The controversy surrounding the Morris County teen suing her parents for monetary support all the while being housed by a friend’s family and having her legal expenses fronted by the friend’s father is news around the world – not just in our backyard – but around the world.

What’s the reason for it?

Part of it is our public appetite for “soap opera” fodder – but I think it goes beyond that.

It’s a universal theme of how far a child can push a parent; and whether or not that parent’s love has limits.

You’d think that a child would be able to do just anything unthinkable to a parent without the parent cutting off ties altogether, but it some cases it doesn’t work out that way.

The Cannings, for their part, have yet to reach that point. Or so it seems.

The father of a Morris Catholic High School senior who is suing her parents for child support and college costs said Saturday he just wants his daughter to return home and is grieving that she publicly is perceived as “a spoiled brat.”

Sean Canning, a retired Lincoln Park police chief, on Saturday said he and his wife cannot bear to see Rachel being “savaged” in the court of public opinion and want her home. He has said that a college tuition fund in her name will be there for her.
“The war drums keep beating against her. My wife and I are pained to see this, to see her be savaged, to see Rachel be tabloid fodder.”

While Rachel, an honor student, cheerleader, basketball and lacrosse player, could not immediately be reached Saturday, Sean Canning said he does not believe Rachel is the author of rants against “greedy parents,” on a Facebook page entitled “Education for Rachel” and established Wednesday.

At least one post uses the pronoun “I” so that it appears to have been written by Rachel. That comment asserts that Rachel's parents should pay for college. But others use the pronoun “We” so that the author is unclear.

“We have been stunned by the financial greed of modern parents who are more concerned with retiring into some fantasy world rather than provide for their children’s college and young adult years,” says one post seemingly attributable to Rachel on the page.

Another purported Rachel comment on the page says : “We see parents like this every day, children were always an accessory to them and nothing more...”

Sean Canning said: “We don't think Rachel wrote those; maybe it's someone close to her. We just think this is a terrible tragedy, it's just become tabloid material. We want Rachel to come home.”

Since the fallout with her parents, Rachel has been living with the family of her best friend Jaime Inglesino in Rockaway Township. Father John Inglesino, a former township mayor, Morris County Freeholder and powerful attorney, is funding Rachel’s lawsuit. He contends that the action was started after he had two unproductive meetings with Sean Canning about Rachel’s future. The Canning’s court papers state the Inglesinos have interfered and made the situation worse.

Superior Court Judge Peter Bogaard last week ruled that Rachel was not immediately entitled to weekly child support and college costs and has set April 22 for a hearing on whether the young woman is emancipated or despite being 18, still within the legal “sphere of influence” by her parents and entitled to their financial support.

I’ve known families, who, for whatever reason, stopped talking to each other.

Maybe it was because a beloved family member came under the influence of someone not deemed desirable by the family. Perhaps drugs, or some other intoxicant seemed to be the cause.

Whatever the reason – painful though it may be, there should never be a reason to stop talking.

Given the circumstances of the Canning case, were you the parents of Rachel – could you take her back home?