While there are tons of issues facing the family these days, one that stood out to me this week as I read different articles was the definition of parental rights. How much can a parent choose for their kids? How much is turned over to other societal units?
While there are parents who abuse, neglect and practically destroy their children, most parents care deeply about them. Biologically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually they are connected with their children, whether they realize it or not. You can't hurt your child without ultimately hurting yourself.
But I do realize that there are parents that need help with parenting. I've run into a few. It's honestly one of the saddest things I've seen when a parent hurts a child that completely trusts them. And I think that situation is increasing in statistics. Why? Parents' lives are off-kilter.
I found an article originally published in the New York Times that addresses this issue. This article talked about how abusive parenting is causing mental illnesses, violence and a decline in the economy. He talked about an experiment in South Carolina that really made a difference. The experiment was educating parents on how to discipline children, then allowing them to make decisions.
This was something that crossed my mind before. We should educate and empower parents, not take their rights away. Parents get a ton of lip service in this society, but very little support.
I think that parents should be educated and given options and resources for educating their children. Then the parent should make the ultimate decision--whether to homeschool, utilize an online curriculum, attend a public or private school, or a little of everything. They shouldn't be forced into a one-size fits all model, like what happened to the Johanssens in Sweden. Doing so denies the fact that we are individuals in society, that we have a right to be ourselves.
If people are educated, they believe in family and doing what's best for them. Linda and Richard Eyre, in their column printed in the March 17, 2013 issue of the Deseret News, pointed that out. They cited a statistic that divided our nation into four groups: the faithfuls (religious conservatives), the engaged progressives (educated liberals whose core belief is tolerance and diversity), the disengaged (those who have dropped out of politics, community and church), and the American dreamers (who wait for society to rescue them).
Two of the groups, the faithfuls and the engaged progressives, were the ones who cared about family and children. They were committed to this core belief and made it a high priority. What do those two groups have in common? An education and an ideology.
But instead of educating and helping parents, society aims at taking over their role. I read three articles in the Deseret News that illustrate that. Culture of Can't describes how school administrators use policies to be unresponsive to parents' concerns.
This article tells how a bill to provide at-home sex education curriculum failed to pass in the House because they say that parents have plenty of resources online to help them. Unfortunately, that isn't the point. The point is that parents expect schools to do it for them like they've been doing for the past few decades, and they need to be encouraged to teach their children at home about those things.
And in this article, Celia Baker describes the dilemma that schools face with special education. Instead of schools trying to decide if all special students should be integrated into the regular classroom or not, the parents, along with therapists and trained professionals that they trust, should decide what is best for the child.
If parents want to continue to hold onto their rights, they need to look for options and resources themselves. But without the support of society, that's very hard. We need to be encouraging support, resources and options for parents. Otherwise, the basic unit of society, the family, will fail, because the front-line defenders were undermined and ignored. If that happens, our society will turn to chaos.