Parents Deserve The Right To Raise Their Children


Parents Deserve The Right To Raise Their Children

By Bob McCoskrie – National Director Family First NZ




Bob McCoskrie is the National Director of Family First New Zealand

. He is a long-standing TV- and radio reporter.

This article was previously published in the Dominion Post, Wellington, February 13, 2008.

It is published here with the kind consent of the author.




A clinical psychologist in private practice in Washington DC recently opined in The Washington Post about the lost art of instilling respect in children. The concept of “all my mother had to do was shoot me a look” has been replaced by a “feeble nod of parental acquiescence and an earnest acknowledgement of how hard it is to be a kid these days.” She reflects from observing children and parents interacting in her office that not only are kids unafraid of their parents, parents are afraid of their kids.


We’re not talking about the fear of “the bash”, verbal abuse or unwanted sexual attention which as a community we should be taking all steps to eliminate. It’s the healthy fear which leads to respect – a respect for the authority of parents, teachers, and the police.


Politicians, with the support of the UN, Children’s Commissioner and Youth Law Project to name a few, have sought to increase children’s rights without considering the vital role of parents.


For example Article 13 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child says that every child should have the right to ‘‘information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice’’. Does a child have a right to access internet pornography, or does the parent have the right to restrict this access?


Articles 15 and 16 of the Convention argue the right of a child to associate with others, the right to protection from interference, and the right to privacy. Yet what happens when children want to start dating, stay out late, engage in sexual activity, or view objectionable video games or movies at home? Whose right is more right?


Other recent examples include a teenager who attempted to ‘divorce’ her parent because she didn’t like the family rules. She used the ironically named Care of Children Act 2004 which effectively moved authority away from parents towards the State – a parent now only has ‘day to day care’, no longer ‘custody’, and the Act reinforces the concept of children’s ‘rights’; recognising children as independent entities rather than members of their families.


Young girls (some well under the age of sexual consent) are being sneaked off by schools to get contraceptives or an abortion without any parental knowledge. This is happening far too often with the sanction of school counselors and Family Planning Association and endorsed by a majority of MP’s when voted on in 2004.


And the anti-smacking law sends a clear message to parents that they are no longer primary guardians of their children. The State and its agencies know better how to raise your children and parents who responsibly correct their children will be liable to prosecution and CYF intervention. Meanwhile, child abuse rates are unchanged and the real causes unchallenged.


Ironically, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child also acknowledges the important role of parents in raising a child with appropriate direction, guidance, and correction. It recognises the right, and duty, of parents to provide direction and guidance in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child. Yet the recent Care of Children Act says that age and maturity should not be factors when considering the views of a child.


Any parent knows that the capacity of a child is very different to the capacity of an adult. That is why we have laws protecting children from sexual involvement and exploitation, driving vehicles, voting, drinking alcohol, watching violent and sexually explicit movies. That’s why we say “no pudding until you eat your peas”, and “get to bed now!” That’s why we train and correct children in a way that is different to how we deal with adults.


This issue is what is called cognitive dissonance – the holding of two contradictory ideas in one’s mind simultaneously.


On one hand, a parent is responsible for the actions of their child in the community and school, but at the same time their role is being undermined by growing pressure on mothers to work and enroll their child in daycare, criminalising effective methods of parental correction, providing the Independent Youth Benefit, provision of contraception and abortion without the consent or even knowledge of the parents, and the recent example of a school dobbing in a parent to CYF for giving their child a light smack.


Dr Michael Reid in his book “From Innocents to Agents – Children and Children’s Rights in New Zealand” says that children are no longer being seen as innocent and vulnerable, but as full human beings needing support to assert rights to autonomy and independence. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is part of a wider attempt to undermine “what some saw as oppressive parental rights to control children.”


The huge irony is that the more the state undermines the authority of parents, the less responsibility parents will take for their children. If the government wants parents to be responsible parents, they must firstly respect their authority.


A child’s rights should never be at the expense of the parental right to nurture, protect and set boundaries in a family setting. Rights of children have been shifted from simply (and rightly) protecting vulnerable children to granting them rights that are destructive to them, to good parenting practice, and to the welfare of the whole family in which they are being raised.


Children will have plenty of rights, and responsibilities, to worry about when they become adults.

Family First

Children's Needs, not Rights, should be the Focus
By Bob McCoskrie

Bob Mc Coskrie's interview with Ruby Harrold-Claesson
NZ One, July 2006

Rhema Broadcasting Radio Interview June 14, 2005 with Ruby Harrold-Claesson

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