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Subject: What To Do About Unfit Parents. Anything? rss

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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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Quote:
There's also risks that go along with parenting. Are you suggesting that we should somehow decide who can and can't be a parent based on what society defines as being a "good parent?" How is that any different?

You're approaching this as though you can somehow separate the right to control what happens with one's body from the responsibilities that go with them. You can't. Not for parenting. Not for donating a kidney. Not for abortion.


This quote from Ken got me thinking about parenting restrictions and society. I'm not suggesting that where I'm going is at all in the same context, but I thought I should give credit back to the person who got me thinking about this new topic.

Why don't we consider restricting parents to the set of people who have demonstrated that they would be good parents? Sure, it's a very slippery slope, I'll give you that. However, one of the great things about the Internet is we can plunge forward down that slope with no fear of consequences to us or anyone else. Let's explore this further.

It seems outrageous, right? Restricting the right of a person to have a family (not necessarily reproduce, let's say giving a child up for adoption is acceptable to keep it simple).

Is it outrageous that we have to be licensed/cleared to drive a vehicle or purchase a gun? To practice law? To practice medicine?

Why not then to practice parenthood? In my opinion it's just as dangerous for some people to have a family as it is for others to drive a car.

OK, so let's say I convince you that it's reasonable to consider this... what are the consequences for not complying? That's the tough part of the issue for me.

Also, where does the bar start? I'm thinking some sort of a basic parenting test and a background check to get certified. The test would have to be on black and white issues where there is very clearly a right and a wrong, like is it ok to leave your children in the care for extended periods of time in the oppressive heat?

Maybe the answers would be too obvious, but at least it might get people to thinking about it in advance so when they're confronted with the situation they pause to consider what they're doing.

Maybe it's not even for clearance to have a family. Maybe this test is mandatory for anyone who is having children and failure has no real consequences, just for the sake of education. Dunno.

Here's what I do know. There are a lot of REALLY terrible parents out there. In many cases, it's literally a life and death situation for these children. They grow up to perpetuate the cycle to boot.

Why is it an inalienable right to have a family even if you're totally unfit and everyone agrees on that?
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True Blue Jon
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I think it's much better to just assume everyone has the potential to be a good parent and punish those who turn out to be bad ones.
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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quozl wrote:
I think it's much better to just assume everyone has the potential to be a good parent and punish those who turn out to be bad ones.


You might be able to sell me on that, but we don't do that either, as a society. How would you propose doing that?

Edit: Well, I guess we do to some extent, but it's usually a case of too little, too late.
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Chad Ellis
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I think there are some things society gets to make the call on and some things it doesn't.

Whether or not someone is allowed to reproduce isn't one of them. Not only would it be the height of tyranny, it would be an invitation to disaster. We've been evolving to reproduce far too long.
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
I think there are some things society gets to make the call on and some things it doesn't.

Whether or not someone is allowed to reproduce isn't one of them. Not only would it be the height of tyranny, it would be an invitation to disaster. We've been evolving to reproduce far too long.


And yet I think we all agree that we're not animals. Society and being "civilized" is all about denying our baser instincts for the greater good. It's about creating structure where none exists in nature.
 
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ejmowrer wrote:
quozl wrote:
I think it's much better to just assume everyone has the potential to be a good parent and punish those who turn out to be bad ones.


You might be able to sell me on that, but we don't do that either, as a society. How would you propose doing that?

Edit: Well, I guess we do to some extent, but it's usually a case of too little, too late.


We certainly punish people for being bad parents. Maybe we don't catch all the cases and could do a better job at it. Sure, I can agree with that.

I've had this conversation with a friend before, and she believes that people should almost certainly be forced to take tests before they're allowed to have a baby.

I think this is crazy myself. Limiting the ability for people to have a family just seems far too oppressive to me. The enforcement of such a law would be far to difficult too and lead to even worse living conditions for children of parents "who failed the test."

Not to mention, such a standardized test would in theory require some sort of standardized education. Which I can see being useful without attaching an incredibly oppressive law to it.

Nevermind, that negligent accidents don't necessarily happen because the parent in question doesn't know how to take care of a child (for example, not giving them access to poisons), it just that they don't care. It's incredibly easy for a person to mark in the exam "child proof doors leading to detergents and other caustic chemicals", its much more difficult to enforce that the parent actually do so.

There is no way you can test for a person's ability to actually care about caring for and protecting their children.
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Ken
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ejmowrer wrote:
Why don't we consider restricting parents to the set of people who have demonstrated that they would be good parents?


