Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Holding the Line

October 21, 2017

Thanks to Blake for sharing this timely and helpful article on the value of Christian sexual ethics as opposed to the sexual licentiousness our culture has adopted not only as inevitable but actually admirable.

If sex is the unspoken possibility any time two people of any gender are in contact with each other, the possibility for problems to arise is incredibly high.  Only in the movies and on TV is unrestrained sexual indulgence something wonderful and easy – free of the fear of STDs, unexpected pregnancy and emotional entanglement.  To sexualize every potential encounter and relationship in our lives is unhealthy not just to those who want to act on that possibility, but those who don’t want to, but have to be on guard all the same.

Being prudent, wise, aware – these are all good and admirable traits that have been highlighted and honored in cultures around the world and throughout history.  But now they are decried as restrictive and unnecessary and unwanted.  We should be free to indulge ourselves in any way we desire, to any extent we desire, without any worry about consequences of any kind.  Such a demand might be appropriate to a utopian society, but in case people haven’t looked outside the window recently (or into their own hearts), we don’t live in a utopian society.  Not by a long shot.

I wish my kids didn’t have to worry about predatory sexual behavior as they enter their teen years and adulthood.  And by predatory I don’t mean illegal, but rather the predatory assumption being drilled into both girls and boys that sex is wonderful and good and fine wherever and whenever and pretty much with whomever you like, so long as you both agree.  Whatever agree means.  It seems clear that agreement will only mean agreement if you still agree after the fact, which of course often is not the case for a variety of reasons.  It’s easy to read coercion or intimidation backwards into a situation once you’ve decided you’re not happy with the decisions you made.

So my kids are entering a world where sex will be assumed or expected with and from them as they begin dating.  My sons will face this as well as my daughter.  We’ve  taught them the inappropriateness and danger of this, provided rational explanations for why it isn’t a healthy way to live, both for themselves and those they meet.  We’ve tried to model and describe a Biblical sexual ethic that holds sexuality to be far more valuable than our society pretends to think it is.  But they’re still going to encounter those expectations.  As such, they’re going to have to conduct themselves in such a way as to enable them to live consistently with their morals and beliefs.  Part of this means being modest – both my sons and my daughter – and there’s no harm in that.  It only makes sense in a sinful world where things get misinterpreted all too easily.

People may want to laugh off Biblical sexual morality as antiquated and outdated, but compared to the massive harm inflicted on people in an open sexual culture, antiquated and outdated should start looking better than it has in a long time.

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Sears

October 10, 2017

I don’t like to shop for clothes.  I told my wife before we married that I would gladly help wash dishes or do the laundry or clean windows, but I would not go with her while she shopped for clothes.  I’m too cheap and impatient to even enjoy shopping for myself.  I can still remember taking my Mom with me many years ago on an annual shopping trip.  I think she was in shock from the speed of it all.  My distant memories of going shopping with her as a small child to the mall are of endless hours spent wondering if we were ever going to go home.  On that particular shopping trip with my Mom, I got all the clothes I needed for two years in less than two hours.

But even a cheapskate recognizes that shoes are a necessity and when they are all worn through the soles, it’s time to go shopping.  Since my FAVORITE shoe store of the past decade was gone the last time I stopped by the outlet malls, I had to resort to a new shoe store.  I went to Sears.

Let me just say that not only have the door handles to Sears not changed in at least 50 years, it smells exactly the same as I remember it decades ago.  The only slight difference being that this Sears doesn’t have a candy stand selling chocolate covered peanuts.  That’s definitely a change for the worse!

But it’s not the only change.

I volunteered to do some shopping for our youngest son, who had no interest in going to help pick out his own clothes.  I located the boys clothing area and started looking (in the discount racks, of course).  I was surprised as I shuffled through hangers full of shorts to find a girls skirt tucked in there.  I chalked it up to some hooligan’s work.  But I noticed other girls clothing items mixed into the rack.  All the racks.  Then I noticed the signs – indicating that these were boys and girls clothes.

