by: Dr. Dathan Paterno
Chapter Two of my book Desperately Seeking Parents is entitled “Playing your Wii is not in the Bill of Rights”. The idea is that Parents in Charge differentiate between their children’s rights and their privileges—those things that must be earned.
If you search online, you can see all sorts of organizations who support the rights of children. The advocate all kinds of things, like no corporal punishment, no homework, full voting rights, basic human decency, and the right to choose dessert. Some seem to want to make everything a right for children, while others seem to focus on certain areas where children have been abused and neglected.
I’m all for children’s rights, but there should be reasonable limits. When I work with families with rebellious or out-of-control children, I instruct parents to tell their children that they have a few basic rights that will never be denied:
- A roof over their head
- Enough clothes to be warm and comfortable
- Enough food to be healthy
- Medical care
- Transportation to school
- An audience to address grievances and requests—IF and only if they are expressed respectfully
- No physical, sexual, emotional abuse
- A bare minimum of privacy (more can certainly be earned)
Can you think of any others that you strongly believe should be included in a Children’s Bill of Rights? Feel free to comment and explain why you believe what you do!