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How responsible are we for our kids' actions?

Being a parent is not for sissies. As a working parent, you will question whether you made the right decision each time you discipline from your cubicle, referee sibling fights from a hotel room or attend a business meeting rather than a class party. You inevitably will hear your kid say at least once: "All you care about is your job."

You will learn that regardless of the choices you make, things will happen with your children. They will happen when you are present and when you are not around, and when they are beyond your control, they can be devastating.

An article in the Miami Herald sent my heart racing in a way that only parents of teens can understand. It's a horrible story of a teen and the deep trouble she has gotten into.

VillaThe article was about a 19-year-old University of Miami student who was coming home late from a night out at  the LIV nightclub in Miami Beach. She allegedly had been drinking. Around 4:30 a.m., her 2011 Audi hit another car at an intersection, an accident that claimed the life of a grandmother. On Monday, the student was slapped with a DUI manslaughter charge for the fatal wreck. The charge carries a 15-year maximum prison sentence. She also was charged with a third-degree felony count of possessing a false drivers license. Prosecutors earlier said that Villanueva had several fake IDs which she used to get into the nightclub.

Villanueva, a UM sophomore, played varsity lacrosse and soccer at Palmer Trinity High, has pleaded not guilty and is under house arrest pending trial. There is a real possibility this girl will do jail time.

There's more: the family of the grandmother, Eyder Ayala, 68, is suing Villanueva and her father, who owns the Audi she was driving, for negligence.

This is an upsetting story from every viewpoint. Commenters on the Herald site have called Villanueva a spoiled rich kid and quite a few have said she and her parents deserve the trouble they have gotten into.

I'm aligned with this commenter: This is very sad, and here but for the grace of God goes any teenager's parent.

I know some of you might say, my kid would never be in this kind of trouble. You might say, I take the time to teach my kids responsibility and consequence.

Let's ask this question to any parent: If your child was off at college, can you be sure he or she wouldn't drink and drive?  I know, you've given the lecture a million times. I certainly have. But can you be 100 percent sure your kid would NEVER do it. And, if he or she did, should you be responsible if you have title to the car he or she drives?

I would answer no parent can be certain.  I feel once a child turns 18 and heads off to college, that child becomes responsible for his actions and unfortunately, teens learn from consequences of their actions.

Blogger Deborah Crawford writes: Responsibility is not a lesson that can be learned from lectures. You cannot tell someone to behave responsibly and expect that your parenting job is done. Responsibility is a growing and learning experience. And, most of us need a bit of help when it comes to learning to be “responsible”.

There are teens who max out credit cards, skip school, curse at their parents and never suffer consequences of their actions. There are teens that do the right thing all the time. So, when a child turns 18 or goes off to college and messes up, are both these sets of parents responsible?

Readers, at what age do you feel teens are responsible for their own actions and as busy as we all are these days, what can you do as parents to make them more aware of consequences?