15 Feb In Search of “Common Good”
February 15, 2013
From the Desk of Carol Soelberg:
Parental Rights is one family “respect” that we rarely have to explain. Common sense clearly attests to the fact stated in our UN Negotiating Guide:
“The nurturing, care of a loving mother and father can be the most significant contribution toward building a world of peace. It is primarily the responsibility of the parent to mold the character of the future citizens of the world. It is the parents who have the greatest interest in the long-term well being of their children. All levels of government, non-governmental organizations, and educational institutions should respect and support the vital role of parents.”
And yet, at United Families International, we spend considerable resources at the United Nations on the lookout for wording in international documents that usurps the role of parents; phrases like: “in cooperation with relevant interested parties” (which could mean anyone) or “unless it is considered not to be in the best interest of the child” (again, considered by whom if not the parent). Or perhaps language that suggest the child’s rights that could exclude parent’s prior right like: “the child’s right to confidentiality and privacy” or “the adolescent, and their right to reproductive health education, information and care” (referring to unfettered access to abortion.)
These phrases are slipped in looking very safe–even magnanimous to the unsuspecting eye, but when approved and placed in the hands of unelected UN committees to enforce at will on countries, sovereignty is lost and parental rights diminished!
Worse yet, what happens at the UN doesn’t stay at the UN! All around us, in our schools, legislatures, and even some club organizations, parental rights are being handed to everyone BUT the parents. For this reason UFI has asked a Parental Rights expert to educate us on a monthly basis on the issues that either threaten or strengthen parental rights.
Marlene Hinton is first a parent. But she is also a educator, and researcher with an exceptional passion for preserving and defending the rights of parents to do what we all recognize as their most vital role–“mold the character of the future citizens of the world.” We invite you to share Marlene’s passion as we all learn to better recognize how we can protect and preserve parental rights while building a world of peace–one child at a time.
Oh yes, please don’t miss another article from two young-adult advocates for the family. See it below.
President, United Families International
In Search of the “Common Good”
One sure way I disturb my otherwise unflappable husband is to enter the room in the middle of a movie he is watching and make comments and judgments about the show (“Oh, brother! That is SO FAKE!”).
It seems that we often engage in a similar behavior when discussing issues. We start at a middle point without perspective of the beginning, making it very difficult to come to a clear view of the logical conclusion of a particular argument. This type of conversation usually fails to reach a satisfactory agreement. In public policy, it is often disastrous. I’m reminded of a dear teacher friend who once commented that keeping a child home from school harms all of the other children by depriving them of resources (money that the school would get if my child were in attendance). Without a discussion about why the child is staying home (maybe she has chicken pox!) and following the logic trail to the end (which is more costly to the children – my child missing a week or a hundred children getting chicken pox?), inaccurate conclusions may be reached.
One such discussion centers on the role of families as part of the “common good.” That term implies a general benefit shared among all participants. Decades and volumes of research show that traditional, intact families provide the greatest advantage to all family members. That stability and strength is then distributed through the community and society thereby becoming a common good. This is where the issue begins and the discussion should start.
The center part of the conversation might include concerns regarding who has, or should have, the ultimate legal control over children – parents or government. Without the foundational understanding that strong, healthy families are the core of a strong, healthy society, it is easy to get caught up in the moral and legal positioning that may, in the end, harm families and deprive society of this essential common good.
For example, should the State reject home-packed lunches and substitute chicken nuggets, or expel children from school for pretending actions that are ubiquitous on television, computers, and video games? Should the State prescribe and administer mind-altering, controlled substances without parental notification or approval? Is it in the best interest of the children to be denied contact with their parents during school hours or for the State to conduct “invasive behavioral assessments” on children in their homes?
Government Taking “Ownership” of our Children
Following the logic trail of those who advocate for government taking legal “ownership” of children, there is a great deal of evidence from Eastern European countries and China, where children have been raised by the State in orphanages. While many of these children survive physically, problems with physical, emotional, and intellectual development are soon manifested.
In a graduate psychology class we watched a documentary about some of these children. I was most distressed by a beautiful teenage girl from Romania who asked her adoptive mother multiple times a day since being adopted (around ten years) if her mother loved her. The neurological wiring to allow her to experience love and feel secure in a personal relationship had never formed. Similar disconnects in neural pathways necessary for impulse control, rational thinking, and behavior management are common in children deprived of the emotional influence of caring families. That is something the State cannot imitate (Thomas, 2006).
* “Entry into childcare during the first year and extensive non-maternal childcare throughout early childhood predicts less social competence and cooperation, more problem behaviors, negative mood, aggression and conflict,” says Dr. Jenet Jacob (2009, abstract) in a critical review of childcare research studies published between 1998 and 2006.
