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Should Parents Have a License to Raise Kids?

Updated on August 4, 2016
Sue Adams profile image

Dancer, choreologist (movement notator), author on fitness and health and Fellow of the Benesh Institute at the Royal Academy of Dance.

It does not take actual physical abuse to disqualify as a good parent.
It does not take actual physical abuse to disqualify as a good parent. | Source

You need a mandatory license to drive a car, to be a doctor, build a house, breed cattle. So why can anyone have children without the least education in parenting? Parenting is the most important job of all jobs. It creates humanity.

With today’s lack of supportive family networks, parents and single parents can be left with the daunting task of bringing up children without any help at all from more experienced parents.

Social services are put into place to rescue disaster cases but only after it is too late. Some types of neglect do not brake any laws. Yet as shown in the next true scenario, as a fairly common example, poor little Charlie deserves better parents than Paul and Emma.

A Not so Uncommon Scenario ...

It is eleven o´clock at night. A horror-movie is loudly blasting on TV. Next to the sofa, Charlie (18 months) is asleep in his push-chair, fully clothed. Charlie’s head rests against the metal bar of the push chair. His face is covered in dried up mucus and chocolate. His little feet are strapped in tight socks and shoes, and, from the smell, his bottom has not been changed in a long time. Charlie's parents’ attitude: Why disturb the little sleeping angel? Later, much later, when they themselves will go upstairs to bed, they will take little Charlie with them and plonk him, unwashed, fully dressed, into his cot.


Paul and Emma the delighted parents, sitting on the sofa in an embrace, munching popcorn, are not aware of Charlie’s discomfort. Neither do they seem to realize that Charlie’s subconscious little mind absorbs every signal around him, including the smell of his clothes and the violent noises and flashing lights blasting from the TV. Tomorrow the child will have a nappy rash. He will be irritable, aggressive, and moody. Then Emma will shout at him: “Bad Boy Charlie!”

Bad Boy!

Toddlers cannot be “bad” as they have no notion of deliberate evil mongering like adolescents or adults. When a toddler behaves "badly", as in temper tantrums, they are either expressing frustration at not being understood, or they are moody from an irritation, like a painful nappy rash. So never call a toddler bad because over time, from parents telling them how bad they are, children obey and learn to become bad.

Essentials of Parenting

Comfort, safety and love is all a child needs.
Comfort, safety and love is all a child needs. | Source

Legal Child Abuse

This legal form of child abuse is rampant among isolated first time parents who lack the help of more experienced members of an extended family like aunties and uncles, grandma's and sisters, close friends or relatives who can help bring up their beloved new-born. Had Paul and Emma completed a course and passed a test in basic parenting, they would know better than to leave an unwashed, unchanged child sleeping in front of a blasting TV. They would have learned how to put a child to bed at night for an enjoyable day tomorrow.

Good Night Routine

There is a flow of fresh, outdoor air in the bedroom. The curtains are drawn.

  1. Put the child in the bath and play until s/he wants to get out.
  2. Dry off, put on pajamas and brush teeth.
  3. Allow the child to kiss every one in the house goodnight.
  4. Let the child lead you into the bedroom where it knows you will
  5. Read or tell a story before
  6. Kissing good night.

Softly colored animated musical lights dose the child off to sleep.

Sweet Child

A parent's reward: A healthy, happy sleeping child.
A parent's reward: A healthy, happy sleeping child. | Source

Good Night

Now the child knows that it is fun and safe to go to sleep. Going to sleep is something everybody does every day. The child knows the difference between sleeping and being awake. It is now easier to teach the infant to respect other people when they are asleep.

Don’t get me wrong, Paul and Emma “Love Charlie To Bits!” it's just that they have never been told how to put a child to bed.

“We Love Him To Bits!”

Every parent wants the best for their child. Neglect is often not intentional, just a lack of basic knowledge. Maybe Paul and Emma haven’t taken the trouble to read up about bed-time routines and just follow their basic instinct?

Perhaps they are just lazy and don’t care? Whatever the reason for Paul and Emma’s neglectful behavior may be, just by looking at their laisser-faire and rather dirty lifestyle would never qualify these parents for adopting a child.

Should Adoption Laws Apply to All Parents?

Although the basic requirements for adoption vary from country to country, even from one state to another, the following list of basic criteria provides good guidelines for any couple intending to raise children in a safe, healthy, and caring environment.

Relationship / Marriage

  • A couple should have spent at least three years living together before applying to adopt.

Planned Births

  • Parents must have a desire to have children. Children should not be "accidents".


  • Parents must have sufficient income to look after children.


  • The home an adopted child must have enough space and decent living conditions.