I have enough trouble shopping as it is.  Now I have to differentiate which items are boys and which are girls?  Or is the assumption that boys and girls clothing is interchangeable?  I suspect that it’s the latter.  Rather than risk offending some customer upset that the skirts are in a segregated girls clothing section while the shorts and t-shirts are segregated in the boys clothing section, this Sears decided to just combine them.  Not completely, mind you.  There was still an area that seemed more girl-oriented and an area that seemed more boy-oriented.  But there were also places where the two were mixed together.

Sears isn’t as unchanged as it seems.  Maybe, like much of our culture and even we as individuals, it has and is changing a great deal, reluctantly or eagerly, to accommodate new notions of gender identity and how to raise children.  I suspect that’s a more difficult and complicated and ultimately unfortunate change than getting rid of the chocolate covered peanuts.

If You Give a Moose a Muffin…

September 22, 2017

I couldn’t help but be reminded of this children’s book while after reading this blog post.  Apparently a news reporter interviewed a Nazi who was publicly assaulted, and the writer of the blog post was angry that they did so because it could make Nazism sympathetic and end up leading others to follow that ideology.  The alternative, the author insists, is that you never give a Nazi a platform.  Never allow their message to go out.

At first it makes sense.  I don’t like Nazism.  As a student of history I’m well acquainted with the evils perpetrated by that ideology.  I don’t want there to be more Nazis.

But the more I thought about it, I realized why this approach didn’t sit well with me.  It presumes that the hearers/viewers are helpless, passive, and incapable of understanding either the context of the interview or the ideology that the Nazi might espouse.  It presumes that viewers/hearers need to be protected less they fall under the sway of this virulent ideology.  It reminds of the way some conservative Christians choose to raise their children – by trying to shelter them from the junk in the world and never expose them to anything that hasn’t been thoroughly sanitized.

In both cases the result is the same.  By failing to prepare people for the ideologies they will encounter in our increasingly hyper-connected world, we make possible our worst fears.  The way to protect people against whatever charm Nazi ideology might utilize is to teach them about Nazism.  Teach them about history.  Teach them about the Holocaust.  At the same time teach them about democracy, and in particular teach them about the beauty and value of free speech.  Then, if they view or hear a Nazi who was the victim of a crime talking about their ideology, they will be able to distinguish the value of free speech and protection from assault from Nazism.  They’ll be able to say I disagree completely with what this person espouses, but at the same time they deserve protection under the law and the right to speak, because that is the democracy we live under.

Which is different from the censorship that the Nazis used to control what people thought, and which mirrors, ironically enough, what the blog author espouses.  In a democracy people should be educated so that they can make good decisions.  Not everyone can or will.  But it is better to risk that some should not make good decisions, than to deny everyone the freedom to make a decision.  An educated nation will be able to reject ideas and principles that are incorrect.  Maybe not immediately, but eventually.  Hopefully.  But that requires education.  It also happens to require a strong moral common ground, something that has been decimated by many folks who also argue that some groups shouldn’t be allowed to speak freely or aren’t entitled to the same rights that they themselves are.

Reject Nazism.  But don’t destroy democracy in the process.  Nobody is better off with an insulated, poorly educated population who relies on censorship to keep away things that they would prefer not to deal with.  Nobody is better off under such circumstances.  Other than those who happen to be championing them and insisting that their ideology is the one that should be implemented.

Vocationally Challenged

September 6, 2017

Talking with your kids and grandkids about what they want to be when they grow up is a cherished, necessary and important task of family.  These days, however, make sure that you’re providing them with some good perspective on what vocations are going to be challenging for them in the future.   The cultural landscape is shifting rapidly, and if you hope that your family member will remain firmly rooted in Christ, yet still be able to avail themselves of the career options that were once so open in our country, I have bad news for you.  At the very least, it’s sobering news that needs practical application.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein today criticized a nominee for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals because of her Catholic faith, something which Senator Feinstein basically stated was a stumbling block for conflicting with the ideologies of others.

Senator Feinstein criticized and questioned Amy Coney Barrett because of religious writings and lectures she produced as a Law Professor at Notre Dame.  Feinstein specifically questioned and challenged Barrett’s actual adherence to and defense of Roman Catholic theology that Feinstein correctly assesses to be at direct odds with the prevailing spirit of the day.

“When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.” (And let’s ignore that large numbers of people have fought against some of these big issues.)

