Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Who Teaches Us How to Parent?

Who teaches young adults how to be parents?

The traditional answer: Their parents.

The modern answer: The government.

Chuck Norris -- yeah, that Chuck Norris, but don't dismiss him too quickly (you wouldn't be so quick to dismiss George Clooney, wouldja?) -- has a column at Townhall.com which details one of the many "dirty little secrets" of the health care reform package considered by Congress.

Norris said he did so after seeing how much anger is bubbling up over Congress' failure to discuss the details with the American people. "... I decided to research the reasons so many are opposed to Obamacare to separate the facts from the fantasy. What I discovered is that there are indeed dirty little secrets buried deep within the 1,000-plus page health care bill."
Dirty secret No. 1 in Obamacare is about the government's coming into homes and usurping parental rights over child care and development.

It's outlined in sections 440 and 1904 of the House bill (Page 838), under the heading "home visitation programs for families with young children and families expecting children." The programs (provided via grants to states) would educate parents on child behavior and parenting skills.

The bill says that the government agents, "well-trained and competent staff," would "provide parents with knowledge of age-appropriate child development in cognitive, language, social, emotional, and motor domains ... modeling, consulting, and coaching on parenting practices," and "skills to interact with their child to enhance age-appropriate development."
As Norris says, "Are you kidding me?"

I don't know about you, fellow citizens, but I don't remember ever voting on anything that says "government controls your life from here on out." Apparently Mr. Norris agrees with me because he goes into some detail:
... whose parental principles and values? Their own? Certain experts'? From what field and theory of childhood development? As if there are one-size-fits-all parenting techniques! Do we really believe they would contextualize and personalize every form of parenting in their education, or would they merely universally indoctrinate with their own?

Are we to assume the state's mediators would understand every parent's social or religious core values on parenting? Or would they teach some secular-progressive and religiously neutered version of parental values and wisdom? And if they were to consult and coach those who expect babies, would they ever decide circumstances to be not beneficial for the children and encourage abortions?

One government rebuttal is that this program would be "voluntary." Is that right? Does that imply that this agency would just sit back passively until some parent needing parenting skills said, "I don't think I'll call my parents, priest or friends or read a plethora of books, but I'll go down to the local government offices"? To the contrary, the bill points to specific targeted groups and problems, on Page 840: The state "shall identify and prioritize serving communities that are in high need of such services, especially communities with a high proportion of low-income families."

Are we further to conclude by those words that low-income families know less about parenting?
Good questions, all.
Children belong to their parents, not the government. And the parents ought to have the right -- and government support -- to parent them without the fed's mandates, education or intervention in our homes.
I'll go Chuck one better. I don't even want the federal government's "support" of parenting. According to the U.S. Constitution, the federal government has no role -- zero, zilch, nada -- when it comes to telling or advising anyone how to raise their brood.

We've gone so far down the road of interventionism that we have forgotten where the original boundary lines were drawn. It's time to peel back the pavement and the paint and find those boundaries again.

Some will say, "Tom, it's a small piece of a big picture, a voluntary program that isn't going to go anywhere." And I will reply, "Since when has the government ever backed away from exercising authority it has usurped? It will take a small hole and enlarge it. It is like an octopus, a spineless entity that can squeeze itself through very tiny openings to gorge itself on forbidden fish."

The tentacles are everywhere.

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