I write again today regarding parental rights, something which has become a real hot button for me in recent years.
Basically, my view is--parents should be able to parent however they choose, even if everyone in society disagrees with their choices. I definitely don't object to, and even appreciate, advice from family members and best friends, but the government butting its nose into a family affair and telling us what to do is not American in the least. Neither is it proper for strangers amongst me to butt their nose in, either.
The case of Daniel Hauser, the 13 year old who has cancer and whom doctors say needs chemotherapy, but doesn't want it1, and whose mother wants alternative medicine treatments instead on his behalf, is a perfect example of the government butting its nose in where it doesn't belong. Here you have the state of Minnesota using the legal system--even to the point of employing international agencies like Interpol--to strong-arm the mother & son into returning home to be forced into a form of treatment neither of them agree with.
Once again, the government tells you how to parent your children. It doesn't suggest or advise, or even strongly advise, it orders.
Who is the parent here anyway?
Granted, this is apparently a serious life/death situation, but as one reader wrote in a letter-to-the-editor2 in the NorthJersey.Com newspaper, this form of government intervention doesn't stop here. Further, as the letter-to-the-editor stated, this is a God thing; God placed these parents in charge of these children's lives, not the state or government. This is nothing less than the government disrespecting God and his principles full-blown.
Except in extreme cases, we're supposed to let parents decide, but we don't. Already, you are not allowed to decide for yourself whether or not to let your children enjoy the back of an open-bed pickup truck due to safety, whether they should be confined to child seats in the car (miserable in the process, often-times) or be allowed some freedom to move about, and some states are doing their best to eliminate the option of home-schooling your children, so tough luck if you don't like what they're teaching your children in school these days about homosexuality, evolution or the like.
Here we go with yet another intrusion--the government can order the parents to provide the type of medical treatment they think is right, and can even force the child to accept it if they don't want it. This sort of thing is actually happening in the USA?
I sure am glad this type of ridiculous oversight didn't exist when I was a child. All those wonderful times riding in the back of my father's open-bed pickup truck--at highway speeds, mind you, all those times my cousins and sister rode in the back of my aunt's camper-shelled Toyota during the summertime on the way to White Lake, all the times I rode my Big Wheel® on a 55 mph rural highway as an 8-year old (with my mother inside, mind you), playing unsupervised at my grandaddy's home with all that junk he had outside there (and in the barns I used to sneak into also), I am so glad there wasn't some busy-body with a cellular phone (or CB radio) calling the government and using them as a tool to impose their parenting views on my family.
What does one have to do now to parent as one sees fit, move to a 3rd world country, or never leave the rural country for the city?
Growing up, I always saw my parents--not my government, not social services, not CPS--as the final authority as to what went down in my life. Heck I didn't even know who CPS was. At times I hated it, sure, but I respected it--and for the most part I wouldn't have had it any other way. Really, the only time I would've had it any other way was when I wanted to be mischievous and get away with it.
Which brings up another aspect--how is anyone supposed to parent if their children know that there's always someone they can go to outside their home that is above their parents? Growing up I always believed that, if I didn't like how my mother parented me, the only option I had was to run away, period. Any family members I went to backed my mother up, and rightly so. No one in school or anywhere else would referee and force my mother to do as I wanted her. And so it should've been.
I understand that parental rights doesn't mean a parent should be able to be deliberately negligent or deliberately harmful, I certainly wouldn't agree with a parent taking their child to one of those "fringe" churches where people let poisonous snakes bite you while you trust in God to heal you. But some examples where I've seen people call for intervention I haven't agreed with it being done--Michael Jackson and the "baby dangling," Britney Spears and her forgetting to buckle her children up, Steve Irwin holding his child in his arm while feeding a crocodile. Granted those were risky behaviors, and I understand that they shocked people, but do we really think it's any of our business to use the government to butt into their affairs and tell them how to do their job as parents? Where does it end? Who gave us the right to judge others, when we're not perfect ourselves?
