Saturday, November 06, 2004

Ordering dubious parenting practices

Dr. Bret K. Johnson is a child psychologist for the California courts, and he frequently makes official recommendations that become court orders for parents. Apparently he routinely includes these boilerplate orders:
17. Derogatory Remarks: Parents shall not make, nor permit others to make, derogatory remarks regarding the other parent or the other parent's friends and loved ones to the children nor within the hearing range of the children.
18. Fighting: Parents shall not argue with, threaten, or insult one another nor allow others to argue with, threaten, or insult the other parent in the children's presence.
19. Discussion of Court Matters: Neither parent shall, or allow anyone else to, discuss or allow the children to read information regarding Court matters of custody, visitation, or support, in the presence of the children.
What happened to free speech? Normally, people have a First Amendment right to express any opinions they want, and there can be no prior government restraint on those expressions. Surely, every parent has a fundamental right to tell his own kids the facts that dominate their lives!

He also includes this:
21. Corporal Punishment: Neither parent shall use, nor allow any other person to use, corporal punishment on the children.
Reasonable corporal punishment (such as spanking) is entirely legal, and most parents think that it is sometimes necessary. There is no proof that such punishment causes any harm to anyone. What possible justification for such an order could there be?

Here are some more outrageous boilerplate clauses:
14. Safety: At all times, the children shall be in appropriate car safety restraints, kept from harm's way and kept in the immediate eye shot of the supervising parent or an assigned caregiver.
15. Supervision: At all times, Father, Mother, and all care providers shall ensure and oversee the children's appropriate supervision, hygiene, safety, and general care. In general, the children shall not be left alone without appropriate adult supervision.
You'll think that Safety and Supervision are good things, of course, but there are hardly any kids in America (or the world) that are really raised within the eyeshot of a supervisor at all times. Talk to any mom with more than about 3 kids, and she'll tell you that it is not even possible. Nor is it even particularly desirable. Most people consider independent play a good thing.

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