From the Desk of Laura Bunker:
Parents, the beginning of a new year is a good time to recommit to being an “intentional parent.” Commit to holding firmly to the steering wheel of your parental rights and responsibilities.
“The parental rights battlefield is by no means new,” explains Dawn Frandsen in today’s alert, “it has been going on for generations. Until fairly recently, it was an obvious given that parents did have rights, by virtue of the simple fact that they were parents.”
Many forces are trying to undermine your parental rights in today’s world, but your family is too precious to let the government take over the wheel.
We invite you to read Dawn’s alert below because, “Our own children need the security of knowing that they belong to us, and they should expect that their children would belong to them.”
Faithfully for Families,
United Families International, President
Are Parents Really Necessary?
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” ~ Proverbs 22:6
“Those who have youth on their side control the future.”~ Hans Schemm, Nazi Teachers’ League
A few years ago, MSNBC initiated a leftist progressive campaign with tag lines that declared we are, “One Nation in Progress” and should “celebrate the best ideas, no matter where they came from.” Melissa Harris-Perry, a political science professor, and MSNBC show host did one of the promotional spots for the campaign. The “best idea” she promoted was that “we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.”
Inherent to the parental authority argument is the obvious biological bond—something that should be or at least, used to be, non-transferable except in extreme child-centric protective circumstances. Under such circumstances where a child could not be raised by his own parents, the biological bond was replicated by another set of parents who accepted the role and responsibility and thereby assumed the rights necessary to protect and raise the child. As society shifts closer and closer to progressive ideas like Harris-Perry’s, parents are encouraged and in various ways forced to abdicate and relinquish many aspects of that unique relationship that should prevail in all but those most extreme circumstances.
Some of the current methods being used to remove or supplant the rights of parents are easily discernible but others are more covert, moving stealthily under the shadow of sound bytes like “children’s rights” or “best interest of the child.”
There are and always have been problematic parenting methods. But when solutions to “problems” are applied to the population at large, rather than to resolve rare outlier instances, the overall result is to dilute at best and eliminate at worst, the pre-political rights, responsibilities and obligations that parents have, and should have, simply because they are parents.
Public education is the issue that comes most readily to people’s mind in the discussion of government intrusion on parental rights. Sometimes governments make the assumption that the community/state/school is better equipped and therefore has the rightful obligation to provide a means of educating children.
This is not new by any means. It goes back a long, long way.
Founding Puritan settlers had deep belief that everyone should be able to read and understand the Bible. Puritan parents either taught their children in their homes or in a communal “Dame School” situation. However as more and more non-Puritans arrived in the new land, many of whom could not read themselves and could neither see the need nor had the individual means to adequately educate their children, Puritan leaders, in an effort to create good citizens passed the Law of 1642. This law mandated all heads of households to ensure that all of their dependents—children, apprentices and servants—be taught to read. Parents who neglected to do so faced fines or even the removal of their children from their homes.
The intent of the law was not so much about school attendance as it was about cultivating good citizens who knew how to read the Bible and to read and understand the laws of the new Colony. And it seemed reasonable to assume that any parent who refused to provide means for the attainment of such a critical skill was indeed neglectful in their duties.
As with all best-laid intentions, the mandate of the initial law was not sufficient. Too many parents were for whatever reason, not teaching their children to a high enough standard. So five years later, in 1647, the “Old Deluder Satan Act” was passed. This law mandated that every town with more than fifty families must have a grammar school and if there were more than 100 families, a secondary school was required as well. The curriculum was mandated, as were attendance requirements, assessments, and fees that covered operational costs. This new law shifted the obligation for educating children from their parents to the community—an idea that has intensified so much in the present day that it is now the government’s moral obligation to provide and every child’s predetermined right to participate (a “right” now being extended to babies and adults) in state sponsored education.
What about preschool?
The current universal preschool drumbeat is a two-pronged attack on parental rights and family structure that is a bit more surreptitious.
