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I Am Not the Enemy

We are the parents. God gave us our children. It is our responsibility to see that they are properly nurtured in mind, body, and soul. So why then do the state, the schools, the medical community, and even the parish religious education offices think we are incompetent? Why do I feel like I have to ask permission to parent my child?

The latest assault on parental authority comes in Maine. A school-based health clinic will now dispense oral contraceptives and contraceptive patches to girls ages eleven to thirteen. The girls must have their parents’ permission to use the clinic services, but once that permission is given, parents are not notified of what types of services are utilized. They will be dispensing powerful hormones to newly post-pubescent girls and their parents won’t have a clue.

What is the message this clinic is sending to the students? How about, Your parents don’t really know best. Their teaching is irrelevant. You make your own decisions and we will help you do what you want. Is the clinic staff going to take responsibility when one of the thirteen year olds has a stroke because she started smoking while taking birth control pills? Are they going to explain away her HIV infection because she got drunk and was gang raped at a party? After all, they told her loud and clear that it was fine for her to be sexually active in spite of her parents’ admonishments against it. Why should she listen to her parents’ objections to drinking, smoking, or drugs? This exclusion of parents in the critical decisions for their children is a serious threat to the social institution of the family. And as we have seen, the destruction of the family does not bode well for society at large.

Unfortunately, too many parents have become numb to this assault. It is now taken for granted that the school will teach about sex, the doctors will decide what immunizations are given, and the parish religious education office will teach children the faith. Too many parents are just passive observers. They just blindly chauffer their children from one indoctrination activity to another. And when a parent tries to wrest control from one of these institutions they are labeled as a trouble-maker, a fanatic, or an unfit parent.

From the Catechism:

The family must be helped and defended by appropriate social measures. Where families cannot fulfill their responsibilities, other social bodies have the duty of helping them and of supporting the institution of the family. Following the principle of subsidiarity, larger communities should take care not to usurp the family’s prerogatives or interfere in its life. (CCC 2209)

Therefore, contrary to common practice, the schools, the state, the medical community, and the parish religious education program are there to assist me in the parenting of my children. It is my prerogative to dictate how much assistance I will accept.

For example, I opt my children out of the tenth grade sex education program at their public high school. Its lesson titles include Which contraceptive is right for you? and Are you gay? Of course I have heard some tongue clicking because I am sheltering my children too much. I don’t know why some people assume that if my children don’t get information at school, they will not get it. I am a board certified family physician with 15 years of active clinical practice under my belt including time spent as a physician in a college health clinic. Believe, me. I am not naïve about what kids know and do. I want my children to be prepared. But I prepare them with both biological and spiritual information in a unified “curriculum” that my husband and I teach them from early childhood through their teenage years.

It is time for parents to understand that being in the driver’s seat as a parent means more than just sitting behind the wheel of the minivan. It is time for institutions to abandon their adversarial stance towards parents. They are to cooperate with my agenda for my child, not fight it. No one loves my child more than I do. I am not the enemy. I am the parent.

UPDATE: Fr. Robert Araujo at Mirror of Justice has a wonderfully insightful piece on this topic.

AND ONE MORE THING: Since I wrote this piece I have been struck by another thought on the middle school health clinic issue that I have not seen addressed anywhere. What is the age of consent for sexual activity? Is anyone asking these middle school girls about their sexual partners? My guess it is they are not 11-year old boys. By handing out contraception to girls who are legally too young to give consent for sexual activity, aren't we possibly enabling them to be victims of statutory rape and/or sexual abuse?


Jennie C. said…
Hi! I came over Michelle's. This post is just perfect! I have these sorts of conversations all the time, with perfect strangers, who think I can't possible raise up my children without the help of the public school system. I think they're all a little addled. :-)
Lela said…
So very well put. I came here through Michelle. I have emailed this on to others. What you have written, I find so encouraging. It is difficult to go against the norm in society. If more people did it, like stand up against the number of immunizations given, we might be listened to and things might change quicker. We can make a difference. One person can make a difference. If you could expound on this subject again later, it would most appreciated.
Barb, sfo said…
AMEN!! Thanks for this, which lets us all know that we are not the only parents who are uncomfortable with how things are going and how our authority is being undermined.
scmom (Barbara) said…
As our beloved pastor said at Mass this morning in regard to this very issue, "the world has gone MAD!"

Well put, Denise.
Milehimama said…
Good post.

We would all be better off if parents would remember that the school system, the doctor, etc. are our employees - WE delegate the task to them. And, as taxpayers, or insurance consumers, we fund their paycheck!
Kitchen Madonna said…
I still say we need to march on Washington!
Jen said…
I came over from Sarah's....this is a beautiful post. One that every parent should read. Thank you for posting this.
Well said.

The scary part of this is that in standing up to those who challenge parental rights, we put our children in danger.
The common spin of school administrators is the appeal to expertise through sheer volume, that because they deal with hundreds or thousands of children "just like yours," they are in a more objective position, both to assess their needs, and to bring vast resources to bear.

The fallacy in this is that your children are NOT "just like" someone else's. Further, they are not the property of the State; they are yours. Something to whack them over the head with next time a school bond levy comes up for a vote.
Gretchen said…
Thank you for your passion on this subject. It's nice to know there are lots of us who think alike!
uncle jim said…
I have linked to and borrowed your post, with full acknowledgments, in my blog 'a second chance'.
Great offering.

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