Is there hope for this family?

The Hardcastle family in Las Vegas could easily be the family next door. The parents are hard-working professionals and their beloved daughter, Whitney, is a druggie without a future. Although she appears to be just another child of privilege, there would seem to be other factors in this situation.

Judge Gerald W. Hardcastle is a family court judge and deals with children who are neglected or abused, addicted or delinquent. His wife Kathy is the chief district judge of Clark County.

Their daughter brought a runaway boy home last year and the Hardcastles let him stay. The Hardcastles indulge their daughter with money, cars, a cellphone, nice clothing. They are waiting for her moment of clarity, the day she wakes up and they all laugh about this.

Read their story and see if you can spot where things really went wrong.

When you read of Whitney’s childhood, you can see that a lot of effort was put in by all concerned, but somehow there was an absence of, or a breakdown in communication. When the truth finally came out, it was too late for half-measures. The family was irrevocably launched into a downward spiral which continues today.

Her father blames Las Vegas, but I think Whitney was never adequately prepared for life.

It would seem that love alone is not enough to ensure your children’s happiness. In a hostile environment, it also takes the right kind of training in overcoming adversity. Perhaps Whitney is learning as a result of her exposure to the underside of Las Vegas. I hope so, because her parents seem to have gone into withdrawal.

Hug your children and shower them with love, but you had better prepare them for the real world too.

For my earlier posts on children of privilege, check here and here.

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0 Responses to Is there hope for this family?

  1. Da Goddess says:

    Parents have to be ever-vigilant, have to develop good communication with their kids early on, and need to learn to say no once in a while.

    I may not be the best mother in the world but I certainly know that the foundation I lay with my kids today is what could well save them tomorrow.

  2. That comes through clearly whenever you write about Little Dude.

    Preparing children for life is no walk in the park. Every environment has hostile components. It is a wonder that children, and their parents, survive as well as they do.

  3. Linda says:

    The Hardcastle story is sickening. It seems to me that the issues with denial are well-established and problematic even before the daughter started having problems.

    They give her everything but boundaries. They permit, but do not deny her anything. There is no effort to put their feet down and show her what is and is not acceptable. She is entitled, but hasn’t earned a single one of her privileges. When younger, she was told how to present herself, but wasn’t taught the values to support that position. When she got into trouble, in the midst of wealth and high fences, it somehow became the city’s fault.

    Meanwhile, the parents hide among their work and friends and cocktails and hobbies, letting their daughter slide ever closer to life-threatening danger.

    Sickening. I cannot help but despise them.

    And I pray desperately for her.

  4. Ana says:

    That is a sad and frightening story. I feel for the parents, and yet you are so right about the withdrawal. They have let go of the wheel –and you just can’t.

  5. Dave says:

    That’s scary. Judge Hardcastle presided over my wife’s divorce about 15 years ago. She left Las Vegas for the small town where we met. It’s sobering to think about how her (now our) daughters might have turned out if they had stayed. Their biological father would have indulged them just like Hardcastle.

    Sorry about the phony email. I’d rather this comment be anonymous. Remove it if you’d like.

  6. Maria says:

    And the cycle continues. I have seen this in my own kids. I don’t think it’s wealth, or poverty. I think it’s the garbage theory of maintaining good communication at all costs, even if it means we give into our kids when we shouldn’t. It’s the psychobabble the Dr. Phil’s of the world promote(btw, did you know that both his boys are underacheivers?)

    My girls know that the silent treatment is my weakness. (My mom used it on me.) I feel like a ping-pong ball. They adeptly figured out that all they needed to do to get me to cave into their demands was to cut me out of all communication.

    When giving in failed to produce adequate results in my kids’ grades, I began following through on my threat to remove privileges, at the advice of my dad. The end result was the complete breakdown of all communication with the girls running to live with their dad. After evaluating the situation, I began to see where I screwed up. Children of divorce have leverage other kids don’t. They can threaten our financial and emotional stability by simply demanding to live with the other parent. By doing this, they realize a power they should never have. In my case, I would do anything to keep from losing them. In the end, that is exactly what happened.

    I took the advice of my parents and grandmother and took them up on their threat. They have been with their dad since June 1st. They hate me for giving them what they demanded. (Daddy lives in a trailer park in the most hick part of California.) They no longer have a bedroom of their own, air conditioning (in the desert), their own computer, internet access or more than a single television. In addition, they have to stay quiet all day (Daddy works nights) and share a two bedroom trailer with a teenaged stepbrother. To boot, they live in a trailer park where known sex offenders live, one who used to babysit them for free. (Big surprise. And people wonder why kids get molested? Because there are idiots in this world who really think that the guy that offers to babysit for free is really just a good guy with a generous heart of gold…yeah…RIGHT!)

    Why did I do it? To show them how much they had. Maybe to show them the child support money wasn’t important to me (even though it was to my ex,) or maybe just because I was so worn out I let go of the rope.

    I did all the things the psycho-experts say to do. I work from home and was off work the minute they came home from school. My current husband made dinner every night and washed their clothes. We had them do chores on Saturday and took them to Mass every Sunday. I took away the phone, computer, television, internet, etc., when they disobeyed. Yet, the screaming and disrespect continued. I don’t know if that was a good sign or a bad one. All I know is the day my ex threatened to call CPS on me for slapping my daughter after she called me an F*ing whore (she was convinced I had had an affair while married to her dad…why this fabrication emerged 10 years after the divorce, I have no idea) was the final straw. I have 3 children with my second husband, and the three year old has autism. I cannot take the chance that my spoiled teenaged brats will cause me to lose them, especially since the harm it will do to my son will be immeasurable, so I let them go.

    Maybe my dad is right. It may be the turning point that molds them into responsible adults. Or it may be the rift that divides us forever. I have to take that chance, since I only get one crack at it and all the baloney the “professional experts” have offered thus far has developed into the mess I have today. There’s only one way to go, at this point!

  7. Don says:


    1. Divorce It always destroys the child’s world. It is survivable, but only with the best of parents and real dedication. Even then, it is a deep wound.

    2. Neglect. Money is not love, cellphones and cars are not time spent and things shared, and privilege is illusory. Everyone should have rich friends so they can see first hand how lonely, miserable, and evil your life can be, despite all the shiny stuff.

    3. No guidance given as to which things are actually worth spending time on, and which are not, and then spending time on the ones that are.

    The tipping point:

    4. A complete failure on the part of the parents to teach Whitney how much of the world is simply evil, and to provide an alternative to it, and be involved in that alternative. For us, it is church and a relationship with God, but even atheists can be involved in virtous and meaningful pursuits. I have seen lots of girls Whitney’s age under their own car with a wrench at the car show, or competing, with a black belt on, at a traditional martial arts tournament, or mastering writing or composing songs.

    But it is *fundamental* that the child is warned about what is out there, and what they will face, and how they are required to stand against it, and be someone that others can respect.

    Here’s how it works: First, they respect you, the parent. This starts as soon as they understand your words, not when they are teenagers. Then they respect their teacher, their sensei, their pastor, then they respect themselves.

    Only then do they respect their classmates enough to stand up to the creeps and dopers and lowlifes their little world is full of.

    Commitment. There is no alternative.

    Parents, God help us all.

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