In an article for The Federalist, Anna Mussmann argued that our society, in treating kids like consumer products, has begun to strip away trust for parents. Mussmann writes that:
We are witnessing a drastic erosion of public support for the idea that ordinary parents are the people most likely to know what is best for their children [. . .] we no longer trust the dad and mom next door.
This erosion reflects a distrust of parents to be parents that not only undervalues what parents do, but is increasingly willing to take away their ability to do it.
As parents, we see our children not as resources to manage or objects to control, but as human beings in need of our guidance. One of the main differences between the parent and the child is that the parent is far more selfless, often sacrificing greatly out of love for the child, whereas the child has to learn how to be selfless and loving. While the State can help care for material needs, it can not do as an act of love because the State is impersonal. Children need their parents, acting in love to care for them, in order to flourish.
Mussmann argues that parents in society have increasingly begun to view children as objects. By emphasizing choice, as to when to have children, how many to have, choosing even which children to keep, parents have begun to act as consumers. The consumer mindset views the child, and often a particular child (the daughter, the disability-free son, etc.) as an object bringing happiness and fulfillment to the parent. Such a mindset is selfish, harmful for children, and dangerous for parental rights. Mussemann explains that:
[A] society that encourages parents to behave with the selfishness and self-absorption of children is in danger of forgetting what parents even are [and when this happens] society loses trust in all parents and decides that the child’s only reliable advocate is the child himself (aided and supported by the power of the state). The end result of this is that it leaves children “at the mercy of the state, an institution less capable of loving them than even a flawed and moderately selfish parent.”
When we, as parents, see our children through the eyes of love, we respond to them as human beings; this lets us become better parents who are able to help our children grow into maturity. For ultimately, as Mussmann reminds us, our job is to be people our children can trust.
In the end, Mussmann looks to parents like you and me, ordinary parents, to help teach our society the fundamental importance of parenting.
Related Blog Posts:
Parental Engagement Series