LC: 7. RIGHTS OF PARENTS
Members who are parent(s) or guardian(s) of children in the Family have the right to:
A. Spend regular time with their children that reside in the same Home with them.
Parent time and family day are requirements listed in the Required Meetings and Activities, G. and K. This is to ensure that parents living in the same Home with their children get to spend time with them on a regular basis.
We're very busy most of the time, but we try to see Davidito at least one hour a day. He likes to see us and know that we still love him, and one hour a day we sit here reading him Bible stories or something (ML #687:19).
B. Live on the same premises as their children, unless:
1. The parents are separated or divorced, and residing apart, due to marital problems.
2. One parent chooses to live apart from their children in order to pursue a specialized ministry or calling, providing the other parent is in agreement and remains with the children.
a) Both parents can live apart from their children if they are members of World Services and there is a suitable guardian for the children.
3. Their teen, age 14 or 15, desires to live in another Home and their resident parent(s) are in agreement.
Parents have the right to have their offspring under the age of 18 live in the same Home as they do, if they wish. Those 16 and 17 have the Right of Mobility only if they have permission from at least one of their parents. (See Right of Mobility, A. 1. b), for rules governing 16- and 17-year-olds.) Those 14 and 15 do not have the Right of Mobility. Nevertheless, if they express the desire to live in another Home, and their resident parent(s) gives permission, they may do so; providing the receiving Home is also in agreement, of course.
A parent can choose to live apart from his or her children if involved in some specialized ministry or calling that would necessitate their living apart from their children, but they can't be required to live apart. There may be times when one parent may need to be away from his or her mate and children in order to fulfill some mission or calling from the Lord, such as serving in a dangerous or distant mission field, or one which would be unsuitable for children. Or the parent may have gifts and talents that are needed in a special situation, such as a Service Home which for some reason would not be able to receive children. In such cases, the decision to live apart from their children would be made by the parent, in consultation with their mate and, if possible, with their children.
The only exception to this is if the parents are permanently separated and have worked out a custody arrangement between themselves, and one parent may not be living with some, or any, of their children. In such a case, one parent can't demand to live with the children that are in the custody of the other parent. Marital separations are covered more fully in the Permanent Marital Separation Rules.
In the rare event that both parents are away from their underage children for any significant length of time, they should give written permission to someone in the Home to act as the temporary guardian in their absence, authorizing them to decide in case of emergency medical matters.
Every parent who has a child in our Family had either better be in the Family and have the child with them.--Or, if the child is temporarily staying with others, they'd better have a written legal document of some kind showing that the family that is keeping the child has written legal permission to have him! (ML #2496:71.)
C. Be consulted and agree to any disciplinary action for Charter infractions committed by their resident children.
Children under the age of 16 are legally under the jurisdiction of their parent(s) or guardian(s), and it is the right and responsibility of the parent(s) or guardian(s) to require their child to abide by the Charter. This being the case, failure on the child's part to live by the Charter would result in the child being disciplined in accordance with the discipline rules by the parents or others with the agreement of the parent(s) or guardian(s).
D. Be kept informed of the location, have a current address and/or telephone number, and have contact with their children who do not reside in the same Home as the parent(s).
Parents who have children that live in other Homes, cities or countries have the right to know where they are and to have contact with them.
E. Be kept informed, on a regular basis, of the spiritual, physical and educational well being of their children under the age of 18.
1. For parent(s) residing with their children, "regular basis" is determined by a simple majority vote of the Home.
2. For parent(s) not residing with their children, "regular basis" is not less than once during every three-month period.
Parents are entitled to know the physical, spiritual and educational well being of each of their children, and they should be informed of such on a regular basis. If they live in the same Home as their children, this is unlikely to be a problem as they will be living with their children and will regularly see and talk with those caring for and teaching their children, if they are not doing it themselves. They will already be having regular parent time and family days, and they will be attending the required childcare/parenting meetings. For those parents living in the same Home with their children, the minimum "regular basis" is decided on by the Home's voting members.
Parents residing with their children can at any time, of course, ask the child's teacher or caregiver about their children's welfare and progress. However, certain activities such as going over the children's records and discussing their schoolwork would probably be scheduled by the Home during Childcare/Parenting meetings. Hopefully, with smaller Homes, it will be easier for the parents to be in touch and kept well informed on how their children are doing, since many of them will likely be playing a larger role in the care of their children.
If the child lives in a different Home than the parents, the parents must be informed of the overall state of their child no less than once every three months. (See Child Progress Report Form in Appendix B.) This is the minimum; it can't be less than that, but it can be more if the parent works out a mutually acceptable arrangement with those in the Home where the child is living. It would be desirable for the child and parents to correspond with each other once a month, if possible.
If the teen or child is going through a difficult period, or in the case of a serious sickness or accident, we would, of course, encourage more frequent communication with the parents, if possible, to gain their needed prayer, support and counsel.
