Friday, September 14, 2012

The Myth of Parents' Rights

Many times I hear people speak of parents' rights. Here in the United States we have a love affair with power and telling others what to do. No wonder we assume that with age or with higher degrees a person has authority over others. The problem is that we do not actually have rights over others. I often come back to the 14th Amendment because it established equal rights under federal laws. This amendment does not discriminate between sexes, ethnicities, jobs held, amount of wealth, or any other factor. Yes, children do have equal rights under the law.

To be clear we have no rights over our children. Instead, we have responsibilities to them. Each child has his or her own hopes, dreams, mind, and body. Our only job is to keep them safe from harm until they are old enough and wise enough to do this for themselves. Rarely does this responsibility require a medical decision to be made due to imminent death. This responsibility never requires hitting a child or calling a child names.After all, discipline comes from within, not from punitive measures.

So then, what should a parent do? A parent must be sure a child has clothing, a school, food, can participate in his or her interests, and is kept from allergies or harmful animals to name a few basics. The great thing about this ideal, is that we lay the ground work of respect, kindness, and positive decision making while our children learn from our example then go out and create a life for themselves bit by bit. None of this has to cost a lot of cash but it does take time. But as a dear friend often says, "Why have children if you don't want to spend time with them?"

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