe we have come to this?
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: Legal Distinctions/ car seats and heat

The reports of children left in the backs of cars are just devastating. I was so afraid that I would do this that when my daughter was small, I always took off one sandal and put it in the backseat with her. I figured I wouldn't get out of the car without a shoe. It's hard to think I would ever forget she was back there, but I have forgotten important meetings, and I have misplaced keys, glasses, my phone enough times to know that my mind can betray me. So maybe the shoe thing was a good idea; people are usually wearing slip off shoes in the warmer months - when it really matters - anyway.

I considered writing about this very tragedy, but it was just too sad. I am so, so, sorry for everyone - the children, the parents - who have suffered through this.


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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: Legal Distinctions/ car seats and heat


LauraMoriarty wrote:
The reports of children left in the backs of cars are just devastating. I was so afraid that I would do this that when my daughter was small, I always took off one sandal and put it in the backseat with her. I figured I wouldn't get out of the car without a shoe. It's hard to think I would ever forget she was back there, but I have forgotten important meetings, and I have misplaced keys, glasses, my phone enough times to know that my mind can betray me. So maybe the shoe thing was a good idea; people are usually wearing slip off shoes in the warmer months - when it really matters - anyway.

I considered writing about this very tragedy, but it was just too sad. I am so, so, sorry for everyone - the children, the parents - who have suffered through this.


Now putting your shoe in the back seat is even a BETTER idea than putting a toy in the front seat! You can still push the toy aside, but you need your shoe when you get out! I wonder who I could mention that to here at like a news station or something to mention as an idea! VERY good idea. Just not your right shoe right! :smileywink:
Vivian
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Re: Middle Chapters Discussion: Legal Distinctions/ car seats and heat



vivico1 wrote:

LauraMoriarty wrote:
The reports of children left in the backs of cars are just devastating. I was so afraid that I would do this that when my daughter was small, I always took off one sandal and put it in the backseat with her. I figured I wouldn't get out of the car without a shoe. It's hard to think I would ever forget she was back there, but I have forgotten important meetings, and I have misplaced keys, glasses, my phone enough times to know that my mind can betray me. So maybe the shoe thing was a good idea; people are usually wearing slip off shoes in the warmer months - when it really matters - anyway.

I considered writing about this very tragedy, but it was just too sad. I am so, so, sorry for everyone - the children, the parents - who have suffered through this.


Now putting your shoe in the back seat is even a BETTER idea than putting a toy in the front seat! You can still push the toy aside, but you need your shoe when you get out! I wonder who I could mention that to here at like a news station or something to mention as an idea! VERY good idea. Just not your right shoe right! :smileywink:




That is a great idea! a shoe. But its always those that want admit how forgetful they can be and would never admit that they could forget their own child. Well, Laura, you are a remarkable thoughtful person to recognize that we can make drastic mistakes when we are in a rush or hurry which that is how we live now. You know Laura, a story about this would be good. It would make people aware of the consequences and that it can happen to them also. The way you tell a story, you put so much heart into your writing. It would really be a help in our rushed world today. Maybe your next book unless something more terrifying is happening in our mad fast world.
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