Today I was going to write about appreciation.  I saw a lovely programme on the telly, called Undercover Boss, and when the boss came out of the covers and told them how grateful he was for all their hard work, it was beautiful.  Also, my dear friend, Emma, wrote to me yesterday to tell me how much she enjoys my posts, and to be appreciated by someone you hold in such high regard means the world.

But then someone in one of my business Facebook groups wrote of a dilemma she’s facing today.  And the replies incensed me to such an extent that I just have to write about that instead.  Before we begin, I do have to say that no, I don’t have children.  But I have been a child, I know and am related to some children, and not having children does not preclude me from having a valid viewpoint on personal responsibility.  If you think that people who don’t have children shouldn’t have an opinion about children, click here for mumsnet.

The story concerns a lovely lady who runs a personal fitness business, and has available for sale some online fitness programmes.  The deal is that you click on a button that effectively says ‘yes I’d like to buy your programme please’, you then pay via Paypal (requiring an email and password, or full credit card details), and she sends you a link to the programme and a code.  You then click on the link and have to enter the code in order to get what you’ve paid for.  Then you’re free to download the programme you’ve ordered.

Her dilemma is that she received a communication from a woman, who explained that her 12 year old daughter had gone onto fitness lady’s site last night, and bought a programme without her mother’s permission.  Since she hadn’t bought the programme herself, please could she have her money back.  She then added that since her daughter had been doing this to her a lot lately, she’d banned her daughter from using her computer.  Lovely fitness lady wanted to know whether anyone thought she should refund the woman’s money, especially given that the code had been used and the programme downloaded.

I bet you can guess what my take on all this is, but just in case you’re in any doubt as to what I think about taking responsibility for your actions, I’ll give it to you anyway.  I say BULLSHIT you should refund this lady’s money.  Apart from anything, if that’s all it takes to make you supervise your TWELVE YEAR OLD DAUGHTER while she’s on the internet, I’d say you’ve had a very cheap lesson indeed.  You don’t have to go too far into any news site to find a story of a child being groomed on the internet; or stories of children being bullied online, often to the point of taking their own lives.

And please don’t tell me it’s too hard and that you’re too busy.  As far as I can remember from when I was growing up, hard and busy are two words that have been associated with parenting from the beginning of time.  If my mum can make sure I don’t watch Grange Hill in the living room, while she’s making my tea in the kitchen, you can make sure your twelve year old daughter only uses the computer when you can see what she’s doing.

Now some other people thought the opposite to me.  It sometimes happens, and most of the time I’m happy to consider another point of view.  But when people are saying that lovely fitness lady should refund the money because it’s not the woman’s fault her daughter spent her money, I still have a problem with it.  Because it kind of is her fault.  Her daughter obviously knows her PayPal password, or had access to her credit card.  I’m pretty relaxed about money, but even I know not to give someone my passwords or credit cards unless I’m happy for them to use them!  If your kids know how to spend your money, they’re going to spend your money.  Can I really be the only person who doesn’t think that’s rocket science?  And it’s not like this was a one-click purchase: it’s not like buying a book on Kindle that’s automatically downloaded to your device.  This required a deal of effort, first of all to make the purchase, and second of all to download the programme.

I think what it boils down to is this: responsibility.  Personal responsibility to be precise.  If the woman can’t take responsibility for her actions (failing to implement sufficient online parental controls), why should it be up to lovely fitness lady to take responsibility for the woman’s daughter’s actions????  If it were me.  If I were that parent.  I’d have taken the computer away the first time it happened and the daughter would be working to pay off the money she spent.  And if you still think she should get a refund, consider this.  In olden times, the daughter would have stolen the money from her mother’s purse, and gone to buy stuff from the shops.  If she opened, or used whatever she bought, do you still think her mother should be entitled to a refund?