Because there is no definition of who would be a "good parent" that you could possibly apply generally and equitably. Further, some people who would not appear to be "good parents" before they have children turn out to be fantastic parents because the addition of the child causes them to change their behavior.

Worse, once you define what a "good parent" is, shouldn't we continuously certify that every parent out there is still a "good parent?" That implies a re-certification process because it'd be wrong to leave kids in a home that didn't have good parents. Think of the fun that that would create.

Quote:
Why is it an inalienable right to have a family even if you're totally unfit and everyone agrees on that?


Because you've a right to control your own body and exercise controls you deem appropriate over your children unless that rises to the degree of abuse or neglect. And since there's no way to define "good parenting" universally, the state can't demonstrate any compelling interest to interfere with the process before it rises to that level.

For example - there are people who participate in this forum who qualify raising your child as a member of an organized religion as abusive. Does their view get included in "good parenting?" Others would suggest that not raising your child in a religion (even a specific religion or denomination) is abusive. Does theirs? Some would say all corporal punishment is always wrong, some would say it's appropriate under certain circumstances. Which goes into the test?

It's none of the state's business until it rises to a level of abuse. And even then, they need to prove that in a court.
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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serdudds wrote:
ejmowrer wrote:
quozl wrote:
I think it's much better to just assume everyone has the potential to be a good parent and punish those who turn out to be bad ones.


You might be able to sell me on that, but we don't do that either, as a society. How would you propose doing that?

Edit: Well, I guess we do to some extent, but it's usually a case of too little, too late.


We certainly punish people for being bad parents. Maybe we don't catch all the cases and could do a better job at it. Sure, I can agree with that.

I've had this conversation with a friend before, and she believes that people should almost certainly be forced to take tests before they're allowed to have a baby.

I think this is crazy myself. Limiting the ability for people to have a family just seems far too oppressive to me. The enforcement of such a law would be far to difficult too and lead to even worse living conditions for children of parents "who failed the test."

Not to mention, such a standardized test would in theory require some sort of standardized education. Which I can see being useful without attaching an incredibly oppressive law to it.

Nevermind, that negligent accidents don't necessarily happen because the parent in question doesn't know how to take care of a child (for example, not giving them access to poisons), it just that they don't care. It's incredibly easy for a person to mark in the exam "child proof doors leading to detergents and other caustic chemicals", its much more difficult to enforce that the parent actually do so.

There is no way you can test for a person's ability to actually care about caring for and protecting their children.


Let's say you could, for the sake of exploring this further. You can stick an upside down colander on their head with some wires and tin foil sticking out and know right then and there if they are fit to be a parent. Why is the gut reaction of everyone that this is terrible oppressive, and yet we let the government control other areas of our lives MUCH more strictly that are far less important and don't even give it a second thought?
 
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ejmowrer wrote:


Let's say you could, for the sake of exploring this further. You can stick an upside down colander on their head with some wires and tin foil sticking out and know right then and there if they are fit to be a parent. Why is the gut reaction of everyone that this is terrible oppressive, and yet we let the government control other areas of our lives MUCH more strictly that are far less important and don't even give it a second thought?


Tried and True:



NOT FIT!



FIT!



Maybe?
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Ken
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ejmowrer wrote:
Let's say you could, for the sake of exploring this further. You can stick an upside down colander on their head with some wires and tin foil sticking out and know right then and there if they are fit to be a parent. Why is the gut reaction of everyone that this is terrible oppressive, and yet we let the government control other areas of our lives MUCH more strictly that are far less important and don't even give it a second thought?


From a strictly constitutional perspective, this probably violates your right to avoid incriminating yourself, your right to due process, and the implied right to privacy the courts have found to exist.

Shift it from parenting to something else. Pretend your funny hat would allow the state to determine whether or not you'd committed any crimes that had thus far gone undetected - whether that's shoplifting, fighting, speeding, etc. It can do so with 100% accuracy. Does the state have the right to require you to submit to such a test every week so that no crime ever goes undetected or unpunished?
 
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Chad Ellis
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ejmowrer wrote:
Society and being "civilized" is all about denying our baser instincts for the greater good.


Only to a point. And telling someone they can't reproduce goes way beyond that point.
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Chad Ellis
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ejmowrer wrote:
Why is the gut reaction of everyone that this is terrible oppressive, and yet we let the government control other areas of our lives MUCH more strictly that are far less important and don't even give it a second thought?


