Parental Rights Essay
Father Parental Rights
We are used to the situation when the rights of children and parents in families are clearly defined. We promote widely accepted beliefs, that parents are responsible for their children, and are obliged to take care of children, providing them with home, food, clothes, and various social opportunities. Traditional family will imply the existence of a happy married couple with at least two children, who possess sufficient freedom and are provided with everything they need daily. However, what happens when fathers leave? Are fathers responsible for taking care of their children after the law separates them? How do father parental rights and obligations impact the quality of the child’s social development? All these questions lack clear answers, but one thing is evident: fathers invariably impact the child’s worldviews and attitudes toward social environment. The role, which fathers play in their children’s lives help children develop specific socialization patterns, which they later use in their own families.
Socialization is important for successful social and psychological development of a child. Recent researches suggest that children usually go through the three different socialization stages: first, children are impacted by socialization patterns which their parents use early in life; second, children are impacted by socialization patterns which they learn when their parents separate; third, children tend to develop new types of socialization approaches when they create their own family unions (Archard 49). Thus, fathers should participate in the children’s development, to guarantee that children are prepared to the difficulties that await him (her) ahead. Unfortunately, fathers are not always able (willing) to fulfill their parental obligations. Daughters who are separated from their fathers find themselves in a virtually incomplete social environment, due to the fact that mothers are not always able to address the issues they face in their daily interactions with others.
Officially, “the natural father has no custodial right of the child once the parental rights are given up. Also, after relinquishing the parental rights the father has no legal rights and privileges on his child” (Montaque 14). Thus, the father who does not live with his daughter and has relinquished his parental rights is not obliged to provide his daughter with spiritual and moral support. While daughters are particularly vulnerable to external threats and may need their father’s support, fathers may appear unprepared to supporting their children through difficult times. Unfortunately, laws do not provide us with reliable instruments that would grant us with fathers’ loyalty and devotion; furthermore, laws seem to separate us with our fathers when they realize their inability to support us. For example, “the court allows voluntary giving up of parental rights for other than adoption cases if it is convinced that a good and sound reason exists for this and it serves the best interest of the child” (Archard 53); but how does the court know what is the best for me? Can the court realize the importance of my being with father? These legal issues will hardly be resolved in the nearest future. Evidently, fathers who do not live with their daughters break the eternal structure of legal and social relationships between parents and children, making their daughters unprepared to adult life.
Fathers invariably impact the quality of family relations between their daughters, mothers, and themselves. From my personal experience, fathers tend to display more tender attitudes towards their daughters than mothers do. This paradox may be the result of fathers being more realistic about their daughters’ weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Fathers tend to view themselves as their daughters’ safeguards; that is why providing fathers with clearer parental roles is essential for the successful social development of future generations.
Every day and every hour we face serious misbalances and inconsistencies in the current system of family law. These legal inconsistencies lead to unequal distribution of parental responsibilities between mothers and fathers. Fathers who do not support any relations with their daughters have the right and are not restricted from neglecting their daughters’ spiritual needs. While mothers are fighting to provide their daughters with continuous material and moral support, fathers may not display any willingness to develop closer ties with them. The law cannot make fathers maintain close relationships with their children; nor can the law push fathers to realizing the importance of participation in their daughters’ lives. “Disciplining the child, choosing and providing for the child’s education, being responsible for the child’s property, and allowing confidential information about the child to be disclosed” (Archard 30) – all these responsibilities are laid on mothers, when fathers leave. The father’s absence and his unwillingness to maintain close relationships with his daughter will negatively impact the girl’s moral status. From the legal viewpoint, separation and divorce will officially deprive a young girl of a chance to have father; as a result, she will appear completely unprotected in the face of the most serious life issues.
The fact that parents are not legally responsible for their separated daughters generates a set of legal, ethical, and moral concerns. On the one hand, the law voluntarily deprives a young girl of her natural right to be loved by her father. By signing off their parental rights, parents do not think of the consequences of their legal actions and the impact, which separation will produce on their daughters’ lives. On the other hand, family law and legal obligations will never grant us with our father’s love, and if our fathers are not able to fulfill their natural obligations, they should be better relieved of this “fatherhood” burden (Archard 80). The state should develop and implement a set of clear criteria for determining whether the parent is really unprepared or physically unable to support his daughter. The father unwilling to reside with his daughter may have numerous reasons for such unethical conduct: he might be involved into a new type of relationship that may prevent him from seeing his child; he may be physically or mentally unable to fulfill his parental obligations; or he may be simply unwilling to recognize the fact of being father. Regardless the particular situation, daughters will need to adapt to the situation where they have no one to rely on, except for their mothers and themselves. The law does not work to support daughters in their striving to restore close family relationships with their fathers.
Objectively, mothers are able to fulfill the majority of obligations and responsibilities parents have toward the child. Mothers are able to work, earn, support their children and promote their interests further in life. Laws do not consider fathers to be directly responsible for their daughters’ wellbeing; rather, their parental responsibilities are limited to a set of biological functions (or better, gender and sexual reflexes) that result in the emergence of a new life, and end as soon as the child is born (Montaque 16). By giving fathers unlimited freedom and the chance to voluntarily distance themselves from their natural parental obligations, the law shrinks the notion of father to a small biological concept, where fathers are used to maintain the continuous human evolution but are not responsible for what happens to children as they grow up. I think that this problem extends far beyond traditional legal domains; and it should be re-evaluated through the whole complex of motivational issues, which may change fathers’ attitudes towards their daughters. Termination of father rights is a painful experience, and fathers should realize the importance of being with their daughters, when they enter the most responsible and the most difficult phases in their lives.
Fathers who have voluntarily terminated their relationships with their daughters are legally obliged to support their children materially; however, the law does not require that fathers love them. Material issues can be resolved, but they cannot improve the quality of relationships between fathers and their daughters. Those living separately may view material support as an effective substitute for parental love, but they may be deeply wrong in the way their life priorities are evaluated. Under the current law, community and future generations may face the need for shifting the emphases from legal to moral and spiritual aspects of father-daughter relationships, but the time will pass before fathers realize the wide scope of their responsibilities toward their daughters. The law may become the foundation for reconsidering father attitudes towards daughters. The law may become the source of reliable and unbiased knowledge about the roles fathers play in their daughters’ lives – roles that go far beyond primitive biological reactions. Fathers should be provided with a complex vision of their obligations, as well as the opportunities they have to make their daughters’ dreams real. Material support required by law is not the ultimate source of moral and spiritual satisfaction for daughters. Law is a reliable basis for developing innovative approaches to parental roles in families, and while fathers do not display any willingness to change their attitudes toward their daughters, the law may help them adopt new approaches and philosophies in their closer relationships with children.
Fathers have the right to voluntarily relinquish themselves from their natural parental responsibilities. The problem is in that daughters cannot rely on law when seeking fathers’ support. The law shrinks the role of father to a biological subject, but laws can also become the starting point for changing father attitudes towards their daughters. Even when fathers and daughters live separately, the law may provide the basis for restoring their relationships. Currently, fathers and daughters who live separately do not have any legal stimuli for maintaining high quality of their relationships; that is why a clear set of criteria should be developed to determine whether fathers are able to fulfill their parental obligations, and whether daughters deserve to grow and mature in the balanced social environment.
Archard, D. Children: Rights and Childhood. Routledge, 2004.
Montaque, P. “The Myth of Parental Rights.” Social Theory and Practice, vol. 26 (2000): pp.