Parental Rights

“Parental Rights” is apparently an issue dogging this “survey” on the same sex marriage of adults. Why?

“Parent Rights.” It sounds a good phrase to run off the tongue. “Parents should have rights to bring up their own children in the way they wish.” We are hearing it all the time in this debate on same sex marriage.

But, even when we come to physical issues, the broader community, by way of the law, is allowed to intervene in these “rights”. Children must be physically cared for, must be sent to school, be inoculated against major diseases except in exceptional cases, and must be fed healthily. The law can even intervene against parents’ beliefs and wishes in order to save life, for example by ordering a blood transfusions for a child.

But I can’t understand how “parental rights” will be infringed by a “yes” answer. I cannot imagine some sort of push to allow either parents or the law to give permission for under age, gay children to marry!

So how can “parental rights” be involved in this discussion?

The only conclusion that can be drawn is that some mothers and fathers want the right to have their children know only a view of life that has been completely filtered through a prism of their parents’ beliefs.  So do they think they have the right to have other people’s lives fit their filter too for the sake of avoiding conversations with their children?

Parents, who are with their own children more than anyone else, who are listened to by their children, are loved by their children have, will always have more importance in children’s lives and decisions than will others. They have “rights” as well as many opportunities to express their views to their own children. They have a right to demand certain values in their own home.

But in my view, they do not have a right to prevent their children from knowing about other parts of the world and from being exposed to different viewpoints. The history of our country and others, the working of our society and our legal system are all based on an assumption of an acknowledgement of freedom of thought and views that can be subject to argument and discussion. Children need this freedom too.

And yes, I firmly believe each child has the inalienable right to know about other people’s beliefs both in religious or non religions areas .

If parents can only interact with their children on the basis of those children’s total belief in their ideas and no knowledge of alternative ways of thinking and no discussion and debate, then one must question the value of those very beliefs that they wish to pass on to their children.


About Anne Powles

I am retired from paid employment. During my working life I have been variously and sometimes contemporaneously, wife, mother of four, lawyer, teacher and psychologist. I have also been a serial education junkie. As are we all, I have been an observer of the world around me. Here I have recorded some of my memories, observations and theorisings.
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