To be sure, this is why even more mundane adventures such as taking a child to the pool with you in the deep end (even with floaties), letting a child ride in the back of an open-bed pickup and feel the wind in their hair, letting them ride a bicycle without those stifling (if protective) helmets--now parents aren't able to make such decisions about such matters for themselves. Previously, it was left up to US to decide what safety/adventure ratio position we wanted to take. Maybe our choices weren't agreed with by everyone, but our right to choose as we saw fit was respected--even though some deaths occurred. It should still be this way, I strongly feel, even with the occasional death, yet it isn't, and that's wrong.
I will recreate the Letter To The Editor which I linked to above, in case the link has expired:
The Daniel Hauser case should outrage all Americans ("Boy in need of chemo can stay with parents," Page A-8, May 27).
I understand that Daniel's life may or may not be in danger depending on whom you believe: his medical doctors, who feel chemotherapy is necessary to save his life, or his parents, who believe there are other methods of curing cancer without chemo or radiation.
The Hauser case cuts directly to the heart of the American dream and the American promise: freedom and the right to self-determination. For generations, people from around the world have sought to come to America not just because we are such a wealthy nation, but because we are supposed to be a nation that allows people to determine for themselves how to live life and raise families. Here people may live as they choose and worship, or not worship, as they choose. Freedom also includes the right to choose how to care for disease.
Daniel is a minor, and I would agree that he is not capable of self-determination. Further, it's probably true that Daniel does not fully understand his condition. However, I believe Daniel's parents do. The doctors in this case might argue that his parents don't fully understand his condition and therefore are not fit to make decisions about his medical care. But that is a slippery slope. Where does that end?
America was based upon this ideal: "In God we trust." If we, as a nation, still do believe in God and still trust in God, then we should accept that Colleen and Anthony Hauser are exactly the right parents providing exactly the right kind of care for Daniel.
The Hausers were given the task of raising and caring for a child, Daniel, by their creator. It was the Hausers who were assigned the job of Daniel's decision-making until he is an adult, not the government of the United States or the state of Minnesota. The Hausers are not neglecting Daniel. They are providing care they believe in, which is outside commonly accepted medical standards.
When the Hausers disappeared before a court hearing, U.S. marshals were sent to search for them. Is this how our tax dollars should be spent — sending marshals to search for a mother who has determined what she and her husband believe is best for their child?
As a parent, I can tell you that I do not want the government telling me what is best for my child. This should outrage every parent. Cases like this one set a dangerous precedent for government to tell us how we should raise our children. Even worse, this case gives way too much power to medical doctors to dictate, backed by the government, what kind of medical care families choose.
My heart goes out to the Hausers, not only because they are dealing with their son's health challenge, but also because now they must cope with the government dictating to them which course of care is best. Making our children's health decisions is nerve-wracking enough without our government and a group of medical doctors forcing their will upon us.
I believe Colleen and Anthony Hauser should be honored as true, brave Americans who are bold enough to follow their own path and stand up for the right to freedom and self-determination, instead of being pushed into following "accepted doctrine," if they honestly do not believe that is what is best for their child.
Please don't tell me how the Hausers are putting their child at risk. We allow our children to experience risk every day. We allow them to play football, baseball, soccer, lacrosse and all manner of violent contact sports. We take them skiing, surfing and skydiving. We put them on bicycles, dirt bikes and quads. We let them snowboard and skateboard while doing flips and tricks. We travel in airplanes, and we allow them to scuba dive — not to mention all the more mundane risks we live with every day, such as driving on America's highways.
I understand Daniel has cancer and many of us feel that he should be receiving certain care. However, before we push too hard for this family to do what we think is best for their son, we should all think long and hard about just how soon we want Big Brother knocking on our door, telling us how to raise our family.
I couldn't have said it any better, and it is so refreshing to see a letter-to-the-editor from someone that gets it, as opposed to the Communist-types prevalent nowadays who think the government most certainly should be in everyone's business, and heck should be in it even more than they already are. I mean, after all, parents can't be trusted to know what's best for their children, in the name of "protecting the children" we butt into their business and say that it's a wonderful thing we're doing.
1 Yahoo! Story, Minnesota teen says he's angry about continuing chemo.
2 Letter to the Editor regarding this case, in support of parental rights