Over the weekend, I spent a few hours with the older gentleman I know. His wisdom is exceptional. And I’m always prepared to hear what is on his mind. As usual, he engaged me in a thought provoking conversation that may cross the boundaries of political correctness. At the same time, it is a valuable conversation I would like to share.
He started with the following: It is a parent’s job to prepare their children for life. When they are negligent in that job, the child could grow up to be a disadvantaged adult. And the child may not have the means and wherewithal to make up the difference. In the future, will children be able to sue their parents for this negligence? Sound farfetched. Consider the following.
The average weight for a newborn is 7.5 pounds. The average weight for a 5’9″ adult male is around 170 pounds. The average weight for a 5’4″ adult female is about 115 pounds. If a boy and girl of average height reach the weight of 170 and 115 pounds respectively by age 10 year, who is responsible for their overweight bodies? What are the repercussions?
If you were to say the children are responsible for eating too much, that would let the parents off the hook. When you have a child, you assume fiduciary responsibility for that child’s physical and emotional well-being. Furthermore, as a parent, you are responsible for preparing your children for life as an adult. While ensuring they receive a formal education is one aspect, physical health can be detrimental to an individual’s future.
While the US enforces political correctness, in that we are not supposed to condemn others for disabilities, race, gender or physical appearance, discrimination is widely practiced by the majority of people. For example, the above-mentioned overweight girl could easily become a 5’4″ adult at 200 pounds. At that weight and height, she could easily become the victim of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, depression, etc. Some people may discriminate against her in job interviews. Her dreams of being a professional athlete would have died on the vine. And her choice of a spouse would most likely be limited. That is a short list of her disadvantages.
If a parent has the fiduciary responsibility of preparing a child for a successful future, it would seem the parents failed. The girl above would incur many health care expenses and opportunity costs for job and spouse prospects. Are parents liable for those extraneous expenses and losses? If so, does that mean children will one day be able to sue their parents for parental malpractice – negligence?
Hopefully the world does not come to that. At the same time, there should be a wake up call for people considering having children. No parent has the right to bring a child into the world if they are not prepared to give the child normal advantages, like great health, emotional stability, knowledge through education and experience, etc. While it can be advantageous to have a child explore the world at a young age, it is not necessary. It is important for a child to have working knowledge of self, communication and physical health. What advantages will you give your children?