F. Receive sufficient assistance, within the abilities, resources and available manpower of the Home in which they reside, in the physical and spiritual care and education of their children. "Sufficient assistance" is determined by a two-thirds majority of the Home's voting members.
Every Family parent is entitled to receive help from their Home in the physical, spiritual and educational care of their children. The Home must decide, by a two-thirds majority, what constitutes "sufficient assistance" in their Home, and the extent of the help that is possible for the Home to provide. For example, the parent might feel that sufficient assistance is having someone take care of their children full-time and that they are only responsible for them at Parent time. The Home may look at it much differently. It is up to the Home's voting members to discuss and determine what assistance they can give.
Sufficient assistance might not be equal in every case. For example, someone who is on full-time outreach or is away from the Home on a road trip may need more childcare help than the person who is at the Home all day. Or a single parent may be assigned a teen helper to assist them during Parent time, or a Parenting teamwork situation worked out for them, if possible. Each situation will have to be worked out by the Home, and in doing so, the main consideration must be the welfare of the children.
Though our children, of course, have only one set of natural parents, they can have many spiritual parents. All of us can play some part in their spiritual parenting. ... Once we establish that these children belong to all of us and God holds us all responsible, regardless of who physically bore them, we'll have a little more to work with, a few more people to work with, and we won't be giving all the responsibility--physical, intellectual and spiritual--to only the flesh parents. ... Everyone needs to take the responsibility for our children, we all need to be assigned specific responsibilities for our children (ML #2670:14,15,30).
If the parents are busy and they've got a lot of other responsibilities and they can't be taking care of their own children all the time, they should have workers to help them, like we do (ML #688:25).
1. Special attention must be paid to the needs of single parents and their children, so that the children of single parents are treated with the same care as children having two parents.
The Bible says, "Honor widows that are widows indeed. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the World" (1 Timothy 5:3; James 1:27).
Our single parents, especially single moms, are our widows. Many of them no longer have their mates for one reason or another, and that in itself is a traumatic experience. Besides overcoming their loss, and the battles that accompany it, they must adjust to being a single parent, which is very difficult.
Other women are single moms because they bravely, lovingly, sacrificially and willingly shared with either outsiders or Family men during the FFing days. They laid down their lives for the brethren. They obeyed the Lord, gave of themselves, and were blessed with a precious child. As with all of our Family children, we are all responsible to help care for them, and in the case of single parents we must do all we can to help make it easier for them to raise their children.
Being a single parent is difficult in that you must be both father and mother to your children. Of course, it is much easier to be a single parent in the Family than out of the Family, as within the Family you have a great deal more help and support. But even with that help it is still difficult. Homes must therefore pay special attention to the needs of single parents and their children. The Home must do its best to make sure their need for assistance and additional care is met. This may mean finding someone in the Home who would be willing to assist as a parenting teamworker, who actively helps with the care of the children, and who the single parent can counsel and work together with in the care of the children.
A single parent is one who has children residing with them, but who does not have a mate living with them. Those who have children whose mate is away most of the time should receive the same consideration as a single parent.
Single parents whose mates are not in the Family might want to consider giving legal guardianship to a Family couple in case of their death or debilitating injury.
It is past time to commit ourselves to our dear Family, our dear single mothers and single fathers, and all of our dear children who need our help, our time, our attention, our love, our affection (ML #2953:6).
G. Make the decision on medical matters concerning their children.
When a child is sick, the parents are to make the decision as to whether medical help is needed or not. The Home teamwork can counsel with the parents, and the Home can pray and hear from the Lord about the matter, but in the end, the parents are the ones who have the final say. As voting members, we are assuming that 16- and 17-year-olds will make their own decisions regarding medical matters which affect them. However, in areas where this is not legal, if the teens are living away from their parents they should have a letter granting an adult member of the Home the authorization to act in place of the parents in case of any medical emergency.
In a case where the parents are living away from their child and the child requires serious medical attention, the guardians should make the immediate decision but should inform and counsel with the parents at the earliest possible opportunity, and continue to keep them informed.
H. Determine the amount of contact their children will have with non-Charter relatives.
It is up to the parents to decide if and how much contact their children under the age of 16 will have with their non-Charter relatives. "Contact" covers both visitation and correspondence.
I. Read the unsealed correspondence of their children under the age of 16, with the exception of letters to Maria and Peter or to their continental office.
The parents can read the correspondence of their minor child if they wish. This doesn't mean they must read it, but that they reserve the right to. This covers both incoming and outgoing mail. However, the parents should not open their children's mail, but can ask the child if they can read it either before the letter has been sealed or after it has been opened. The exception to this is if the child is writing directly to the continental office or to Mama and Peter. Such letters should be confidential, if the child so desires.
Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family