Saturday, November 29, 2014

Kids have rights, so what's a parent to do?

The American writer/thinker Ayn Rand was the first person in history to finally understand and explain what human rights are:

A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man’s right to his own life. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action—which means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life. (Such is the meaning of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.)  
The Virtue of Selfishness, page 93

When Rand says "man", she means "humans" (all people), not just men, of course. Rand correctly said that people automatically have rights upon birth on page 58 of The Voice of Reason.

And here (all people):
Since Man has inalienable individual rights, this means that the same rights are held, individually, by every man, by all men, at all times. Therefore, the rights of one man cannot and must not violate the rights of another. -- 
The Ayn Rand Column, page 84

She also correctly discovered that ALL humans have rights because they possess the mind's faculty of reason (unlike lower animals):

The source of man’s rights is not divine law or congressional law, but the law of identity. A is A—and Man is Man. Rights are conditions of existence required by man’s nature for his proper survival. If man is to live on earth, it is right for him to use his mind, it is right to act on his own free judgment, it is right to work for his values and to keep the product of his work. If life on earth is his purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being: nature forbids him the irrational. Any group, any gang, any nation that attempts to negate man’s rights, is wrong, which means: is evil, which means: is anti-life.
For the New Intellectual, page 182

Her point in saying that all humans automatically have rights is that humans don't have to prove they are rational to have rights; they have rights by the simple fact that they are rational animals.

This same argument applies to infants and other children of all ages. Whether a human is capable at any given moment to exercise their rationality is of no consequence concerning rights. They STILL have those rights, whether they are comatose, an invalid, crippled, knocked out, asleep or just born.
(To read my blog entry on comatose adults and children's rights, please READ HERE)

Having a caretaker to help them with their lives does not obviate their individual rights. And the caretaker does not take on any position of absolute authority in relation to the person requiring care, outside of the implied or explicit "authorization" to act for them in a way that is objectively constructive (a way that would mimic the their own objective acts if they were capable).

The parental status is ONLY the caretaker status -- the caretaker of rights and safety. The caretaker guards the child until the child becomes better at running his/her own life through "self-generated" thought and action, until the child can determine what goals (values) he or she wishes to pursue, including information (education), careers, morality, hobbies, play, etc.

It is not the job of the caretaker (parent) to decide for the child what they "should' do: education, careers, morality, hobbies, play, etc. It is not the job of the caretaker to "direct" the child towards the caretaker's values: education, careers, morality, hobbies, play, etc.

As a caretaker of rights, the parent will ensure that the baby/child understands that rights are a two-way street: that nobody can coerce them (use force agains them unless they use force first) and that they can't coerce others. Staying on top of this ALWAYS is vital for a caretaker. Children should be treated in the exact same manner as we treat other adults, with complete and utter respect always for their rights.

All of the above is fundamental to a parent/child relationship based on rights. There are other aspects of being a caretaker that are very good for children but not obligatory:

1) Surrounding the child with things that are potentially interesting, so they can get to know their world better and faster, thereby making choices more easily on what they want to do.
2) Being involved and interested in their lives (which you should since you HAD them) and having terrific conversations.
3) Expressing yourself always, including your judgments of people.
4) Being a great role model by having an exciting career, being moral always, being entirely open with your thoughts and judgments, showing your affection, being emotional when you are emotional, being properly selfish always so that they see that your life means everything to you.

When we honor our children's rights for self-determination, parenting (care taking) is a piece of cake. They run their own lives. They never have a reason to rebel (there's no "authority" to rebel against). They are astoundingly moral, creative and self-motivated because they've seen your example and they know they are in full charge of their lives.

Then our children become our great friends.