In other words, any dogma that challenges the status quo dogma is dangerous.  And to protect against any such outside dogmas, we’re going to pretend that dogma is not permissible to a judge.  Unless of course the dogma is in complete agreement with the spirit of the day.  So if you are against abortion on theological grounds, you shouldn’t be a judge because judges are supposed to support abortion because it’s been legal for almost 50 years.  Since we can’t legally – yet – prevent someone who disagrees with abortion from being a judge, we’re going to pretend that anyone with a strongly held belief is ipso ex facto inacceptable as a nominee.  Unless, of course, they happen to agree with abortion, in which case we’re totally fine with that because it’s not really a dogma.

So if your little darling wants to go into law, and hopes to one day be a judge, and may aspire to be an important judge, they may have to decide whether they would rather be an important judge or an actual follower of Jesus Christ.  Because if they’re going to practice what is preached to them, they might not be allowed to progress up the vocational ladder of judge-ness.

Isolated and unique situation, you say?

  • What about pharmacists?
  • What about if you believe that sexuality and gender confusion can be clarified and resolved through therapy?
  • What if you want to be a teacher?
  • How about a doctor?  Are you going to prescribe your patient enough medication so they can kill themselves if they choose to?  Doctor-“assisted”-suicide is legal in several states today.

The reality is that in more and more fields, being a committed Christian is being defined as a career liability.  And parents and grandparents and other key people need to be aware of this to help young people make sense of the rapidly shifting career landscape.  Especially before you take out $100,000 of student loan debt to achieve your goal, only to find you aren’t employable.

 

 

 

 

Quiet Victories

August 21, 2017

My oldest son started school this morning.

Facebook is littered with smiling kids preparing to depart for their first day of school with placards indicating the year and the grade.  They’re cute and I’m happy for them, of course.  Then again, going into the next grade is sort of expected.  It was never a big deal when I was a kid.  It was what was expected.  It was my job, if you will.  To study and apply myself and do what was necessary and expected to complete one grade level and move on to the next.  We didn’t have commencement ceremonies for kindergarten or elementary school or junior high.  You didn’t get that until you were really finished, which was graduating high school.  At that point you had accomplished what was expected.  Everything leading up to that was nice and all, but not exactly worth celebrating.

That’s what my son is doing.  It’s what all three of my kids are doing, to be sure.  And I’m fiercely proud of each of them.  But it’s usually a quiet pride.  However I have to say something about my oldest boy today.  He’s continuing school, but it’s the first time he’s left home for school in eight years.  He attended a charter school for kindergarten and first grade before we were ready to begin home schooling.  For the last eight years he’s studied at home, and with that goes all the uncertainty and hope and doubt and angst as parents that is perpetual companion to the decision to do things differently.  Are we preparing him adequately?  Are we doing right by him?  What are our goals?  Who is he going to turn out to be and how do we both help form and shape that person as well as enable and equip that person as they grow?

So today he leaves home for school.  At 15 he’s entering the formal classroom again.  But it’s not a sophomore or high school classroom.  Instead, he’s entering a dual-enrollment program at the local community college.  He’s sitting in a college classroom with a college professor and peers that are, with the exception of his good friend who is 16 and taking the course with him, much older.

I don’t know how he’ll perform.  I don’t know whether it will be easy for him or not.  I don’t know what grade he’ll get, or even if he’ll finish the course.  At the moment, none of those things matter.  I have high hopes, to be sure, and the utmost confidence in both him and our ability to help him be successful.  But for the moment, I’m simply proud of who he is as I walk out the door to work.  Smiling.  Confident.  Excited.  Eager.  Willing.

To me, that’s one kind of accomplishment I can already credit my wife with in home schooling our children.  They have a sense of confidence and capability.  They assume that if they put their minds to something, they’ll be able to accomplish it somehow.   That’s a great place to start.

There will be disappointments and failures undoubtedly.  Hopefully small and manageable.  But to at least begin with the belief that you can make things work, that’s a beautiful thing to see.  And I have to believe it will make the disappointments easier to deal with when they come.  It will make getting up and starting again or starting over easier.