Because they're far less important?

I don't think I have a fundamental right or need to drive a car. I have no problem with society saying, "OK, you want to drive a car? You have to have acceptable vision, pass a test, do the necessary paperwork and have liability insurance."
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
ejmowrer wrote:
Why is the gut reaction of everyone that this is terrible oppressive, and yet we let the government control other areas of our lives MUCH more strictly that are far less important and don't even give it a second thought?


Because they're far less important?

I don't think I have a fundamental right or need to drive a car. I have no problem with society saying, "OK, you want to drive a car? You have to have acceptable vision, pass a test, do the necessary paperwork and have liability insurance."


So you wouldn't have a problem with the government requiring a license to go barefoot, because that is less important than the risks associated with driving and you're ok with the driving licensing process. Maybe to shoot a slingshot. Or buy potentially deadly chemicals such as draino or bleach.

The fact that it's less important should make you more outraged, not less, IMO.
 
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Jorge Montero
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The only people that should be able to breed are those that have an IQ higher than their weight in pounds. That will make the average height lower, making basketball a whole lot more entertaining, fix the obesity problem and turn our attractiveness standards upside down.

We could instead have a knowledge test, requiring us to be able to quote passages from a book by Beck, the Twilight Series, Lord of the Flies, Critique of Pure Reason and Mein Kampf: Anyone that passes the test will prove that he can tolerate anything, making him semi-ready to have his kids go into the room at 2 am in the morning, claiming that they don't want to sleep anymore, and that they want you to make them some croquettes.

Either of those options is as sane and equitable as anything that any organization could come up with.

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Jorge Montero
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ejmowrer wrote:

So you wouldn't have a problem with the government requiring a license to go barefoot, because that is less important than the risks associated with driving and you're ok with the driving licensing process. Maybe to shoot a slingshot. Or buy potentially deadly chemicals such as draino or bleach.

The fact that it's less important should make you more outraged, not less, IMO.


A different answer is that there must be a very good reason for imposing said restrictions, and that the restrictions must be enforceable.

Restricting barefoot walking fails at number one, a license for parenting goes for number two: Any attempt by a democratic nation to limit parenting in a way that hits even two percent of the population that isn't in jail would lead to a change in government.

You might as well pass a law that claims that anyone that sneezes could be shot on the spot.
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hibikir wrote:
croquettes.




Best part of this. I would love to see a kid ask for croquettes at 2 in the morning...it woule make me smile so much that I would probably get up and make them.
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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hibikir wrote:
ejmowrer wrote:

So you wouldn't have a problem with the government requiring a license to go barefoot, because that is less important than the risks associated with driving and you're ok with the driving licensing process. Maybe to shoot a slingshot. Or buy potentially deadly chemicals such as draino or bleach.

The fact that it's less important should make you more outraged, not less, IMO.


A different answer is that there must be a very good reason for imposing said restrictions, and that the restrictions must be enforceable.

Restricting barefoot walking fails at number one, a license for parenting goes for number two: Any attempt by a democratic nation to limit parenting in a way that hits even two percent of the population that isn't in jail would lead to a change in government.

You might as well pass a law that claims that anyone that sneezes could be shot on the spot.


Only if they try to hold it in. I hate that.
 
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ejmowrer wrote:
So you wouldn't have a problem with the government requiring a license to go barefoot, because that is less important than the risks associated with driving and you're ok with the driving licensing process. Maybe to shoot a slingshot. Or buy potentially deadly chemicals such as draino or bleach.

The fact that it's less important should make you more outraged, not less, IMO.


I think you're oversimplifying. In each case there is a question of balance between the need of society and the liberty of the individual. If I drive a car irresponsibly I can kill people, so there is a compelling need for licenses. Walking barefoot, not so much.
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You only think he's oversimplifying? Wow, this forum is so trepidatious sometimes.
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"We hold these truths to be self evident...." If you want to deny a person's right to be a parent on the basis of actionable offenses, then you put them in jail for their crimes and prevent them from engaging in sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex. That's it. That's what you get in this country, and that's how it will always fucking be, because if it ever turns out that some group of nitwits want to make it otherwise, there will be an uprising the likes of which you have never seen in this country, where every single right-minded individual left in attendance will march around with whatever implements they can brandish, and stomp the life out of anybody stupid enough to attempt to enforce alternate parenting plan b.

At least, that's what I think will happen.

