A Teenage Perspective
2009

by Maura, Elizabeth, and Robert [last name withheld], age 15
Siblings and children of an Ohio judge

At a recent meeting with six Ohio judges’ children, we discussed factors that have altered our lives due to our parents’ occupations.  I suppose that before this conversation, I never completely thought about how children and teens of politicians all over the United States may have a lot in common.  I, myself, have become used to some of the negative occurrences I have been a part of, considering them to be more or less a part of my everyday life.

While discussing some of our recent experiences, I soon realized that, as the children of judges, we are in a minority.  Not many other children can relate to our unique experiences. So for that single reason, it is of utmost importance to discuss any negative or positive events related to being a child of a judge with your parents. Even talking to other children of judges can help you understand how to deal with certain situations.

So, to all teens and children in Ohio who may want to talk with others, I encourage you to do just that. The next time an opportunity arises to attend a judicial conference with your family, you may feel like there are a lot of other places you would rather be. Trust me. Talking to other kids who you have a lot in common with can help immensely.

As teens of judges you may face situations that you would not have encountered otherwise. Some of your classmates may treat you differently. Some might become jealous, but you have to learn to deal with them. I have had kids in my class say some things that they probably would not have said before my dad became a judge.

This past year my brother, sister, and I were in our freshmen year of high school. We have always been conscientious students and care greatly about our grades.  At the end of the year there was an academic awards ceremony, and I got the math award for the freshmen class, and Elizabeth received the English award for our class. We have never been ones to brag or say anything if we receive an award. So when one girl came up to me after the ceremony and said, “It wasn’t surprising that you and your sister got awards since everyone knows you pay for your grades.”  I was taken aback and was not sure what to say. I told the girl that I work hard for the grades I get, and my parents definitely do not pay for them.

I was obviously hurt that this girl would say something like that. I went home and talked to my parents. If you are faced with a situation like this one, I think it would be helpful to talk to your parents about it. Try not to argue with the person who confronted you but just simply tell them that what they said was not true and walk away from the situation.

Once we reached high school, my brother and sister and I noticed that there was a definite change in the way peers were aware of our dad’s occupation. Our dad was first elected just as we were starting middle school. It was a great opportunity — aside from the never ending pancake breakfasts and spaghetti dinners — and all of our close friends and classmates supported us. We wore bright red t-shirts exclaiming, “_____ [name withheld] for Judge,” and it became a shirt that a lot of kids wanted to wear. We each had a lot of fun handing out t-shirts, balloons, and pamphlets.

It was overall an experience where we learned to have fun despite the excess stress we were simultaneously facing.  As we reached high school though, the dynamics changed drastically. Many students within the high school received their licenses and began to drive. As an immediate result, we found that many peers would approach us because they had been in court due to a driving incident. They would often be angry with us because their license had been revoked due to an accident or because they had been speeding.  As is the case with all Ohio juvenile court judges, court cases are confidential so for that reason we had no idea what these students were talking about.  

What’s more is that we have no control over that kind of a situation. If a student is not cautious when driving, they will, and should be, reprimanded for that behavior. In those situations, we usually just calmly explain that our father cannot talk about cases with us, and regardless of that fact, there is nothing we can do about the outcome.

For us, because we are triplets and also an extremely close-knit family, it was easy for us to talk to each other about some of the conversations we have had with fellow students. If, as the child of a judge, you would like to share similar experiences, we encourage you to do just that either by talking with your parents or other children of Ohio judges. Not many other people will understand or remain a confidante when discussing something like this. We encourage you to meet with other teens and kids, as well as speak out if you ever experience something harmful, either physically or emotionally. Talking together about similar experiences can make all the difference between feeling like you are the only one in some of the situations and realizing that you are not alone.


For information about the Advisory Committee on the Judicial Family Network, please contact Education Services Specialist Sara Stiffler, Supreme Court of Ohio, 614.387.9452.