But for the moment, I’m so happy and proud of him and the glow that surrounds him as he prepares to head out into the world.  I thank God for all He has given me in my wife and family and the hope I have for this world and myself because of them.

Go get ’em, boy.  You can do it.

Another Google Response

August 9, 2017

In the continuing saga of Google controversy over gender – or more specifically, over hiring and promotion practices aimed at promoting diversity – here is the latest salvo.

It tugs on the heart strings in all the right ways, but it fundamentally misses the point of the original memo.  The original memo was not questioning whether some women were just as capable as men in terms of performance in technology related fields as well as in ascending into the upper echelons of management.  The memo did indicate that overall, men and women seek out these sorts of jobs at different rates, and therefore that trying to force diversity and equal percentages of each gender might be fundamentally flawed.

While many people seem to read it as an attack on women, I didn’t see or hear that at all.  Nor did lots of other people undoubtedly smarter than I am.  However it was a stinging criticism of implicit bias’ towards certain ideological assumptions  and the corresponding discrimination against differing points of view which results in people being afraid to speak if they don’t hold with the dominant ideology.  It was a request for more study and data, and not simply a treatise about how women should stay home and not become programmers or CEOs.

But that’s how many people – including this woman – seem to have interpreted it.

I’ve known oodles of women who are way smarter than I am in math and science.  But that’s not what the original memo was trying to address, and it was not the question that this woman’s daughter asked her.  I don’t know how old her daughter is, but her question is a complex one that, when she’s old enough to understand the complexity, deserves a complex answer.

There are always prejudices and stereotypes that can be dangerous and damaging.  That doesn’t mean all stereotypes are, nor does it mean that some stereotypes may not have actual data behind them.  And it’s very unfortunate that this woman has had her abilities and commitment questioned simply because she’s a woman.  It’s unfortunate if she’s been excluded from industry events because of her gender (though, at the risk of beating a dead horse, y’all remember it’s now socially acceptable to discriminate against guys, right?).  Given her status, it’s obvious that she surmounted these challenges, or is continuing to surmount them.  That’s fantastic and a wonderful model to her daughter and other young women.  And young men, I hope.

I didn’t hear the original e-mail trying to discourage women from pursuing computer programming or upper management positions in technology companies. What it was doing was questioning attempts to force companies to have an even distribution of genders when there was credible research and evidence to show that such a goal might not actually be reasonable or sustainable.  What is the “negative stereotype” that Susan Wojicicki accuses James Damore of perpetuating, and who wins when both claim to have data and statistics to back up their perspectives?

In this case, Google and those who agree with Ms. Wojicicki win.  Which is the very environment Mr. Damore was attempting to describe.

I have a daughter as well.  My hopes for her are not specific to the tech industry or science.  Or music or art or literature.  I want her to figure out what makes her happy, what she enjoys doing and is good at.  I want her imagination to fire in directions of her own choosing (by and large).  My hopes and aspirations for her are that she will be happy and fulfilled in whatever vocation she chooses to pursue.  That she won’t be held back from a chosen career path because of the sexism of men around her if she chooses to  enter the workplace, and that she won’t be the object of sexist scorn by feminists is she chooses to commit her life to raising a family and running a household.

Perhaps if we focused a lot more on helping our kids figure out what they’d like to do and how to do it, we’d all be happier, instead of trying to use our children to vindicate our own experiences as adults.   This may require specialized programs and training in companies to ensure that people have equal opportunities.  But that’s a far cry from demanding absolute numerical parity between men and women across all levels and positions.  Maybe we need to quit quantifying equality in that way, and spend more time making sure that if a woman (or a man) wants to enter a particular vocation, they have the ability to do so and be successful at it.

How would I answer my daughter if she asked me the question Ms. Wojicicki’s daughter posed her?  I’d begin by asking her why she wanted to know.  Is she afraid?  Is she worried maybe she shouldn’t consider a future in technology because she’s not as good at it as a boy?  I’d encourage her to explore that for herself.  Not to worry about broad brush-stroke studies of men and women, but simply to see what she likes to do and what she’s good at.  If she’s good at and interested in science and technology or management, then I will encourage her to pursue those things, and find ways to put her skills to good work.  I’ll be honest that there may be people who try to stop her for any number of reasons.  Those will be her battles to fight – I can’t fight them for her. But I can prepare her to face them bravely and competently.

