Who ‘owns’ your children?

Bonnie Willis's picture

By temperament and educational training, I’ve learned not to over-react when I hear something second-hand. There are always two sides of every story. Until you go to the primary source, you truly don’t know what really happened (my children have taught me this first hand).

Such was the case, when I heard about a commercial by cable channel MSNBC host, Melissa Harris-Perry which advocates that “your children don’t belong to you.”

As a mother of five, the sound bite alone drew my attention and raised red flags, but I decided I would reserve judgment until I saw the ad for myself. And then I did. Here’s an excerpt:

“We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children. Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children. So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.”

On the one hand, it can be argued that this ad is attempting to engage the audience in a proposition that if our government “invests” so heavily in the education (and other services) of children, and as a society we agree that children are our most precious resource, shouldn’t we consider the idea that we, as a society, bear a collective responsibility and as such a sense of shared ownership for our nation’s children?

When we entertain the notion that a child does not “belong” to a parent, but to the collective, we acknowledge our connectedness — not just economically but socially as well.

This kind of reasoning may seem novel and intriguing, but it is hardly new. Speculations as to the state’s/government’s role in educating and raising children have been around since the days of ancient philosophers like Aristotle and Socrates. However, they have reemerged and gained traction in the 19th and 20th century under Marxist philosophy and are evident today.

On the other hand, and from a pragmatic standpoint, any manager will tell you that a single person has to take ownership of a team or a project so that someone can be held accountable for decisions, especially if something goes wrong.

A true leader will tell you that the buck stops with him/her, but if there is success, they are more than happy to share it. The same can be applied to children.

For myself, I am ready to admit that as a girl, there were many factors that influenced the way I thought and believed. However, it is my mother, the woman who raised me, who had ownership of me, who believed in me, and in the most significant of ways, helped to define who I am today — not “the collective.”

“The collective” will not spend its lunch hour finishing up the wings of your costume, then drive to your school, and pin them on you right before the school assembly so you can win first prize in the costume contest.

“The collective” will not stay up with you until 1 a.m. finishing up the science project you worked on all semester and have it earn the honor of representing your school for the county fair. And “the collective” will not come and hug you close, wipe the tears from your eyes, and stare at you with such conviction that it almost becomes your own, and say, “Don’t worry about what those popular girls say. God made you a beautiful and brilliant little girl.”

So, “ownership” of children is a privilege and responsibility of parents, not the collective. Unfortunately, the media does not highlight the countless stories of heroic and selfless parents, like my mother, and you, who in taking full ownership of their children, shoulders both the burdens and the joys that only come from parenting.

Rather than honor such parents, the media continuously churns out stories of parental abuse and recklessness and thereby undermine this foundational unit of our society and provide anecdotal evidence that the ownership of children should be removed from parents to “the collective.”

So, let me be explicit here — I encourage you to go online and view this ad for yourself and then call and email MSNBC and let them know how you feel about “the collective” taking ownership of your children.

[Bonnie B. Willis is co-founder of The Willis Group, LLC, a Learning, Development, and Life Coaching company here in Fayette County and lives in Fayetteville along with her husband and their five children.]

PTC Observer
PTC Observer's picture
Joined: 04/23/2007
Child ownership

Ms. Willis is always insightful.

I believe that children are a gift from God and we should honor them and nurture them to adulthood by teaching them the ways of the prophets. It is wholly impossible for the State (the collective) to own a person of any age because we are born free and we remain free even if imprisoned by collectivist thought.

The fact that there are those in our society that incrementally rob us of our lives, freedom and property by establishing institutions, then claiming "collective rights" through them is Orwellian. This extends to education, healthcare, environment and energy just to name a few. We will continue to hear calls for control of all aspects of our lives using state institutions as the excuse for such actions. Our lives and our children's lives are at risk and immediate threat. The Leviathan is the beast that eats at the heart of our people's freedom.

Enjoy your 24 oz. soft drink now because you won't be able to buy it someday.

ginga1414's picture
Joined: 09/01/2008
How Very True, Bonnie

Bonnie Willis never disappoints me with her very insightful articles. So, here I am, once again, standing in her amen corner.

S. Lindsey
S. Lindsey's picture
Joined: 12/31/2008
It takes a Village..Idiot

to believe that the Community owns your kids..

Davids mom
Davids mom's picture
Joined: 10/30/2005
Child ownership? Child care?

Child ownership? Child care? Interesting terms. My child physically came through me - but I don't own him, nor does anyone else! I care for my child, I love my child, I want the best for my child.

I grew up on a street where neighbors 'cared' for me/ but in no way did they feel they owned me. It was understood that my parents were responsible for my welfare - but I felt safe on my street (in my community) because my neighbors watched out for me and my friends.

Thriving communities throughout history have succeeded because they realized that the children of the community represented the future of that community. No one in this country can 'own' a human being - unless some form of slavery is practiced. Americans do care for their children. . . they don 't own them. It is caring to want our (America's) future to have the best education, life giving health - mental and physical, in order to be able to function in a global society. In my lifetime, Russia developed Sputnik. Our government, with the cooperation of our educators made sure that the future of our country would have the education in order to go to the moon! Cooperative effort of the American community does not fit the definition of a 'communist' collective. I hope that American communities continue to 'care' for their children by working together to insure the health and the safety for American children. Well monitored safety nets should continue to exist to make sure that the American family can survive 'bad' times. Why? because Americans care for one another - slavery/ownership is no longer practiced.

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