License to Grill (Parenting Licenses)

Should parenting require a license?

I recently read from the book “The Right To Be Loved” by Matthew Liao, and while the book had merit, a certain topic gleamed through and showed a perfect example of a problem I have with most proposals and discussions on social issues have

Child Protective Services says that “About four out of five abusers are the victims’ parents.” and “In 2015, an estimated 1,670 children died from abuse and neglect in the United States. In 2015, Children’s Advocacy Centers around the country served more than 311,000“http://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/media-room/media-kit/national-statistics-child-abuse child victims of abuse, So clearly not all parents are fit to be parents. But how can we create a way of vetting to ensure that people who enter the parenting world are fit. By licenses of course. As LaFollette, and many others have decided to come up with a licensing scheme.http://www.hughlafollette.com/papers/lic-par.htm

Which rests on three main assumptions. That in order to require a license.

a) An activity has potential to harm others

b)The activity requires a competency level for its safe performance

c)There exists reliable procedure to determine whether an individual is competent to safely perform said activity.

In this case that would be parenting, and while I think that this is a good start, this is where my disagreement really shines through.

Nearly all activities one performs in society fit the first requirement, the second is true of any activity in which humans are the only one’s capable of performing said action, and the third while important, has no discussion on the intrusiveness or potential harm one can have on society.  Consider how hard it is to define a fit parent using this definition. What would be the alternative and how would one go about making sure that people follow through. You can’t fine parents without licenses, because it may make the child much worse off if their parents can’t provide for them due to the fine. Taking a child away seems cruel, especially if the child has grown up a bit. And what would the alternative be. Foster Care System? It does raise a good point though, what should be done to have better parenting? Should we consider having incentives for licensed parents rather than punishments for unlicensed parents, and how can we pay for such incentives, not to mention the difficulties of deciding who is and isn’t a fit parent. Overall, I think that the topic is quite complex, and that we should probably not license parents, but I would love to hear any other ideas!

I brought up the example of parenting, not because the civic issue I believe has merit and will take off, but because it represents a trend I’ve noticed a lot in many arguments and proposals that have begun to gain traction, or to engage discussion. They all skip the defining of the terms used, or the goal one wants to achieve. If I asked somebody for a moral framework, it would be a decent starting point, but it fails miserably because we may have different ideas for what morals are, what they achieve, and what the goal of a moral framework is. Each of these points are ill-defined, and not having a defined start point or end goal can make it so one’s argument becomes too molded to a particular goal that shifts depending on the points being brought up against it.

In this case, the licensing discussion has really good basis for what it wants to do, it wants to improve the overall level of parenting, but because of its ill-defined starting point and ending goal (which I didn’t omit just to prove a point). It allows for way too much variance in one’s approach to the topic at hand. I just used this example as more of a stepping stone to a much larger issue at hand. We make too many assumptions with movements we believe in. There are topics many of us believe to be clear cut, you can express yourself however you want if it hurts nobody, separation of religion and government, discrimination is bad. But because of our lack of resistance to such topics we never have to fight back, or get to hear the complexities of such issues. It hurts a lot when a great movement is starting up, but it lacks either a clear goal or a clear definition, because it gets a ton of people together for a just clause, but it lacks the focus needed to get something done.

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