A License for Parenthood | Teen Ink

A License for Parenthood

September 2, 2016
By taylor_lucille GOLD, Knoxville, Tennessee
taylor_lucille GOLD, Knoxville, Tennessee
14 articles 2 photos 14 comments

Favorite Quote:
If your a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If your a singer, everything looks like a song. -Steven Tyler

In 2005, a woman murdered her 6- week old daughter by putting her in a microwave for over 2 minutes. This case is a clear example of the fact that not everyone is fit to be a parent. Not everyone has the mental stability, patience, and knowledge that is required to raise a child. A person also should not be able to become a parent at whatever age they seem fit. Parenthood is not an easy task, and the fact that every child is different does not help. What if there was a way to eliminate the “unfit” parents? It is true that parenting is a natural thing and humans are born with the basic knowledge of parenting. But some individuals are problematic in that they have mental disabilities or drug addictions that would not allow their children to be raised properly. Parents should have to prove their mental and physical ability to raise children. If people are required to get licenses and permits to drive a car, get married, own a gun, run a day care center, etc., why shouldn’t they be required to obtain a license before becoming a parent? These permits ensure the safety of the permit owner and everyone around them and that basic knowledge of the task is known. Procreating in a world already overcrowded should not be taken as a "natural" right, but as a privilege reserved to those who can prove they are responsible parents by passing both theory and practical tests.
Discipline is a highly debated topic in the United States today. But there is a huge difference between spanking your child lightly with an open hand, and aggressively hitting your child with a belt hard enough to leave bruises or marks. If a parent’s way of disciplining their child causes serious physical or emotional harm, it is considered child abuse. There are also many unwanted children who are born and abused for the rest of their lives. Unwanted children become prone to abuse, learn abuse, and grow under abuse, which ensures future abusers in society.
Take a personal situation for example. One of my family members is very irresponsible for her age. She is twenty-seven, currently married to a man in jail, has two daughters, eight and three, from two different men, and is expecting a third child from a third man, whose father is unknown. She works at night, sleeps all day, and gets random people to watch her kids. She treats her oldest daughter very unfairly; she is unable to talk to her mother without being verbally assaulted. If she does not do what her mother says right when she asks, she will get physically punished. Her youngest daughter gets treated like an angel and gets rewarded no matter what she does. I feel that this is an excellent example of why we need a parenting license. Clearly, she is unfit to be a parent. The question is what to do with the parents that go above and beyond disciplining their child? A child abuse report is made every ten seconds and every year more than three million reports of child abuse are made in the United States, involving more than six million children. Parents may or may not mean to abuse their children, but having a law requiring a parenting license is one step to eliminate these child abuse statistics.
In the United States, a baby dependent on drugs is born every 19 minutes. Shortly after these babies are born, they go into a withdrawal from these drugs. The newborns’ first experience in this world is days of agony including vomiting, diarrhea, fevers, respiratory distress, sensitivity to noise and light, and sometimes even seizures. This happens when the mother uses drugs such as methadone or opioids while the fetus is still inside of her body. Usually when this happens, Child Protective Services are informed, and the child is immediately taken away from the mother. Although this is true, some cases slip through the cracks, and the child is sent home to the mother who is struggling herself to fight addiction. When this happens, quite often, the child is either suffocated, physically abused, drowned, or dies due to ingesting toxic doses of whatever drug the mother is on. One case described a mother who was high on methadone and put her newborn child into the washing machine with a load of laundry. The amount of infant deaths related to maternal and paternal drug abuse since 2010 are 110. One hundred and ten infants have died due to their own mothers and fathers killing them while being high on drugs.
In 2003, the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act was adopted by Congress. It calls on states to protect these babies born to drug-addicted mothers. Health care providers are supposed to alert child protection authorities; then, social workers take on the responsibility of ensuring that the children are safe after it is sent home. However, at least 41 states have laws or policies that do not require doctors to report every case that falls into their hands, or have policies that are confusing to doctors and child protection workers. If parents were required to take a drug test and obtain a parenting license before becoming pregnant, the crisis could possibly be averted. These children would not be born dependent on drugs, and they would definitely not be sent home to mothers and fathers who are battling a drug problem themselves. 

Considering these benefits, a parenting license is a good thing. By being strict on the people who have kids, or want to have kids, it will lessen the amount of children who are put up for adoption, reduce amounts of child abuse, and will lower birth defect rates. The people who will have kids will be committed to them and raise them correctly. There are also many unwanted children who are either born into unfit homes, put up for adoption, murdered, or abused.  Children do not get to choose who their parents are and if they get stuck in a home that is not fit for a child, there is nothing the child can do. Others might argue that it is a person’s right to have a child. They are correct, but licenses are not taking that right away. Licenses would simply make sure that every child would be born into a good, prepared and safe family.
The average pregnancy rate in the United States is 57.7 pregnancies per thousand girls. In Louisiana, there was sixty-nine pregnancies per thousand girls in 2010, and 39.2 births per thousand girls in 2013. These statistics would drop immensely if people needed a license to be a parent. Humans must take responsibility for their actions. Procreating without responsibility is one of the most dangerous downfalls of the human race these days. Uneducated parents procreate without means to educate their children, and that causes the child to be a burden on society. The way a child is raised highly affects the way he/she will act in the future; their childhood is the basis of their lives. Babies come into this world relying on their parents to care for them and teach them right from wrong. A responsible parent would know how to care for their child and teach them. Children brought up by irresponsible parents pose a serious threat to the child and everyone that the child comes in contact with later on in life. This is just as dangerous as having a gun owned by an irresponsible owner. Requiring a person pass a simple examination that would ensure the life and wellbeing of our future generations could be the solution. If people were required to obtain a parenting license, it would only benefit everyone in the future.

The author's comments:

This is one of four essays that I was required to write for my English 101 class. This topic was a persuasive essay. I chose to persuade the possibility of requiring a license to be a parent.

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