Over the past few days, there has been a lively discussion about the rights and responsibilities of parents.
This was occasioned by a letter I posted by a teacher, who said that parents don’t always know what is best for their children and that some parents are irresponsible.
After this post appeared on a homeschooling website, and perhaps others as well, I received many comments making outlandish accusations, in effect, saying that I thought parents were abusive, irresponsible, and incompetent.
For starters, I would like to point out that I frequently reprint letters by other people expressing their views. Their letters may or may not reflect my own views.
Since many writers asked me to state my views about parents, I will do so here.
I am a parent. I had three children, two of whom are now grown. One of my children died of leukemia many years ago. I now have three grandchildren.
As a parent and grandparent, I don’t believe that any government official or teacher cares more or knows more about my children than I do. Other parents, I am sure, feel the same.
Every important decision about children should be made first and above all by their parents.
Parents know best what their children need.
The government has an obligation to provide a free education in a public school to all children.
If parents choose to homeschool their children, they have a right to do so.
If parents choose to send their children to a private or religious school, they have a right to do so.
Government cannot take away their right to make those decisions.
The government does not have an obligation to pay for religious or private schooling for any child.
The only time that the government has an obligation to step in and negate parental rights is when children are abused and harmed by neglectful parents.
It is rare that it happens, but it does happen, and children’s health and safety must be protected.
To be sure, there are exceptions to the generalizations stated above:
A medical doctor knows more about the child’s health than his or her parents.
A teacher usually knows more about math or science or history or foreign languages than the child’s parents.
But make no mistake: Parents are their children’s most important educators.
Parents shape the attitudes, values and behavior of their children.
And parents–not the state– have the primary responsibility to raise up their children as good and decent people.