It's very important to clarify what rights our Family children have, so that everyone knows exactly what they must do to properly care for them. As Dad said, "Nothing is more important than God's children and their care, for they are His Kingdom!" (ML #315:30). This section covers the rights of those under the age of 16. Although those under the age of 16 do not have the same rights as voting members, it should be understood that as children get older they should be given a greater degree of personal autonomy. For instance, a 12- to 15-year-old child should be given more responsibility and freedom of choice than a 10-year-old, and likewise a 10-year-old greater than a 6-year-old. Once someone reaches age 16, they have the rights of a voting member, which are covered in the Basic Rights of Individual Members, unless specified otherwise in the Charter.

Children under the age of 16 have the right to:

A. Have their spiritual, physical and emotional needs met.

         I think that Sara and Dora have both tried to bring that out in their stories, how much care the children need--not just physical, they can even get along without some of that, but emotional and spiritual care they really need! Children need to know that they're important and that they really are loved and looked up to by somebody, just like everyone! (ML #1396:48.)

B. Be free from abuse of any kind--sexual, physical, spiritual, mental, emotional or psychological.

         We are completely against any kind of child abuse, not only because of the System, but because we love our children, and to harm them in any way would be completely against our principles of love (ML #2835:62).

C. Privately and directly communicate, via mail, without hindrance, with Maria and Peter or their continental office at any time on any matter, and to have their letter sent, or to have the address supplied to them upon request.

D. Have time allotted on a regular basis for the reading of the Bible and Family literature that is appropriate for the child's age.

         I consider that for our children right now, the best education you can possibly get is in the Word, in the Bible and in the MO Letters, and what God has said to us, told us, and prepared us for (ML #1036:43).
         Thank the Lord we have Jesus, the Bible and the Letters as our standard and guideline, and our children can be trained in the way that they should go!... Are you putting the Word and the Lord first in their lives and being an example of this yourself? (ML #1706:26,27.)
         We believe that our children's lives are very precious and therefore we put a special emphasis on teaching and training them in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). ... The education we give them is based and centered on God's Word and Godly principles (Maria #76:15).

E. Engage in evangelism.

         Although it is mandated in the Outreach Rules that those 16 years of age and above witness a minimal number of hours per week, this clause grants the right to all of our children, except those in behind-the-scenes WS exempted Homes, to engage in spreading the Gospel, if they so desire. While children have the right to witness, they cannot be forced to do so against their will. (For more on witnessing with children, please see the Responsibilities of Parents, D.

F. Sufficient time, opportunity and educational materials to receive an adequate education that allows them to become competent in a manner appropriate to their age, ability and aptitude, in the skills of reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, sciences, and other curricular subjects, including practical-life skills.

1. Senior teens (ages 16 and 17) also have this right.
         All of our children have the right to an adequate education that allows them to become as competent as they should be for their age, in a variety of subjects. The definition of "adequate" is "sufficient to satisfy a requirement or meet a need." So they need to have an education that meets the need for them to become competent in these subjects in a manner appropriate for their age. Thus a six-year-old should be educated at least to the proper level for a six-year-old, taking into consideration their ability and aptitude. The
minimum amount of school hours is listed in the Scholastic and Schedule Rules.
         If a child wishes to receive more education in a certain field of study, they may do so if their parents agree. It would be up to the child to explain their desire to the parents, and up to the parents to see if the Home can comply. If not, the parents will have to decide whether they want to move to a Home that can.

         While not considered "children" under the Charter, senior teens also have the right to a sufficient education. They must also fulfill a minimum number of study hours per week, which varies depending on whether they have completed a junior high school curriculum or not. (See Scholastic and Schedule Rules for details.)

         Those 18 and over may also continue their education by means of the CVC program, private study of other educational materials and resources, or outside school, classes or courses. (See Home Life Rules, J.)

         Lord, if we're not taking proper care and education of our children, we're not a very good sample or example to others, and could even be considered worse than an infidel, someone unfaithful to You, if we're unfaithful to our children! (ML #2432:98.)
         You teens in the Family have a wonderful opportunity for vocational training. Many of you have already become secretaries, experts in childcare, expert maintenance men and handymen, video technicians, editors, writers, etc. Many of you have become virtual professionals in many important areas, and become fruitful and fulfilled at your jobs! You have your share of scholastics too, but you can have both scholastics and vocational training, and the right balance between the two (ML #2864:40).

G. Seek to obtain official certification for the schooling they receive, if they desire, and their parents agree, and/or if the parent's desire.

1. Senior teens (ages 16 and 17) also have this right.
         If the child/teen wants to get local testing, such as the GED test in the U.S., which is a high school equivalency test, or whatever testing might be available, so that they can get credit for their home education, then they have the right to do so. If it's not possible for the Home to provide the means for the child to get such testing, then the parents are free to move with the child to another Home that can provide it.

