Parental Authority even in the Courtroom


Over the past week, I’ve heard from people who may understand my point about having access to the courtroom for my teenagers, but many of them add a disclaimer such as “unless the content gets too violent for them” or “except when the testimony is talking about things like murder” or perhaps “they could go to something like property court, but not something about a drug bust…”

On the one hand, I agree with the sentiment. We don’t want children exposed to unnecessary violence. On the other hand, many parents chose to avoid an argument, ignore their child’s questionable activities or perhaps even think it’s ok for them to do things some of us might disagree with. What if I personally didn’t agree with another parent’s decision to:

–  allow rated R (or PG-13) movies (which usually contain tons of violence, sex, cursing, etc.)

–  give a child a cell phone at age 12 or 13 (which can be used for sexting, contact with predators, unauthorized internet access)

–  allow a minor child internet access (do I need to even explain)

–  let a child watch shows like Special Victims Unit or Dexter (which includes violence like rape and murder)

–  leave an 11-year-old at home alone

–  give 16-year-olds keys to a vehicle (many have no business driving)

–  spank a child

–  get vaccinations / deny vaccinations

–  go to a mall alone

 

Across our country, there have been judges who disagree with the very idea of homeschooling who have ordered that children be put in public school for “socialization” – not because the child was having issues, but simply because the judge disagreed with homeschooling. What if I were a judge and decided mothers needed to be home caring for their children instead of sending them to daycare or public school? (I bet that wouldn’t go over so well, but judges are entitled to enforce their opinions in court, right?)

My children are mature. My oldest two children are almost 20 and 18. My oldest daughter is a junior in college and my son is leaving to serve in the Army in January. I am incredibly proud of them both. My husband and I made the decision to homeschool when it was time to enter my oldest in kindergarten and I was told by the school system that she would have to sit and review her letters for the next year even though she already knew how to read fluently. We plunged in and we’ve never looked back. I continue to teach our 12, 14 and 16-year-old children at home and in the community.

Learning is a privilege and homeschooling has been a delightful journey, but we’ve always placed our children’s safety and well-being above all else. We introduce concepts that are age-appropriate, limit their exposure to violence (especially early on) and encourage them to pursue their own interests and God-given talents. I do not take our decision to visit the courtroom lightly, but since we are responsible parents who care about our children, we are the best ones to make decisions about when to introduce certain concepts and how to do that. You wouldn’t appreciate me telling you that you’re literally not allowed to let your child watch a particular movie any more than I appreciate being told we cannot enter a public courtroom.

As a side note, for the most part, we’ve had overwhelming support and encouragement. Most people completely agree with our point of view and understand the issue at hand. Our local officials are trying to take parental authority into their own hands and in this case, the law has already stated that courtrooms are open to the public – all public (including minors). We’re not arguing about something that we want to “change.” We’re simply insisting that the law be followed.

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