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Essay On Parental Autonomy

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I. INTRODUCTION At least according to early historians, children’s rights and duties were unknown among uncivilised people. Far from being considered as autonomous beings children were originally regarded as a species of property. Parents could make decisions for their children anyhow they wanted. Parents could do whatever they wanted to their children and society would not intervene. Children were believed to be immature to know what was good for them and could not make decisions for themselves. This principle of parental control over their children became known as parental autonomy. Parental autonomy is the right of parents to raise their children in whatever way they see fit. It means that parents can make any decisions regarding the welfare of their children without any interference from other people or the State. This right manifests itself in the authority or the power that parents have over their children. Though not owed any particular rights, children were obliged to honour parents and, if necessary, to support them. Everything that children did was supposed to be for the common good of the family and for them as autonomous individuals. It was the parents who decided what was good for the family and the children had no say even if it meant being sold into slavery or forced labour. In this essay, I will discuss the concept of parental autonomy, its scope and limitations with regard to the upbringing of children. The essay will proceed as follows; in the next part I will discuss the scope of parental autonomy under international law. Parental authority is not a new concept in law. It is only its application that has gone through a lot of transformation. We have moved from an era of total parental autonomy to a... ... middle of paper ... ...rights. The critics fail to realise that as long as parents protect and provide for their children well, States will not intervene. It is only in instances where parents are seen and proven to be failing in their duties that States are bound to intervene. In the same manner, when parents are on the same wave length as their children and treat them as individuals and respect their opinions, there are bound to be no conflicts. However, we live in an imperfect world, and the law seeks to put measures to ensure that children who were once a marginalised group are recognised and are taught to be responsible for themselves from an early age. In line with the principle of the best interests of the child, limited parental autonomy might be in the best interests of the child so as to protect the child from taking individual actions or choices that are harmful to him or her.
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