Should People Need a License to Have Children?

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You need special credentials to drive a car, rent a book from a library and even get a credit card, but there are no prerequisites to raise a child?

Isn’t it baffling that everyday people like us are allowed to procreate without first passing a test, getting some kind of license or even attend a parenting class? Think about it. You need a library card to take out a five-dollar paperback, because you can’t be trusted to return it in a period long enough to read it four times over. You’re also required to take a drivers education course and then pass a test to operate a vehicle. Yes, you can take a class to learn how to give birth, but once that child is out, you’re on your own.

There isn’t even a test at the OB’s pre-pregnancy interview. There should be some kind of “Mommy Aptitude” screening, at the very least, don’t you think? During your interview, they could call your mom… Ah, mine would say,

“Sam always dreamed of being a mother and loved playing house. Her dolls were mostly naked, and she liked to cut their hair down to the hair transplant plug scalps. She would dunk them in the toilets, saying that is was “their vacation hot tub.” Heck, sometimes, she would even detach their limbs and try to put them back in the wrong sockets. Have I said too much? No, really, she would be wonderful.”

And the Doctor’s response: “Put in a 10-year IUD, give her supervised visitation with an ant, and make sure someone counts the legs.”

Right, no license, no age requirement, no nothing…just have sex, fertilize an egg, bingo, one becomes a parent. And exactly what makes someone fit to parent? What makes someone think that just by bringing a child into the world they are fit to parent that child?

Have you ever watched how other people behave with their children? We’ve probably all had the same thoughts: What is wrong with that mom or dad? How unhealthy/dangerous/annoying/abusive! That person clearly isn’t qualified to raise a child. No sooner has this thought flashed across our minds than we rebuke ourselves: Mind your own business. He or she’s probably just having a rough day. And of course: Who am I to judge?

Now we all know the State cannot prevent people from having children. They cannot regulate who shall and shall not have the right to procreate. However, rather than do nothing and merely sit back and throw up our hands, perhaps there are ways improve the probability of more effective parenting.

Maybe one day you too, want to become a parent, or maybe you don’t, but you care about the future generations to come, or the effects on the economy that you might have not thought about- wars, taxes, or healthcare (which I’ll get more into later).

Concerning this, lack of parenting skills can have long-term effects on children and on society. Poor parenting can happen for different reasons and will manifest in a variety of ways. Children are molded (especially in the adolescent years) directly by their parents; they are products of their environment. If parents are lacking the proper knowledge behind raising a child, these traits are only going to then be passed down to the child and carried with them.

First, when a parent’s behavior does not create a loving, supportive environment, a child’s brain develops in altered form. Dysfunctional, irrational, and destructive behavior patterns are literally programmed into the child’s brain, setting the stage for recurring issues throughout that child’s life.

Research from the Washington University School of Medicine supports that, “Children of nurturing mothers have much larger, healthier brains. Furthermore, the hippocampi of neglected children were up to 10 percent smaller than those of children with caring, loving mothers.”

According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children some common effects include, “Inability to have long lasting friendships and relationships, psychological disorders and depression and low self esteem.”
The ASPCC also states, “Neglected children and those who are exposed to abuse are more likely to be prosecuted for juvenile delinquency,” thus directly affecting our society as a whole.

Additionally, parenting affects prison costs, defense costs, and healthcare costs. According to the article Bad Parenting – What it Really Does to Kids, “Violence stemming from childhood trauma leads to increased rates of incarceration, and thus rising rates of prison spending. Our overarching cultural belief in the effectiveness of retribution causes us to act on the premise that war is necessary to correct other nations’ wrongful behavior, leading to a staggering defense budget. And research has linked child abuse with measurably higher healthcare costs in individuals.”

Rachel Allison, author of Poor Parenting Leads Youth to Violent Crime said, “If we don’t take the time and make the effort to teach, guide and counsel our children when they are young, we will spend years trying to undo the damage that is caused by our neglect.”

Ultimately, very few elements of our lives escape the impact of parenting, even though we may not consciously connect our difficulties, dysfunctions, and issues with our upbringing. My intention in sharing this information is not to shame or needlessly frighten you, but to educate in order to spark positive change. The majority of parents want the best for their children, and are themselves victims of negative parenting and mistaken cultural beliefs.

Kofi Annan once said, “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”

So even though, you are not required by law, for those of you who one day want to be a parent, I am encouraging you to educate yourself prior bringing another life into this world. I challenge you take on parenting as the most important job you will ever have (most parents believe it is).

Consult with your doctor about your health, actually read those recommended parenting books, get the opinions from your close family and friends, spend a weekend with someone who has children, for goodness sakes; get a goldfish and see if it lives longer than a week.

As for those of you do not want to be a parent, I hope you, can encourage sensible parenting, encourage family members or friends to have children, but with the necessary knowledge and consideration. We all know that one pushy relative who can’t wait until you pop out a bundle of joy (regardless if you’re ready or not – THEY are). Or similarly, that you take the precautionary actions to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

Remember, parenting skills are not only a direct affect on us individuals, children (whether or not they are yours), but also an influence on our future generations and our economy.

In the words of John F. Kennedy, “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”