To Parent Or Not To Parent


Actor Peter Falk played homicide detective Lieutenant Columbo in each of the American television shows bearing his fictional surname. Throughout nearly six dozen episodes released during four decades beginning in the late 1960’s, Columbo refused to ignore the evidence that did not fit with the “obvious” conclusion unanimously embraced by others at the crime scene. Columbo regularly faced scorn and ridicule which added both headwinds and determination to his effort to ferret out the truth. The littlest detail that did not fit the conventional thinking drove Columbo to dig further to find the truth. Confirmation bias describes the natural tendency to research, recall and rely on the evidence which supports our previously held beliefs and conclusions. Contrary or ambiguous evidence is regularly dismissed or sometimes casually incorporated into our conclusion for which it does not fit! Dr. Missler frequently states, “The only certain barrier to truth is the presumption you already have it.” The Bereans were regarded as nobler than the Thessalonians because they both received the words of Paul and tested them against the Scripture to determine their truth. (see Acts 17:11) Columbo displayed a bit of the Berean by resisting confirmation bias and testing everything he heard until reaching the correct conclusion. And he could always do this in an hour or so!

There is a question posed throughout our public discourse about our children and the evidence presented here points to an answer that is so disturbing that the reader may torture the evidence with a form of confirmation bias. Simply put, “Are our children the children of their parents or the children of their politicians?” From this comes the related issue about who decides what is best for our children — the parents or the collective? Consider the following evidence before answering these questions.

A Kitchener Ontario Canada father was arrested at his child’s school and later strip-searched at the police station because his 4-year old daughter drew a picture of a gun in class.[1] A Seattle parent who exercised her legal right as well as her parental priority in opting out of standardized tests in Seattle wrote the following account:

“During the last period of the day, my daughter was summoned to the vice principal’s office. She waited for about twenty minutes and was then invited into the office. The vice principal informed my daughter that two of her teachers had emailed her earlier in the day to inquire why she was not on the approved list for the carnival because she had outstanding effort grades (all A’s in effort as well as academics). The vice principal then informed my daughter that she may be able to write a letter of appeal, but she would let her know if that was possible by the end of the period. She explained that she had to follow the rules which were that only students excused from the (test) for medical reasons would be allowed to attend the carnival. Students who opted out would not be allowed to go because they did not follow the rules.”[2]

Oregon lawmakers approved an education bill that facilitates parents opting out of state standardized testing by including a requirement to publicize this right and by addressing schools’ ratings affected by high percentages of opting out.[3] This resulted in a letter from Department of Education warning that such a bill would jeopardize 140 million dollars[4] of federal funding. The article claims the “Obama administration officials say testing all students promotes civil rights.” In summary, Common Core standardized tests promote civil rights and parents who regard as best for their child opting out of these tests are complicit in eroding civil rights! Connect that with the current narrative on civil rights which frequent the evening news hours of the main stream media and we realize the power of this argument. Testing is not the only item where State priorities trump parental privileges. A bill in California (similar to current laws in Mississippi and West Virginia) seeks to eliminate the state’s “personal belief” exemption that allows parents to opt out of having their children vaccinated against viruses such as the measles. The only exception allowed by this bill concern medically fragile children for which the vaccination is dangerous.[5] Proponents claim that unvaccinated students pose a threat to vaccinated ones. This argument is self-defeating. It is only valid if the vaccination is ineffective; why else would vaccinated students be threatened? But if it is ineffective, what sense is there in mandating everybody gets the vaccination? Last fall, several news outlets reported on Kevin Wood, a United States Marine who objected to the school assigning his teenage daughter (along with the rest of her class) to write a three-page essay about Islam. When he requested his daughter be excused from this class during this unit, the school issued a no-trespass order against him despite his claims that he made no verbal threats nor devised plans to disrupt the school day on campus.[6] And the list of these sorts of reactions to responsible parents grows daily. Many reading this article are familiar with the horrible fifteen month ordeal experienced by Justina Pelletier and her family when her parents simply relied on a second medical opinion.[7] The growing body of evidence supports a claim that “medical kidnapping” (what a disturbing phrase) is on the rise. “While we don’t yet have the statistics, it sure looks like cases of medical kidnapping are on the rise — cases where fit and loving parents are losing custody of their children because a doctor or hospital wants to make the child’s medical decisions instead. In some cases, it appears the grabs may even be carried out, not for the health interests of the child, but for the research interests of the hospital.”[8]

In 1996, American politician Hillary Rodham Clinton released a book whose provocative title was based on the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.”[9] This prompted another American politician Robert Dole during a speech to say, “With all due respect, I am here to tell you, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child.” And that captures the essence of this tug of war. Does a village raise a child or do parents raise a child?

And this battle rages on in our public schools. This is not an indictment on teachers with noble intentions who struggle to balance their professional judgment and their employers’ (read Federal and State) demands. The educational system is increasingly forcing space between parents and their children and finding ways to insert government and private interests in the resulting vacuum.

British academic Adam Swift opines, “I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally.” At issue is not that some parents through lack of capacity or concern disadvantage their own children; rather that other parents by giving their own child love and attention are disadvantaging the other children! Swift continues, “Evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don’t … is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t.”[10]

Beware the reformers and regulators of today whose mantra goes something like this: “It’s all about the kids!” Superintendent Shane Floyd of the charter school Arise! Academy based in Dayton Ohio was convicted of bribery and other charges along with two school board members. While things were crumbling around him with unpaid vendors and employees’ paychecks bouncing, he glibly stated, “At the end of the day, it’s all about the kids.” This overused phrase masks many more nefarious motives. The adage has never been truer than it is today and especially in education, “The only adults that truly have the backs of children are the parents that are on the backs of their children.” There is an ongoing attack on the family and one of Satan’s wiles (see Ephesians 6:10–20 and especially verse 11) is using the public discourse and the public schools to destroy it. Be a Columbo and don’t ignore the evidence that disrupts what you remember about your days in school.

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”

— Malachi 4:5–6 KJV