One side of the pre-k movement is the mass marketed idea that women can contribute better to society by going to work than they can by staying home and raising their children. The second tine is the agenda promoting the idea that children will never succeed in life unless they participate in institutionalized learning as early as possible. In spite of the consistently ignored research that preschool does not accomplish what everyone pretends it will, the mantra instructs young mothers that abdicating their parental rights “in the best interest of their child” is the responsible thing to do. (Ask yourself this: Would you have been more successful if you had been in daycare/preschool at six months?)
Another component that robs parents of their rights that begins as soon as children are enrolled in the education system, regardless of their age, is the increased data collection, taking place in all sorts of stealth ways and vaguely discernible ways through the schools.
There are parents who do not agree that the community/state/school is better equipped to teach their children, and those parents who choose for whatever reason to homeschool their children, are in the vast minority and in some countries such parents are considered outlaws—because keeping children out of the public school system is defined as “child endangerment.”
There is plenty of bureaucratic lip-service given to the importance of parental roles and rights; the placating platitudes are as copious as they are broad, but the actual legal support is ever waning. Here are a couple of other examples:
Codifying The “Shared Responsibility” Concept
Two years ago the Family Engagement in Education Act (introduced in 2013) cited in its Congressional findings that:
“Positive benefits for children, youth, families and schools are maximized through effective family engagement that—
(A) is a shared responsibility in which schools and other community agencies and organizations are committed to reaching out to engage families in meaningful ways and families are committed to actively supporting their children’s learning and development;
(B) is continuous across a child’s life from birth to young adulthood; and
(C) reinforces learning that takes place in all settings.”
In other words, as Ms. Harris-Perry pointed out “we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.”
No Child Left Behind has now been repackaged into the “Every Student Succeeds Act.” The new version of federal education directives will the strengthen and increase funding for the universal preschool and for full-service community schools to help “strengthen the network for social services that students need to succeed.”
Attempts to Ban Conversion Therapy
Several states have made it illegal to counsel minors with sexual-identity issues. Many more states are considering such legislation and the idea is being pushed (with presidential support) on a federal level as well. School counselors are frequently on the front line of this issue because they are legally able to counsel with students about many issues—without a professional license—and then are not required to disclose the discussion to parents.
The parental rights battlefield is by no means new; it has been going on for generations. Until fairly recently, it was an obvious given that parents did have rights, by virtue of the simple fact that they were parents. But laws are written according to the needs and values of the day. The Third Amendment to the Constitution (soldiers residing, uninvited, in homes) may seem a non-issue now, but at the time, it was a huge concern.
The point is that for many reasons, fewer and fewer adults are becoming parents. As the number of parents decreases will the concern for codified and protecting parental rights decrease as well? In addition to the decreasing population of parents, the definition of the family has changed so much that the meaning of parent has evolved as well. Already in many states, parental responsibility is a direct reference to the liability that parents have for children’s actions, rather than their duty to nurture, teach and protect.
Another thing that is critical to remember is that parental rights are the quintessential equivalent of religious rights. They support each other and as one goes so will go the other. Just as we need to protect religious liberty, we must protect parental rights before both are stripped away.
One parting reminder from an infamous 1933 speech: “When an opponent says, ‘I will not come over to your side,’ I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to us already…you will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time, they will know nothing else but this new community.’”
There are plenty of fronts that could use our efforts to battle for parental rights, but we can’t forget that one of the best ways to protect parental rights for the future will be to provide an environment where our own children can recognize from first-hand experiences what parents can and should do for their children. We cannot be the generation who succumbs to the drumbeat that “kids belong to the whole community.” Our own children need the security of knowing that they belong to us, and they should expect that their children would belong to them.
Dawn Frandsen is: Wife to one; Mother to six; Adamant advocate for large families and small government; On an unremitting quest for the perfect brownie recipe.
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