What I don’t want to do is tell her to pursue something in order to make a point, or just because Mom or I have done it (or haven’t done it).  And if necessary, I’ll acknowledge honestly that perhaps her question doesn’t have a simple answer and that it’s misleading to pretend that it does.  That we need to talk about a whole lot of things beyond whether she’s good at math or not.  It’s OK for the situation to be complex.  Maybe if we continued to honestly acknowledge this with one another as adults, we’d move further along in figuring out how to make workplaces safer and opportune places for both men and women.

The Idol of Busy-ness

August 2, 2017

I live in an affluent city on the West Coast.  We home school our children, which puts my wife (mostly) into contact with other families who have made a similar educational choice.  And the reality is that part of the ability to make such a choice depends on a certain level of financial freedom and certain types of financial choices.  Home schooling requires that one of the parents not work (or at least not work full-time), and the only way to do this is a never-ending series of financial choices about what is important.

We’ve met a variety of wonderful people and families in this home-schooling journey.  But the one refrain we’ve heard over and over again, the modern mantra, is the lament of busy-ness.  I’m so tired – we’ve just been running around all over the place!  Taking X to this class and Y to this camp and then music lessons and play dates and camping trips and movies and and and and and

The list never concludes.

A lot of people in this town have money.  Not everyone, but quite a few.  So conspicuous consumption is less about the material, tangible things – those are passé – and more about time.  The status symbol of the day has less to do with the car you drive or the house you live in because everything here is expensive.  So the packed schedule becomes what everyone talks about and strives for.  Multiple classes, camps, lessons, outings.  It’s the current understanding that this is the price we pay for our children’s success.  If we want them to get into Harvard (and everyone is getting into an Ivy League school, right?) then we have to start filling out their future application now, at a younger and younger age.

Everyone is exhausted, so it’s funny that we’re repeatedly asked what camps and outings we’re enrolling our children in this summer.  The pressure is that everyone should be this busy.  Don’t you want to be this busy?  Don’t you want to have to keep your smartphone or Day Planner with you at all times to make sure you’re on top of things?  Don’t you want to join the club and lament about how busy you are, and the financial success that apparently makes such a schedule possible?

Actually, no.

Partly because we can’t afford it.  We live on one income, and while generous, it isn’t enough to fund all the myriad activities that are offered for the comfortable or well-heeled in the area.  We aren’t willing to put ourselves in debt in order to fill our children’s schedule with things to do.  But even if we could afford it, we believe that children shouldn’t have that kind of schedule to begin with.  Not during summer break.  Not during the school year.  They have their activities that we’ve committed ourselves to but those are very limited by both necessity and choice.  We’d rather spend our time making dinner together and playing games together than coming up with another activity to pack the kids off to for an hour a day four times a week.

Our culture is rife with status symbols – fame, fortune, health, eating lifestyles.  Plenty of opportunities to judge and be judged, to conform or to be ruled irrelevant or uneducated or uncultured.  I suspect this is the same for every culture at every time.  There has never been a shortage of edicts or peer pressure trying to get people to bow to the preferred idol of the day.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3) faced coercion to literally bow down.  But earlier in Daniel 1, Daniel and his companions felt compelled to resist a more subtle form of persuasion and coercion, one that promised great rewards for compliance.  What was offered was the best of the best – food and drink from the king’s own table!  But Daniel and his companions realized that in partaking in this food, they would be trading part of who they were – as Hebrews, as children of God even – and decided that the trade wasn’t worth it.  Their steadfastness was rewarded, but oftentimes the rewards of steadfastness aren’t immediately discernible.

We worry like any parent does about the decisions we make for our children.  Are we preparing them well enough for the world they will need to participate in as well as resist?  Are we doing enough to help mold them spiritually and intellectually as well as making sure their bodies are strong and healthy?  The worry is always there – maybe we should be doing more, or doing different.  Everyone else is – how is it that we trust our own judgment over the majority?  Isn’t that foolhardy?  Reckless?

Perhaps.