* Studies link strong intellectual, emotional, behavioral, and communicative abilities to the consistent, loving interaction between mother and baby during the early months and years of life (Balbernie, 2001; Stamm, 2007).
* It is during the first months of life that the abilities to bond (form healthy relationships), focus attention (necessary for learning), and communication primarily wire up in the brain (Stamm, 2007).
Other children I know personally were turned over to their adoptive parents by State employees (Russia and China) who admitted to being unclear about an array of physical, intellectual, and emotional challenges these children faced. Not until parents began caring, observing, and responding to these children in their own homes were the scope and depth of their difficulties discovered and addressed.
We may make a plausible argument that these children would not have survived without State intervention. That may or may not be true. But is that a justifiable reason to put all families at risk and all children under the jurisdiction of the State by denying parental authority over children? Currently the State takes children from their homes to educate them, requires immunizations and sometimes other interventions, and often provides medical and dental services in addition to meals.
The Past May Predict the Future
The same people who applaud these measures might be shocked by the surgeries forced upon school children, typically tonsillectomies or sterilization, by the U.S. government in the first half of the twentieth century without parental knowledge or consent (Gatto, 2006). Many are aware that thousands of Native American children were compelled to attend boarding schools in order to mitigate the influence of their heritage and “civilize” them. Recreating these children to conform to the ideals of anonymous policy makers was considered necessary for the “common good.”
Part of the twentieth century Soviet experiment was to de-emphasize the traditional bourgeois family and parental ownership of children. Millions of children were pulled into State-run institutions. These became code words for danger, where most often “failure was complete and cruel” (Madison, 1968, p. 41). These “homes,” each with hundreds of children, were primarily used to produce workers for the “common good.” State ideology was systematically internalized to create “ideal persons” at the cost of individual identity, autonomy, and critical thinking skills. Lack of family relationships and support sharpened hardships in adulthood.
We cannot claim that these events would never happen. They did. Nor can we think they would never happen now, because they are. Thus, it would be unwise to assume that these types of controls won’t be imposed upon us if parental rights are superseded by policy makers who claim, by virtue of their education or position, to know better than parents what is best for their children.
While many government programs seek to buttress parenting on one hand, other actions diminish parental authority and weaken family ties through policies that supersede family privacy and freedom from State intrusion. This leads to the constant, yet futile response: more money is needed to fund more programs earlier, longer, bigger (e.g., President Obama’s advocacy of schooling for four-year-olds in his 2013 State of the Union address).
Be a Vigilant Parent
Parents must remain vigilant about local, state, and national policies that abrogate family influence and parental authority over their children. Scattered in the news are laws, policies, and discussions relating to what children are taught (Common Core Standards, human intimacy), what they should eat, health standards, activities allowed (no swings or playing tag!), and what constitutes “normal.”
In the weeks that follow we will look in detail at these laws, policies and discussions with the WHOLE picture in view. Through these discussions we will see that the seemingly innocuous conclusions that focus only on a small portion of an issue or isolated incidents are in reality putting all families increasingly at risk. And that NEVER contributes to the common good.
Marlene Hinton is a wife, mother, grandmother, and defines herself principally through faith, family, and freedom. A teacher for many decades, education, particularly in those three areas, is a focus. She holds degrees in history, Spanish, bilingual education, and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.
Balbernie, R. (2001). Circuits and circumstances: The neurobiological consequences of early relationship experiences and how they shape later behavior. Journal of Child Psychotherapy 27(3), 237-255.
Gatto, J., 2006. The underground history of American education. New York: The Oxford Village Press
Jacob, J. I. (2009). The socio-emotional effects of non-maternal childcare on children in the USA: A critical review of recent studies. Early Child Development and Care 179(5), 559-570.
Madison, B.Q, (1968). Social Welfare in the Soviet Union. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press
Stamm, J. (2007). Bright from the start: The simple, science-backed way to nurture your child’s developing mind from birth to age 3. New York: Gotham Books.
Thomas, L. (2006). The family and the political self. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Parental Rights: Who Cares the Most?
In communist Russia the average parent was not respected or considered important. Rather, children were considered “property of the state” since children were the state’s future. In the system of government in Russia, parents were considered the genetic source for children and the state was the upbringing, even though the parents felt otherwise. Russia’s strict regimen of child upbringing during its communist era is seeping more and more into our time and is disrespecting the parents’ rights over their children to raise the child based on the child’s needs.
The communist pretense for such a strict regime was to benefit the state and society. Fast forward to today, local, federal, and state governments expand their power in an effort to protect children, but that expansion of power is also taking away the power of the parents to raise their children. So where do you draw the line between protecting the child and dictating to parents how to raise a child? Read more …