  • Applicants must be certified by a doctor that they are in good physical and mental health. No drug addicts or alcoholics qualify for adopting children.

A Clean Slate

  • A history of convictions and a criminal record must be disclosed and usually disqualify a person from adopting a child.

Give a Child Your Time

  • At least one of the parents has to spend time looking after a young child and can therefore not be in a full-time job.

Involving Children in the Bread Winning Process

It is very sad that so many parents, especially fathers, spend so little time with their children due to work commitments. More often than not a child does not have a clue about where the food comes from that is served at the dinner table every day. The next video exemplifies how work and raising children can sometimes be combined by involving the child to create a win-win situation for both parent and child.

Combining Work with Raising Children

Shoul Parents Have Mandatory License to Raise Children?

Considering that such a law would never pass congress, what other options would you chose?

See results

Ignorance Is Dangerous

Some children brought up by ignorant, unemployed drug addicts and alcoholics become a greater danger to society than a badly driven car. When you apply to adopt a child you are scrutinized to the bone. So why not have a Parenting License?

Because we all know that people would never allow control over their basic right of procreation. I can already see all the “unlicensed births”, those who have no official permission to be alive because their parents didn't have a “Parenting License”. No, a mandatory Parenting License will never be put into place. Maybe it was just worth thinking about?

Give a Child Attention

Attentively listening and learning is one of children's favorite pass times.
Attentively listening and learning is one of children's favorite pass times. | Source

Would You Make A Good Parent?

Hey ho, in the meantime, here is an alternative suggestion I came across:

Would You Make A Good Parent?

You know what they say to prospective parents? They advise people who want to have children to pass these 2 test:

  1. First learn to keep a plant alive for a year in your home.
  2. Then learn to look after a pup or a kitten until it reaches adulthood.

Only then, if you have passed these 2 tests in t.l.c., can you consider yourself a possible candidate for parenthood.

Parenting Support Groups

Diper Drive

Struggling Parents

Teen Problems

Do YOU think a mandatory parenting licence is a good idea?

Any parenting tips? Please leave a comment in the discussion below.


© 2016 JULIETTE KANDO - You may link to this article, but you may Not copy it. Copied content will be reported with a DMCA notice and will be removed.



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    • Jennifer Mugrage profile image

      Jennifer Mugrage 2 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

      Sure, Sue, I agree that good parenting of course leads to many social benefits, with more productive adults, less crime, less strain on social welfare, etc. And even more important than that, better lives for individual children. The question is how best to encourage that without causing even greater evils.

      Educating prospective parents is already, increasingly, being done. For anyone who wants them, there are a bewildering number of parenting books, courses, and seminars. If you have your baby at a hospital (which I think most people do), you are at least given some basic instructions in how to care for a newborn. When you are in labor, before they admit you, they ask if you are safe at home. They do not allow you to leave the hospital without good car seat, properly installed. Pediatricians give advice on feeding, toilet training, and sleep routines whenever you bring your baby or toddler in for a checkup. They also have numerous free one-page brochures in their exam rooms, covering a variety of parenting topics.

      You will say that there are people who fall through the cracks and never get the benefit of these things. Of course there are. For one thing, if you have never had good parenting modeled for you, books, brochures, and brief advice from a doctor are not very helpful. (Parenting is hard enough even if you did have good models, and currently have good mentors!) For another thing, there is no way guarantee that every prospective parent is forced to parent well, without resorting to very invasive, totalitarian measures that (I believe) would ultimately do more harm than good to families and to society as a whole.

      Sometimes a thing is desirable, but can't be brought about by direct action.

      I do agree with you that children thrive best in a quiet, orderly, and loving home, and I also wish that every child could have this. I don't have perfect answer, because it's not a perfect world, but I think the most effective means are moms helping other moms (including help from grandmas), and support and teaching through local religious organizations, like churches and synagogues.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 2 years ago from Andalusia

      You are right Jennifer but screening and educating prospective parents, just like prospective adopters, would that not improve child welfare and put less demand on social services?

    • Jennifer Mugrage profile image

      Jennifer Mugrage 2 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

      You make some excellent points about what is good parenting, but as far as making this a law, I fear a slippery slope. Families' norms differ so much that every parent does some things of which other parents would disapprove. If we apply this law, soon only a select group of wealthy, well-educated, perfectly healthy people will ever be allowed to have children. The next step could be sterilizing the "unfit."

      Also not addressed is that, almost no matter how miserable the household, being removed from Mommy and Daddy is itself a very traumatic experience for young children. Neither are there perfect homes just waiting for these children to be placed in. If removed from a less-than-ideal home, they can look forward to being shuffled through the system for several years, effectively spending those years having NO home.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 4 years ago from Andalusia

      This is so sad, yet could so easily be avoided with a support network of friends, neighbors or family put in place.