We don’t think it’s reckless, though.  And we think that what we are doing in and for our and with our children’s lives is already bearing fruit in who they are as people, how they relate to one another and to us and to everyone they come into contact with.  If we refuse to bow to the idol of the overburdened schedule, or the idol of Ivy League education, we substitute it with an emphasis on time together as a family and knowing who we are together and individually in Christ.   It may not get our kids into Harvard, but we pray it will help ground them for the increasingly fragmented and fractured culture and society they’re entering into very soon.

 

Too Much, Too Soon

August 2, 2017

First off, this is a tragic situation – every parents’ nightmare.  A middle-school girl committed suicide because of bullying – digital and otherwise – from some kids at her school.  The parents now intend to sue the school district for failing to put a stop to the bullying.  They are also considering suing the parents of the specific bullying students.

I have written in the past about the dangers of providing children with unfettered access to the Internet and social media.  I disagree strongly with parents who circumvent age-restrictions for their kids to access social media platforms.  While details of the particular social media platforms involved in this particular bullying case are not provided, most major social media platforms (Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook – even though kids really aren’t using Facebook these days) require users to be at least 13 years old.

Kids are kids, and are always going to be pressured to conform to peer expectations.  Sometimes that pressure is going to be abusive and intense.  Other times it will be subtle and insidious.  Handing a child a smartphone with access to the Internet and social media without providing training, support, monitoring, and limitations is just plain unhealthy.  Yes, your child might be mature enough to handle it.  But I’d argue the vast majority are not.  Believe it or not, your child (or grand-child, or great-grandchild, or niece or nephew or whatever) will survive not having 24/7 access to social media.  If they are laughed at or in disparaged for this by their peers, it’s stronger proof that they shouldn’t have it.

The Internet and social media are addicting.  Adults deal with this already, and children are even more impressionable as they seek to understand and discover who they are.  Our kids – and particularly our daughter – frequently talk about how different her friends become once they have a smart phone of their own.  How they talk more about pop culture, about being pretty, and just about how they are constantly checking their phone for updates and likes and other indicators of popularity.

This pressure was brutal enough in decades past, but today’s technology permits it to occur 24/7.  No break.  No escape.  Kids need their parents to be parents – to set limits, provide guidelines, to dialogue and to model healthy digital habits and behaviors.  There’s a lot at stake.

Back in the Saddle

May 23, 2017

For the past month I’ve led my family on an international exploration.  Over 30 days we were in ten different countries working with five different languages (six if you include Swiss German) traveling by plane, train, automobile, bus, boat and on foot.  We visited 20 different people and while I haven’t calculated the total distance we covered yet, I’m estimating that including the flights to and from the US West Coast, we’re a bit over 15,000 miles.  We saved four years to make this a reality, planned and executed every step of it on our own, and had an amazing experience that will stay with us the rest of our lives.  It was exhilarating and exhausting, every bit as fantastic as we imagined and better than we could have hoped.  We are grateful to God, friends, family, and all those who prayed for us and helped to make it a reality.

But now we’re home so I’ll start writing again.  Talk more with you soon!

Loose Lips

December 13, 2016

Thank you to Becky for alerting me to a new piece of state legislation introduced a few days ago here in California.

Back in 2009, a resolution was passed by the California State Legislature expressing support for a Bill of Rights for the Children and Youth of California.  It seemed a fairly innocuous, vague resolution without any real teeth or meat to it.  It was endorsed by Planned Parenthood, among others.  Many such expressions of support are undoubtedly passed in our country every year, most of which coming to very little of substance.  The terms aren’t defined, and no specific actions or funding are allocated.  It’s essentially a warm-fuzzy sort of document.

But warm-fuzzy documents can give rise to more tangible realities later on.

So it is that this week Senator Richard Pan (D) introduced  Senate Bill 18.  Senator Pan represents Senate District 6 which encompasses the greater Sacramento area.  He is a pediatrician as well as a Senator.   SB18 aims to “expand and codify” the Bill of Rights for the Children and Youth of California, turning it from a warm and fuzzy idea into some form of law.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for improving the lot of children everywhere.  But when the government decides that it’s going to assure that this happens, I begin to ask questions.

