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Should People Be Required To Obtain A License Before Becoming Parents?

By       Message Bobbi Leder     Permalink
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We have to obtain a license before getting married and driving a motor vehicle, yet we aren't required to get a license to become parents. How does that make sense when raising a human being should be the most important job in the world? It seems that having children isn't always a decision that is well thought out, and in some cases it just happens by accident and people choose to bring life into the world knowing full well they are not capable of taking care of that life -- I guess they assume the government, teachers, or family will pitch in and do their job for them.

Of course there are extremely responsible and loving parents out there, and there are people who would make wonderful parents but for reasons beyond their control they won't ever achieve that goal, but I'm talking about people who have children and raise them irresponsibly which inevitably affects not only society, but scars those children for life. I don't know if it's a common theme in today's society due to hectic lifestyles but it seems that kids are gaining more and more control of their parents and less control of their own behavior.

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Children seem to be able to manipulate their parents because they know working parents often feel guilty and therefore are more willing to buy their kids high priced technical gadgets to make up for their lack of quality time. Of course it makes sense that at least one parent has to work (outside of the home) to earn money to afford their house, their vehicle, gas to power that vehicle -- which is becoming more and more expensive by the day -- the utility bills, food, clothes, and everything else that comes along with being a responsible human being. But then you have to add in the cost of raising a child which often makes it too difficult for one person to stay at home, so the other parent is forced to go out and get a paying job as well.

Now I know there are those couples where both parents are working by choice and somehow have enough money and time for their kids, and are raising responsible, respectful, well behaved children, but this isn't about them. There are also those who are able to afford a nanny to take care of their children; but if the children are turning out well, is that something that should be considered a blemish on their parenting or should they be ashamed that they can't do the job themselves? After all, didn't Hillary Clinton say years ago that it takes a village to raise a child?

I see parents in the grocery store, at the post office and in restaurants that obviously have no control of their kids. They don't teach their kids to say "Please" or "Thank You;" the kids are running around screaming, climbing on restaurant tables, and jumping on the booth seats. I had one experience while dining with a woman and her child where the toddler actually climbed over the table to where I was sitting, grabbed the food from my plate and ate it. The worst part about this story is that the mother said (and did) absolutely nothing. I was appalled and needless to say never ate with them again.

Another time my husband and I were dining a couples' house (along with several other people) where the hosts' children were running around our table screaming and playing ball. How the parents thought this was appropriate behavior for their kids during an adult dinner party is beyond me. I would have thought they would be embarrassed and apologize to their guests, but no, they didn't say a word.

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Children are the next generation of CEOs, Presidents, film makers, teachers and advertising executives, so how do parents today expect their children to grow up with dreams, goals, and a sense of hard work when they seem to let them get away with murder? I know parents who just give their kids money every week calling it an allowance yet the children don't have to actually perform any chores in order to earn that money. How will they learn about finances? Will they think money magically appears out of thin air? Shouldn't parents expect their children to help out around the house and behave well in order to earn their allowance?

When I grew up, I had to shovel the snow in the winter, rake the leaves in the fall, skim the pool in the summer, take the trash to the curb, and walk the dog to earn my $1/week. It taught me the value of a dollar and I as soon as I was old enough to work I got a part time job while still somehow managing to stay on the honor roll, engage in team sports, and spend time with my friends. But kids today just continue to feed off of their parents and no one thinks that perhaps teaching them responsibility is a good idea? Of course not all children and not all parents are like this but it's been my experience as of late.

Crime is on the rise and I suspect it's because it's the easy way out. Why work at the local cinema serving popcorn when you can just steal a car? At the end of the day, it's up to the parents to teach their children to be responsible, respectful, hard working adults who understand the value of money. A parent is supposed to guide, educate and love their children. If they're not prepared to do that, then why bother having kids? People have kids for different reasons and the ones I've heard are pretty sad: "to do my part in populating the world," "because I want someone who loves me," "because it's what society or my family expects of me," "because it's what my spouse wants and I don't want to lose them," and of course there are those who only have children so they can receive the welfare checks -- yes, people still do this.

I personally know only a few people who have had children for the right reasons, and a lot of the ones who don't fall into the above categories have had children to try to save their marriage -which inevitably is a horrible burden to place on a child and a route that rarely works. If your marriage is in trouble, then try to fix it before bringing a child into this world. It's unfair on them that you expect so much of them before they're even born, and then what happens when your marriage fails? Is it the child's fault? What now since you only had the child to save the marriage?

I'm sick of watching the news and learning about people abusing their kids, neglecting them, and leaving them in cars (during the sweltering heat) with the windows rolled up. I just don't understand why these people are having children. Having a child is a gift and parents should treat their children as such. Raising a human takes patience, love, education, compassion, sympathy, and time. If you don't have the time or inclination to spend your weekends reading to your child, teaching them how to ride a bike, going to the zoo, cleaning up dirty hands, or helping with homework then don't do it. Children deserve the best and if you're not prepared to give (the most important job) your all, then leave it to those who are.

There are so many unwanted, neglected and abused children and it saddens me that they were brought into the world by irresponsible people. Often these children grow up with low self esteem, emotional scars, and wind up falling into a life of crime. I know there are also children who go through adversity and wind up better human beings for it; they go on to become psychologists, teachers, and social workers. They go into politics to help change the world, they become successful in whatever field they choose, but that is not the norm. Go into any inner city where kids are growing up with one parent - whom they rarely see and the other one left years ago and never contacts the kids - and see how successful those children become when they turn into adults. Chances are they will just repeat the cycle and wind up becoming what they loathe most: their own parents.

Shouldn't the government make sure that people have the resources available, the knowledge behind them, decent housing (one where there is no mold,) and the time to take care of children before being allowed to become parents? Why is it that when we adopt that we have to go through stringent tests to make sure we are going to be fit parents, yet when it's a biological child no tests are required? Shouldn't a license to become a parent be just as important as a license to drive a car? I think that if parenting was treated with the respect and value that it deserves that it would be done in a way that is more productive to society, and the only way to do that is to make sure people are going to be fit parents before they bring more children into an already overpopulated world.

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To play devil's advocate: Of course there's no test that will predict if people will change, circumstances will change, or illnesses (that might hinder their parenting in the future) will occur, but why start out knowing that someone won't be fit? And then on the flip side someone might not seem like they're going to be a fit parent, yet when their children are born (or as they get older) these parents actually become better people.

People should stop asking those who are child-free why they neither have nor want children, but instead should start to ask those who are thinking about starting a family the serious questions that really matter like: Why do you want to become a parent? Are you financially secure? Do you have health benefits? Do you have the time? Are you willing to change your lifestyle? Do you have a health problem that will interfere with the raising of a child? Are you prepared to be a parent for the rest of your life? Parenting doesn't end when a child becomes 18; the role just changes along the way.

Being a parent is not a right, it is an honor yet so many people seem to think it's no big deal. With so many parents acting irresponsibly, the questions begs, "Should People be Required to Have a License to Parent?"


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Bobbi Leder is a freelance writer. She has been published in magazines and a plethora of web sites. Bobbi is also an Op/Ed writer for a Houston paper and is the Houston Dogs Examiner.

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Should People Be Required To Obtain A License Before Becoming Parents?