Edit: The above tirade does not account for chemical castration, forced sterilization of mental patients, or all the other shit that goes on around the USA on a daily basis that gets almost no play in RSP.
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
ejmowrer wrote:
So you wouldn't have a problem with the government requiring a license to go barefoot, because that is less important than the risks associated with driving and you're ok with the driving licensing process. Maybe to shoot a slingshot. Or buy potentially deadly chemicals such as draino or bleach.

The fact that it's less important should make you more outraged, not less, IMO.


I think you're oversimplifying. In each case there is a question of balance between the need of society and the liberty of the individual. If I drive a car irresponsibly I can kill people, so there is a compelling need for licenses. Walking barefoot, not so much.


OK, so you focused in on the most contrived of my several examples. Bad parents can kill people and ruin lives. Deaths due to neglect are typically higher than accidental gun deaths, for instance, based on my awesome googling skills. Gotta have a background check and all kinds of other legislative restrictions before you can buy a gun in some places, including trigger locks.

Growing up is inherently dangerous for your children. You gotta be responsible or your kid might die or get badly injured. Luckily, most people are up to the challenge. What are we doing to screen those who are not? Nothing until the kid dies or some other terrible thing happens to them.
 
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It is one of *those* things.
If you can produce a truly objective dispassionate arbiter of "good parenting" I will be happy to hand over the issuance of parenting licenses to such a paragon. On the other hand if you are able to produce objective dispassionate arbiter of anything I will gladly sign up to have them be a dictator for life and dispense with this whole liberal democracy nonsense in the first place.

Problem with laws that people often forget is that they are drafted and implemented by people and people are biased and fallible. How long before someone would decide that having Christian faith should disqualify someone from parenting (Dawkins, a respectable scientist all but says this) or that not having said faith should do likewise ? What about being poor (after all, being born to poverty is one of the greatest negative prospect indicators for children) ? Or being of an ethnic group that statistically does less well for themselves ?

I am not keen on lots of government regulation in a first place but more nebulous and subject to interpretation it is, and more profoundly it touches the individual lives the worse it is and regulating parenting hits the red-zone on both those counts.
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Risk and reward
A broader canvas gets us some answers.

We mandate that children are educated.
And we are quite prepared to do this even though it entails some risks because we see the pay-offs as well worth the down-sides.

What becomes possible in basic education if we increase the acceptable risk level?

Off-shore sail training and boat building? With a final trip to Hawaii and back in a self-built catamaran for each group? Nation-wide conscription into jungle/desert/third world survival courses for 16 year olds? Motorcycle training for all medically able 17 year olds?
Twelve month "Peace Corp" type placements?

This sort of education would act to reduce ineffective parents through many vectors.

Social programs would need to be in place to ensure the fittness of the children to participate.

Small group skills would be improved. Life skills would be improved - or found sadly and fatally lacking.

The inclusion of life-time tax breaks and elegibility for government jobs by those who complete the course would get the children of the rich on board - this would allow some of the programs to be conducted with heterogeneous groups that would approximate the make-up of society - the rich would then become very personally motivated to ensure that public education is working well. Social bonds across class would be created.

Americans would be held in awe by the rest of the civilized world for their education system.

etc etc etc

With such a system you'd be acting to assist the raising of children who would be effective parents by addressing the educational and health needs of kids that are found lacking, exposing kids to a big wide world of choices in terms of partners, careeer, life-style, friends and outcomes of decisions.

You'd also be creating a society better able to follow American ideals.


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serdudds wrote:


I've had this conversation with a friend before, and she believes that people should almost certainly be forced to take tests before they're allowed to have a baby.

I think this is crazy myself. Limiting the ability for people to have a family just seems far too oppressive to me. The enforcement of such a law would be far to difficult too and lead to even worse living conditions for children of parents "who failed the test."

I agree that it would be largely impractical to enforce and sounds like a dystopian society, yet I love the idea. And why it is that it's so hard to adopt (I do suppose that adoption is more ore less the same thing in Belgium and in the US), with tons of visits from social workers, tons of questionnaires, while those proceeding the biological way have just to have a shag.
 
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DCAnderson wrote:


He does however take this line of reasoning to an extreme in saying that indoctrinating your child into a belief system from an early age is abusive. Even some of his fellow atheists say that that idea is retarded.

I do think there is something to be said in that it is far better parenting to teach your children to think critically than to teach them that whatever you say is the absolute truth.


fixed!

Well to me teaching your children to think critically is exactly the contrary of indoctrination. Maybe it's just the word "abusive" that you do not like?
 
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