Licensing Parents: Can We Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect?

By Jack C. Westman | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
The Benefits to Society
of Competent Parenting

The institution of the family is decisive in determining not only if a person has the capacity to love another individual but in the larger sense whether he is capable of loving his fellow men collectively. The whole of society rests on this foundation for stability, understanding and social peace.

-- MARTIN LUTHER KING, Jr., 19651

I would live nowhere else than in the United States if given a choice. I treasure the freedom of opinion and action that our democratic republic allows. At the same time, every day in my work as a psychiatrist I see people who use that freedom to make choices that are contrary to their own interests and that harm other people. I am keenly aware of the heavy responsibility placed on each one of us to make wise choices when our behavior affects other people.

Our freedom of choice as adults places a high premium on competent parenting. This is because we are free to make choices even when our choices are contrary to our own interests. But when parents make choices that are contrary to their own interests and to the interests of their children, they damage themselves and other people -- their children. As a result their children have difficulty becoming contributing

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