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Philosophical Foundations of Children's and Family Law$
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Elizabeth Brake and Lucinda Ferguson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198786429

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198786429.001.0001

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Parental Control Rights

Parental Control Rights

(p.209) 10 Parental Control Rights
Philosophical Foundations of Children's and Family Law

Scott Altman

Oxford University Press

Parents typically direct many aspects of their children’s lives and often believe that they deserve protection from interference by governments and third parties. Justifications for such parental control rights sometimes rely on the interests of children or of society. But they can also rely directly on parental interests. This paper considers whether parental control rights can be justified based on parental interests. It first considers two parental interests sometimes put forward as warranting parental control rights: an interest in intimacy and an interest in acting as a fiduciary. The first fails as a justification for parental rights because intimacy is unlikely to be undermined by most intrusions. The second fails because it misunderstands the nature of fiduciary roles. The paper then considers an alternative parental interest in nurturing, counselling, and educating. This interest requires both authenticity and discretion to play a meaningful role in a parent’s life and facilitating this interest warrants protecting parental control rights.

Keywords:   paramountcy principle, best interests, children’s rights, childhood, social construct, vulnerability, parental rights, equality, equal moral consideration

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