         While not considered "children" under the Charter, senior teens also have the right to obtain official certification for their home education by available testing.
         Those 18 and over may also obtain official certification for their education if they desire or feel it is necessary. As with attending school or outside classes, this is to be approved by the Home in accordance with
Home Life Rules, J.

H. Have regular physical education, exercise and play in accordance with the Get-Out Rules.

         Get out in the fresh air and sunshine daily. I try to make sure everybody, including the children, does the same. We all need a little get-out time, exercise, recreation and happy, playful, just plain fun in the beautiful Creation of God in the garden of God outside! (ML #1362:206.)

I. Reside with their parents, or if their parents are not residing together, with at least one of their parents.

1. Unless the parent(s) have chosen to become members of World Services, in which case the parents must assign a suitable guardian who will assume the Responsibilities of Parents for the child.
         Every Family child has the right to live with their parents, or at least one parent if their parents are not living together, if they wish to, with the exception of the few children who have
both parents in WS. These cases are very rare, as WS generally does not accept couples without also taking in their children. WS generally only accepts those who are childless, or whose children are grown up, or who are separated from their mates; thus the children remain with the other mate.
         There are a few rare cases where both parents, or a single parent, are in WS without their children. In the rare instances where the children can't live with the parents, loving guardians who the children are comfortable with must be provided for the children. Power of Attorney papers must be given to the guardians.
         At any time when a parent is choosing, for whatever reason, whether to live away from his or her children, they should discuss and pray about the situation with their children, so that the children feel a part of the decision and have an understanding of what is going on. In the extremely rare instance of both parents being asked to join WS without the children, the children should be consulted about those being assigned as guardians.
         Any time a guardian is appointed, it should be someone the children love, trust and feel comfortable with. When possible, such guardianship should be made legal.
         In cases where the children do not agree with the parent(s) moving away from them, the parents are free to decide to turn down the position which is being offered to them.
         Although the children have the right to live with at least one of their parents, the children should understand that this does not necessarily mean that they have the right to choose
which parent they live with, as this is decided by the parents, though the views of the children should be sought and taken into consideration. In the case of a permanent marital separation, the parents will decide upon the division of the children, and once that decision is made, then the children will live with their respective parent unless further mutually agreed-upon arrangements are made. Such decisions should take the needs of the children into consideration and should be made in the best interests of the children. (This is covered in more detail in the Permanent Marital Separation Rules.)

         If the parents are going to separate, even a temporary 3-month separation, they need to make sure to wisely and lovingly give some kind of explanation to the children (ML #2339:94).
         In the case of a division of the children between two fit and agreeing parents, both the preference of the children and of each of the parents should be taken into consideration, and if possible an agreement should be reached between all in which both the parents and the children are as satisfied and as well cared for as possible (ML #359:8).

J. Maintain contact with the parent(s) who is not living with them. Each Home should facilitate such contact whenever practical.

1. Each child must be supplied with a current address to which they can send mail to their parent(s).

2. Time must be allotted each month for the child to write his or her parent(s).
         If a child is living apart from his or her parent(s), they have the right to be in contact with them, and if not physically possible, at least by mail. They must know, or have available, an address to write their parents, and must feel the freedom to write them whenever they need or want to. The teamwork and those in the Home must understand that it is the child's right to have contact, and at the very least, be able to write their parents, so they must make time available for the child to do so. If practical and workable, children should be able to visit the absent Charter parent on occasion, though many factors would determine if this were practical.
         If as a parent you are living apart from your children, and your children write you, you should answer their letters, as it assures them of your love.

K. Have regular parent time and family days with their parent(s) and siblings who live on the premises, or with their foster parent(s) or guardian(s), in accordance with Required Meetings and Activities G. and K.
         Children are entitled to Parent time with their parents. If the Home is fulfilling the
Required Meetings and Activities in the "Fundamental Family Rules," then children will be having the needed time with their parents, brothers, and sisters.

         One great advantage our children have is that their parents are able to spend much more time with them than most parents do (ML #2245).
         One thing we do to try to help Techi and David know they're special to us is we have them come in our room together for special fellowship every night (ML #1396:13).
         Besides the common problems that all children experience, most children are bound to have special problems, individual fears and individual worries at some time.--And taking personal time with them is the only way that I know of to let the kids really unburden their hearts, and for you to see where they're at so you can effectively address their problems. How else can you do that, but by spending time with them? If you're going to get good results with your children and really help them get over their problems, you're simply going to have to make such time with them (ML #2631:10).

L. Receive needed medical attention.
         When a child needs medical attention, he has the right to receive it. The decision is to be made by the parent or guardian, in counsel with the child, if age-appropriate (see
Rights of Parents, G.).

Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family