The more I see of the world, the more I feel that good parents are hard to come by. They’re out there – parents who know that LOVE is spelled T-I-M-E, and devote themselves wholeheartedly to doing the best they can for their children, come what may. They’re just not quite as commonplace as I believed growing up.
I’ve had a number of good role models, and hope someday to do half so well. Sorry, Role Models, but this post is not about you. It is not about me. It is about Other Good Parents who have come under attack, particularly in regards to homeschooling.
I’ve had a lot of discussions over the last several years about homeschooling. Some people I’ve talked to are hard-core advocates who can’t imagine raising children any differently. Some people feel that it has merit, but doesn’t provide adequate preparation for the Real World. Others couldn’t care less. Let’s sweep our personal feeling about homeschooling’s merit, or lack thereof, into a corner for a few minutes. I may address that in another post, but that is not – directly – the subject here.
Regardless of what you or I feel about homeschooling, I firmly believe that in most cases, homeschooling parents are Good Parents doing their best for their kids. (This is not a statement about non-homeschooling families, just an observation about homeschooling families I’ve encountered.) These parents invest valuable resources – time and money among them – into their most precious “possessions” – their children – when they could take an easier path. They work hard to do right by their children.
Sadly, not everyone appreciates the trouble parents go through in their homeschooling troubles. I’m overlooking the hassles and irritations that are experienced in the States. While annoying, these can be overcome. No, the driving force behind this post is far more serious.
In the States, some of our most important rights are documented and under Constitutional protection. We have an acknowledged – albeit, sometimes grudgingly acknowledged – right to homeschooling. That is not the case worldwide. In some countries it is illegal. At times, parents in these countries feel that it is in their children’s best interests to homeschool regardless – with tragic consequences.
I’m thinking right now of the Johansson family, whose son was seized four years ago as the family was about to leave the country (Sweden). He was taken from the plane itself; his parents haven’t had contact with him since he was seven.
Another family, the Romeikes, left Germany in 2008. Targeted in their home country, they hoped to homeschool in America free from persecution. The government here in the States seems to be doing its level best to deny them asylum – the initial decision to grant asylum was challenged and overturned. A recent ruling declared that since public school attendance is mandatory in Germany, they were not singled out, and so no persecution occurred.
As the Romeikes battle the courts, I wish them the best of luck. If they’re forced to return to Germany, their parental rights are in jeopardy. Homeschooling families of Germany face fines and risk losing custody of their children.
Frustrated as I am that our government system is so fixated on rules and definitions that they would turn a blind eye to this family’s suffering – particularly considering the lax attitude toward illegal immigrants and considering that this family came to this country by legal means – I am infuriated by the above definition of “persecution.”
According to the court, enforced compulsory attendance laws applied to everyone isn’t persecution because the same standard is in place for everyone.
Forgive me if I wax emotional – I feel very strongly about this. I’m not trying to be melodramatic – this is how I view the above definition. Feel free to respectfully disagree.
During World War II, the same standard was in place for conquered countries in Europe: the “desired” Aryan population. Nobody could reasonably argue that Jews and other groups, despite the uniform standard, were anything but persecuted.
In the 1800s, members of the LDS church were also targeted. There was an extermination order given against them in Missouri that wasn’t rescinded until 1976. There was a uniform standard in place in this instance, as well: a standard opposition against members of that particular religion. They were free to change, of course, and the persecution would stop. But that is the nature of persecution – you may act however you like, so long as it isn’t in opposition to the people in charge.
If persecution is defined by whether or not it has universal enforcement, than a dictatorship must be the highest form of rule. Even the most stringent and extreme requirements could be painted as “fair” simply because they are pervasive.
The idea that children could be removed from the home for such a reason – not for abuse or neglect, but for an abundance of nurture and care – is frightening. The notion that the government would turn on such parents is chilling. If parents are discouraged from being the best they can, what will become of such a society when the children grow up? What kind of parents can they be, whose parents were restrained from investing fully in them? Or who were torn from their families because their parents wished to prepare them for life as well as they knew how?
You can disagree about the value of homeschooling. This isn’t really about homeschooling. This is about parental rights. Do parents have the right to decide what is best for their children, or does the country they live in have the right to remove children from parents when the parents are only acting in the children’s best interest? Should Good Parents be punished for trying their hardest to raise Good Children in the best way they know how?