Some good (legal) advice for parents |

Some good (legal) advice for parents

Karel Ancona-Henry
Appeal Staff Writer

Nearly three years ago, I walked into Smith’s in Dayton to do some grocery shopping, before picking up my girls who were visiting their dad.

As I walked in the store, there were my dear angels acting as though they needed to be issued straight jackets and duct tape.

I was horrified by the behavior of my children, who would never have thought for a minute to conduct themselves in this manner. At least not in my presence.

So there they were, out of control and oblivious to my (timely?) arrival. Leaving my cart, I approached the first one, paddling her butt before getting hold of and paddling the second.

They were stunned. I looked around at the shoppers, daring them to have an opinion about my having spanked two very deserving children.

Then quietly I said, “If your father allows you to disrespect him in this manner, I guess that’s his choice. But so help me, you will not disrespect everyone else in this store. Your behavior is absolutely unacceptable. Please think about the fact that, even when you’re not with me, this town is small enough that people know you are half mine. I will not have my children behaving in such a manner.”

I then finished my shopping, loaded two crying girls in the car and took them home, where they adjourned to their bedrooms and wrote essays about what they had done, why they had done it and what they thought those around them thought about their behavior.

We’ve never dealt with that issue again. And they’ve not had a spanking since, either. It hasn’t been necessary.

When I asked their dad what he was thinking to allow such behavior, he replied, “I don’t want them to be mad at me.”

“It is your job,” I said, “to be a dad, which means at times, you will piss them off. So what. Step up, be a parent and get it handled. They’ll get over it.”

There are joint-custody situations where one parent may be afraid to discipline, fearing the other parent will blow things out of proportion and use it as yet another reason to go to court. When parents engage in false reporting in order to serve their own power game, the children (and the parent who has the courage to demand positive behavior and respect) lose.

Ronnie Hannaman, executive director of the Carson City Chamber of Commerce and I were discussing the chamber’s role in creating a good quality of life for the area and how parenting plays a role in raising children who don’t wind up in trouble.

To that end, the chamber’s Quality of Life Committee and Carson City District Attorney Neil Rombardo have made available, “Parents’ Responsibilities and Rights.”

The tri-fold brochure cites Nevada law in addressing, from a legal standpoint, what responsibilities parents have in raising their children, as well as the liabilities that a parent can incur due to their child’s actions.

It also addresses what actions a parent is allowed to take in disciplining their children.

In part, the brochure reads “Parents have the right to have their children cooperate with and obey their parents. As such, parents are permitted to discipline their children, provided that the discipline doesn’t rise to the level of abuse or neglect (NRS 432B.150). For example, parents have the right to take reasonable measures to exercise discipline, such as spanking or paddling (NRS 201.110).”

But before it ever gets to needing to paddle a little hiney, we (parents) need to be setting very clear boundaries about what is or isn’t acceptable, modeling (demanding and giving) respect and clearly communicating our expectations.

For crying out loud parents, whether you’re together or not, back each other up and demand respect. Everyone will benefit. Kids are smart. They get it. These things make children feel more secure, which supports them in so many ways, to succeed.

In my experience, it gives my girls, me and their dad, the space to really enjoy being with each other.

To get a copy of “Parents’ Responsibilities and Rights,” visit Click on “Live, Work and Play.”

• Karel Ancona-Henry can be reached at or at 246-4000.