parental rights v. slippery slopes
originally written in 2015
I'm a big advocate of freedom - during pregnancy, especially.
There's been a story circulating recently about a European pregnant mother whose baby was taken away by “the authorities” before it was born.
She suffered a nervous breakdown while on a business trip, and ended up forcibly sedated, only to awaken to the news that her baby had been taken via Cesarean section and placed into social services' protective custody.
The child is now fifteen months old, and has been officially put up for adoption, despite the mother complying with medical treatment and the judge “having formed a favourable opinion of [the mother].”
This kind of thing is not only chilling, but deeply worrisome to me.
Who's really in charge of our bodies, or our children?
Who decides whose "favorable opinion" matters, anyway?
At what point should lines be drawn?
Now, I understand the reasoning and rationale that brought about these official agencies that intervene in family matters. They were created, ostensibly, to save lives and minimize child suffering - but the grand majority of their interventions cause more harm than good.
Is this what we've come to as a society? Outsourcing community needs to the machinations of heartless rules and subjective opinions of self-appointed experts?
I hear people joke, sometimes, that there ought to be a test you have to pass in order to become a parent.
I think that's bullshit. I won't be smiling or nodding along blithely if you say that within earshot of me.
Even if that was possible to implement, who the hell would decide what was on a test like that?
How would we decide whose opinions were “most” valid?
And who would this deciding body of "we" be made up of?
There is NO objective model of correctness when it comes to raising a child.
For instance, some think spanking is a necessary part of good parenting… Well, try spanking your child in the Netherlands, and you'll risk criminal charges.
I profoundly disagree with spanking, but I think that raising awareness about children's rights and the lifelong negative psychological consequences of spanking makes a lot more sense than criminalizing the act.
There's a lot of things I'm passionately against - but I'm also against the government enforcing my preferences, however valid, righteous, or wonderful they may be.
When did we become so distrustful of individual autonomy....so skeptical of personal responsibility...that we think it’s better to just turn over anything complex or challenging to some certified, approved, official party to deal with?
There's no shortage of families out there who could likely benefit from education or help of some sort, but how did we get to the point where impersonal, institutionalized, officially-sanctioned intervention is the *only* option?
The trauma of a child losing a mother, at any age, is almost unparalleled in scope and depth (and yes I’m talking about the modern day womb-rental service that is surrogacy, too).
Yet we hear stories entirely too often about mothers and babies being forcibly separated “for their own good”, rather than helped to stay together safely.
It’s almost as if there’s a war on families happening under the guise of “protection”…
Some health care professionals have even called social services on parents for refusing - or even questioning - a recommended treatment for their child.
Twice in my life, I’ve been threatened by a medical provider that tried to insinuate I didn’t have my child’s best interests at heart, and it was both infuriating - and terrifying.
Are we really supposed to accept that a health care provider's expert opinion is infalliable, even when the provider has only examined the patient for a handful of minutes, and makes a generic recommendation based on a paragraph of text in a file?
(That’s often precisely what happens, given the realities of profit-driven “health care” in the US.)
Meanwhile - parents are often the ones who notice the subtle signs, connect the dots of seemingly unrelated information, and STILL have to move mountains to get their children proper care, because their careful research and diligent tracking of symptoms are mostly dismissed by the so-called experts.
I believe that mass oversight of something as dynamic, unique, and individual as the wellbeing of children and families means that conformity is valued way too much.
Many variations or deviations from what's considered "normal" are characterized as bad, wrong, or even abusive - simply because they fall outside of an arbitrarily-drawn bell curve, or aren't properly understood by those limited few making the judgment calls.
Doing things differently than the mass majority isn't abuse - but when we turn over the power and responsibility of defining and addressing abuse to huge, impersonal institutions, we reduce human variables into strings of numbers or data, and families suffer.
Full-term breastfeeding (i.e. weaning on the child's own timetable) might be uncommon in our country, but it's not abuse. Co-sleeping doesn't automatically equal child endangerment, either.
Disagreeing with a doctor isn't illegal.
(at least, not last time I checked)
It's unsurprising to me that *official*, factory-style management of families and relationships is causing problems just as much as solving them - because there’s simply too many variables at play.
In trying to prevent a small number of tragedies, we've created a paradigm where everyone's actions are scrutinized and measured against an unfeeling, impartial yardstick of judgment.
The kind of interventions that may ensue can be massively damaging, psychologically traumatizing, life-altering and devastating - and in my opinion, it's way too easy for this to happen to good families.
It's not wise to sacrifice the autonomy of parents, under the guise of trying to prevent actual abuse - because who’s going to prevent the system from being abusive?
The rights and freedoms of parents to raise their children in accordance with their own values is critical, paramount to our collective sovereignty, and must be preserved.
No one has their child’s best interests at heart more than a committed, conscious mother - and we need to stop pretending that’s not so.
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