The Bill proposes the establishment of a “comprehensive framework that governs the rights of all children and youth in California”.  I would argue that this already exists – it’s called the family.  The family is a comprehensive framework that protects the rights of the children within that family.  Certainly there are situations where the family fails in this duty, and it is necessary for an outside entity to get involved to assure the protection of children.  But to assume that the State needs to create a “comprehensive framework” of its own that extends beyond the many agencies and programs to assist children and families strikes me as a bit odd.

More specifically, the Bill prescribes that within five years – by the end of 2021 – this Bill of Rights is enforced “evenly, equitably, and appropriately to all children and youth across the state.”  Why do I need such a framework applied to my children?  My children have a solid family which is their framework.  Now I begin to worry.  How is my framework going to interact with the state framework?  Under what conditions and situations?  And if there is a conflict between the two frameworks, whose wins?  I’m going to make a wild guess here and say that if push comes to shove, the State is going to insist that their framework trumps mine.

The Bill’s premise is that all children are entitled to certain rights.  I would agree, and I would agree that our Declaration of Independence includes those in broad terms, just as it does for me:  life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  These are not intended as necessarily all-encompassing, but they go a long way towards a baseline we can all agree upon.  But this Bill intends to create a series of rights for children that is far more specific.

  1.  The right to parents, guardians, or caregivers who act in their best interest.  This sounds good, but who gets to decide what is in my child’s best interest?  I’m going to go out on a limb again and say that the State is going to reserve that right to itself.  What if I disagree?  Hmmmm.
  2. The right to form healthy attachments with adults responsible for their care and well-being.  What does this mean?  Who defines healthy attachment?  Who decides what adults they should be required to form such an attachment to?
  3. The right to live in a safe and healthy environment.  Sounds good, but again, who decides what constitutes safe and healthy?  Don’t we have building codes and other things that already determine this?  What does healthy mean, and how is it distinct from safe?  What does environment mean?  Is that physical?  Emotional?  What?
  4. The right to social and emotional well-being.  Who defines these things?  On what basis?
  5. The right to opportunities to attain optimal cognitive, physical and social development.  Again, who determines the best means for achieving these things?  It sounds as though there is only one way to reach these goals.  Is that true?  If the State decides that my kids will only reach optimal social development by going to school rather than us schooling them, what recourse do I have?  None, I’m going to guess.
  6. The right to appropriate, quality education and life skills leading to self-sufficiency in adulthood.  This seems like an even more pointed attack at my parental rights to determine how best to educate my children.  The current state-sponsored public education system seems to be producing many children who do not have a quality education, and are unable to cope with the outcome of a presidential election, and who can’t bear to hear anything that contradicts their ideas about the world, and who need safe spaces and other means of insulating them from opposing points of view.  Does this mean that the State is going to find public schools inappropriate?  Somehow, I doubt it.
  7. The right to appropriate, quality health care.  Again, who decides these definitions?  Given last year’s fear-based legislation mandating vaccines for as many children as possible in the state, what else is going to be determined to be appropriate and quality?

The Bill indicates that solutions will be “research-based”.  What level of concurrence in research will be necessary in order to use it as the basis for a specific solution to one of the areas above?  How will the State enforce this “comprehensive framework”, and what recourse will parents have – if any – in disagreement with this framework?  And as is typical, what recourse do parents have if the solutions imposed through this Bill turn out to actually be harmful, rather than helpful?  If you’re going to force me to do things to and with and for my children that I don’t want to do and don’t think are helpful to them at all, what recourse do I have if I turn out to be right?  If your research turns out to be faulty?  If special interests dictate questionable applications?

I don’t doubt that the intent of improving life for children is the actual intent here, but I dislike the idea that somebody outside of my family is going to make those decisions for me, particularly in the current ideological and intellectual climate.  How is the State going to make meaningful legislation that is broad enough to be applied to every family in the State?  I don’t think that’s possible, which means that the alternative is that some families are going to have their rights overridden by the State.

This seems like a really bad idea.  The State unfortunately may need to intervene in situations where children are at risk through neglect or abuse, and I am grateful for such services.  But to expand beyond this to create legislation that applies to all children and families is very overreaching.  I hope that this Bill does not pass!