The homeschool community as a whole is hugely obsessed with “parents’ rights.” It’s primarily from the conservative Christian set, but there’s also a group within the Libertarian-leaning community that pretty strongly rejects the notion of children having inherent rights (over those of the parent) that should be legally outlined and protected. The HSLDA has a whole section devoted to parental rights. Any attempt to establish rights for the children are dismissed as “attacks from the left.” As you can imagine, the UNICEF Convention on the Rights of the Child is incredibly threatening to a group of people who believe that their children are, in fact, their property to do with as they will. That concept is at the center of the Pearls’ teachings — children are property, your property, and you can beat them into whatever shape that most pleases you.
Of course, it wasn’t that long ago that majority of people thought of women as property (many, as the above-mentioned Pearls, still do). It wasn’t that long ago in US history that black people were treated as property. Or Chinese people (who built the railroads? wasn’t well-treated, enfranchised workers being paid a living wage). Sharecropping was by and large another form of slavery, aimed at a socioeconomic group rather than a racial group (I come from some hardscrabble folk, myself). Humanity has a pretty ugly history of treating specific subsets of our number as property; part of our upward movement towards education and cultural enlightenment is, theoretically, that we stop doing that. With each group that seeks enfranchisement (or even the simplest and most basic of human rights), however, there is always a group that wants to keep that from happening. How sad that the group most invested in keeping children from having these basic human rights would be comprised almost entirely of parents.
“But s/he is MY child!” That’s the argument parents use for everything from cutting off healthy body parts, to custody/visitation, to “using the rod,” to indoctrinating children into harmful or hateful beliefs. Well, s/he may be your child, but s/he isn’t your property. If a person could ever be called property in good conscience, surely your child is the property of him/herself alone. You have the (very, considering a full lifespan) temporary care and keeping of your child’s body, but you do not own him. Incidentally, that a governing body would outline the rights of a child in law or policy doesn’t mean the government owns your child, either, any more than the Constitution means the government owns you (if anything, it shows how very clearly the government does not own you), so you can drop that particular argument. It just makes you look ignorant.
DaMomma’s Parents’ Bill of No-Rights
I don’t have the right to see my child.
I have the sacred obligation to be available to her for nurture, comfort, discipline and guidance regardless of whether it is convenient for me.
I don’t have the right to be included in all the decision-making regarding my child.
I have the obligation to make my child’s needs my first priority and to evalute her needs without regard to my own stake. I have the moral duty to be the advocate of her interests, even if they may conflict with my own.
I do not have the right to make my child’s medical choices.
I have the obligation to use my status as an adult to seek out all the professional care my child needs, and to provide it. I am duty-bound to educate myself on health conditions my child has, and to advocate for her until she is able to advocate for herself.
I do not have the guaranteed love of my child.
I voluntarily made an 18-year commitment to be responsible for another person. I am owed nothing in return. My child did not ask to be born, and is not responsible for the decision I made to bring her here.
I am not entitled to respect.
I am obligated to teach my child boundaries, rules and limits — so she can function in the world, so she is tolerable to others. I have a duty to teach her how to behave. I earn my child’s respect.
My child is not an object to which I may claim ownership.
She is a human being with thoughts and feelings. My childhood is over. My time of being the priority has passed. Whatever I did or did not get is something I must address for myself. It is separate from my child. She is entitled to her own time of nurture, protection and joy and I am obligated to provide it.
I am not entitled to a return on my investment.
I am obligated to work hard every day to provide for my child’s material needs (including some of her wants) regardless of whether she sees me, likes me, or behaves in a manner of which I approve.
Your kid isn’t a pair of shoes or a belt.
Your kid isn’t a car or a bicycle.
Your kid isn’t a dog, a car, or a parakeet.
Your kid isn’t a house or a plot of land.
Your kid isn’t a houseplant or a field of wheat.
Your kid is a person and you do not, cannot, own a person. His rights supersede your wants.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it.