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Poisoning Mom Over Smartphone Limits?

A 12-year-old was taken into custody for attempting to poison her mother in retaliation for imposing limits on her smartphone. The story is all over Facebook and tops trending parenting news on Google.

According to a statement from the Boulder, Colo., sheriff's department, the mother smelled bleach in her water glass on two recent occasions. Her daughter confessed she had intentionally added the bleach after the mother took away the girl's smartphone.

The girl is being held at a local juvenile detention center.

Imposing rules on kids can come with consequences for the parents, as Rachel Cusk explores in a New York Times think piece, although rarely as drastically as what happened to this mother of a tween in Colorado (and mothers in Greek tragedies, as Cusk illustrates). Cusk asks, among many things, whether the parent could have found different ways to express authority over her kids when they were younger, rather than using her size advantage to get them to do what she wanted.

"When my children were small, I realize now, I routinely used my greater physical strength as a form of authority. If they wouldn't come when I asked them to, I could simply go and pick them up. If they wouldn't sit still, I could hold them still. It all seemed normal and innocent enough, but these days I look back on it with growing amazement. If I had never had access to that brute form of authority, I ask myself, what better authority might I have learned? If I had lacked the arms to pick them up and set them down against their will, to coerce them, would some more platonic parent-child relationship have emerged?" Cusk writes.

It's a question most parents ask themselves. No doubt the smartphone mom is also wondering where it all started to go so wrong. Taking away a smartphone isn't the worst fate for a tween or teen. What about the girl's life made it seem worthy of a Greek tragedy?

Image via Twenty20/PaoloCristaldi

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