March 14, 2013
From the Desk of Carol Soelberg:
It has been a very exciting week at the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Because a consensus document was not reached last year, the opposition has pulled all stops to make sure all their anti-family language is included in this year’s outcome document.
The pro-family/pro-life delegations are under incredible pressure and we have fought deceptive articles in such publications as the New York Times and The Guardian about who it really is that is holding up agreement on the CSW outcome document which is slated to provide and protect women’s rights as they relate to violence.
We have had to defend every one of our family issues including sanctity of life, parental rights, religious liberty, and protection of national sovereignty against such things as:
- “sexual and reproductive rights and services” (abortion),
- the same-sex agenda that manifests itself in language related to “sexual orientation and gender identity,”
- “comprehensive sex education” that promotes early sexualization of our children and seeks to change sexual and gender norms all the while teaching children to advocate for their “sexual rights,”
- redefinition of the family (“various forms of the family exist”).
The battle cry of the opposition is often the word “justice.” They use that ideology like we use the ideology of family. We often hear the terms: “social justice,” “economic justice,” “gender justice.” This year we heard a new one: “erotic justice.” We can only imagine what this justice entails!
The ranks of the countries we have depended on in the past to support pro-family language continue to diminish under the pressure of financial threats and “politically correct” peer-pressure. The negotiations will continue until late Friday afternoon and we will be there supporting our delegates and members of the pro-family coalition as the battle to preserve families continues to the end.
There were, however, a couple of high spots in the week. This year at CSW, we have had with us an outstanding group of college-age students who are part of our International Voice for Youth advocacy training program. They are brilliant, articulate youth who have been exceptional negotiators, parallel event presenters and mission visit attendees. Watching these young people excel and feeling their excitement for this important work gives us all much hope for the future and faith in those who will be advocating for the family.
It was also very comforting to witness the excitement of the Catholic delegates and non- governmental organizations (NGO’s) as they celebrated the appointment of a new Pope. Pope Francis (formerly Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina) will be a stalwart advocate for marriage and children. He is known as a humble man, a dedicated servant to the poor and an outspoken advocate for marriage as the union of one man and one woman. When a bill to redefine marriage was proposed in Argentina he said:
“Let’s not be naïve, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”
The Catholic delegation here at the UN (known as the Holy See) is critical to the work of the pro-family community and we are deeply grateful for their continued perseverance and faithfulness to family issues.
Paying attention to “parental rights “
The effort to enhance the CSW outcome document with language supporting parental rights is always at the top of our “to do” list. The negotiations this year include numerous discussion and challenges to this basic right. What challenges your parental rights? What does that mean and who would do such a thing? Interestingly “parental rights” are being challenged by the development of the concept of “children’s rights.” Children’s rights can be distilled into two categories: Protective and Autonomous. Few dispute the need to provide a child with protection and safety, physical care, and other basic needs (protection rights), but what about a child’s right to privacy, sexual expression, education, and access to all types of information (autonomous rights)?
In this week’s alert our parental rights expert Marlene Hinton gives us some important insights and thoughts to consider. It is our desire to have parents everywhere understand and hold dear their rightful influence in the character development, upbringing, and protection of their children.
As the Commission on the Status of Women concludes, we will inform you of the outcome. It is our constant effort and desire to protect the family be it at the UN or in your community or your law-making body. We invite your support of this critical effort.
President, United Families International
Most of us find the little leak, a slight misunderstanding, or an insignificant cut not worth attending to, at least until a better time. I remember accompanying a cousin to visit her dear friend – we were all in college – as she lay dying in a hospital bed with a deteriorating heart condition brought on by strep throat. This talented, active young woman hadn’t had time to rest and care for such a minor thing as a sore throat.
In our discussions of parental rights we ought to start at the beginning where most things start: with the little things. That may help us discover how we have relinquished so much of our common sense authority by being inattentive to small matters. Such losses have occurred in ways that now seems normal – even unthinkable to reclaim – and therefore are obscured to our consciousness.
There are at least three reasons why a parent might relinquish custody of a child:
1 – They are forced to. Force or threat of violence that creates fear of harm or total separation for the child or other family members usually results in compliance. Even at this point parents often risk their lives to save their children as a father in Miami did recently.
2 – They think it is best for the child. A mother might give custody of her newborn to adoptive parents who can provide the type of home life that is optimal for her baby.
3 – They don’t know they are doing it. Lack of awareness of the reality or consequences of certain behaviors may result in diminished influence and control. Dr. Gordon Neufeld, for example, warns that peer influence is replacing that of parents in creating a sense of identity in children: “The chief and most damaging of the competing attachments that undermine parenting authority and parental love is the increasing bonding of our children with their peers.”
Contributing this tendency, he says, is “government babysitting” in the form of day care, from birth to adulthood, whether by subsidized child-care or preschool programs or in the form of public institutions such as schools. He urges parents to establish networks of extended adult family and close friends for support, rather than allowing the State to take over.
It is important to pay attention to public schools because it fits into all three categories. It is compulsory, and for a century and a half was accompanied by the threat of the State removing the children from parental control if parents were non-compliant.
Currently in the news, a German family has asked for asylum in the U.S. where homeschooling is legal because they want to teach their own children. Despite being a democracy that is respectful of human rights, Germany, like many other countries, does not consider parental control over the education of one’s children a valid parental right.
Many parents also see public schools as best for a child. No one I know would argue whether education and learning are indeed “bests,” but thanks to the alert dedication of groups like the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), and dating back to Pierce v. the Society of Sisters in 1925, parents have reclaimed the right to determine their own children’s education path.
I attended public schools; every child did in those days. My children attended public schools, as do many of my grandchildren. Why do I pick on public education? What is there to fear in this institution dedicated to preparing young citizens? In future discussions I will argue that schools, despite the terrific teachers, enthusiastic children, and productive experiences in most cases, have become a primary vehicle through which to challenge parental rights.
This argument is not intended as a call to homeschool. Rather, it is an invitation to awareness and active exercise of parental rights in a realm increasingly used to shape worldviews not just in literacy and numeracy, but economics, history, culture, religion, behavior, identity, and even family life. “Little” inroads, like feeding children – now up to three meals a day plus weekend snacks – and demanding more and more time devoted to school-related activities, such as homework, foster movement away from family relationships and toward State authority.
And little things change the world.
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 and bilingual education and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.