    • Sue Bailey profile image

      Susan Bailey 4 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

      I am so glad you had the courage to publish this. I personally know a lone parent - little more than a child herself with two children. one of whom has a rare and serious health condition. She knows all the facts of the health condition and 'loves her babies to bits' but is clueless about keeping the babies and the house clean. She has mental health issues and has a social worker. The pushchair sleeping arrangement you describe happens regularly and the toddler is left wherever and in whatever position he drops. There is regularly conflict in the household and this causes terror and stress to the babies. Stress is one of the triggers of the youngest child's illness along with allergens such as dust, mould spores, dust mites etc. Despite many reports being made by various people to Social Services she will be allowed to continue to drag these children up until such a point as she harms one or both of them physically. No matter the emotional turmoil from constant screaming, shouting and swearing and the trauma of the youngest ones condition being exacerbated on a daily basis. It is criminal to allow young girls like this to have babies. Sorry to be so harsh but that's my opinion. Thank you for this excellent thought provoking hub.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 5 years ago from Andalusia

      Hello GM,

      Well, I think that most people are willing to be parents but without any experience with babies and children, it is a daunting task. Children are very resilient. Most first-borns grow up through trial and error, despite their parents. They actually teach their parents how to be a parent. Second and third siblings are more lucky, they benefit from the mistakes the parents made the first time round. Grand-parents and other, more experienced family members and friends can be of great help. A support group is the key. Failing that, why not teach children at school to change a nappy / diaper, or at least teach them to care for a pet. Caring for others is not on any curriculum, yet it is one of the most an important skills.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Sue, this is an extremely insightful article. I am not a parent but I staunchly believe that many people are not ready to be parents. They idealize parenthood; however, they become overwhelmed with its realities. Parenthood is to be taken seriously and responsibly. Many people do not think before they become parents much to the peril of their children. Only a few people are ready and willing to be parents.

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      Sue Adams this is such a difficult question because I think we often parent the opposite way we were raised. If our parents were over protective then we tend to go to the passive extreme. Of course not everyone swings to the opposite but it does seem to occur. I guess we could have a parent license if we all agreed to what a good parent is. This is definitely something to think about! take care, Kelley

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 6 years ago from Andalusia

      Yes, Lady_E, Definitely more than 2 days. I believe that prospective parents are advised to spend time with someone who has recently given birth to a baby. Even if just for chatting and picking up tips.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 6 years ago from London, UK

      Lol Sue.

      Yeah... on reflection 2 days is short. That would just cover the introduction.

      Best Wishes.

    • KimHinshaw profile image

      KimHinshaw 6 years ago

      Where I live, if you give birth in one of the two birthing centers and have an OB, you are handed a multitude of brochures about parenting classes at these hospitals the minute your OB finds out you're pregnant. You choose to take them or not, and they do cost money. However...the folks with insurance, an OB, and access to quality hospitals are NOT the ones (typically) who need help with the basic parenting you're illustrating here. The folks who don't have these resources need this education. And our social services are already taxed (pun intended) to the limit trying to provide other basic needs. So adding a program for parental licensing to the government's list of duties is not going to happen, from both a parental rights perspective and a financial support perspective.

      However, I would encourage a grass-roots initiative of the same kind that's been responsible for increased awareness of contraceptive practices, awareness of rape statistics and the outgrowth of crisis centers, and awareness and prevention of domestic violence. You'll find centers for each of these in most communities. So why not foster the same kind of awareness for parenting practices? I'm sure that most parents, whether they were planning on being parents or not, WANT to be good parents. Because of their own upbringing, they may have no idea how, or how to find help. Currently it seems we only have parental discipline organizations such as Child Protective Services (or whatever it goes by wherever you are). I really think a grass-roots effort to educate parents at the bottom of the wealth chain for free would be most beneficial.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 6 years ago from Andalusia

      I think it would take more than two days or a week to learn the basics of parenting. Unless you can come up with an extraordinarily condensed video syllabus encompassing practical on-hands tuition? What would the main topics be?

      Safety, hygiene, feeding and sleeping routines, observation, education through listening, patience, roll-modelling (kids copy everything), to name but a few?

      The greatest advantage of becoming a good parent is that you are forced to better your own habits for the sake of the children.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 6 years ago from London, UK

      Beautiful Hub. I think Parenting Courses should be mandatory, particularly for Teens because alot of them come from broken homes - so the classes will give them a better foundation.

      Also - I would say yes for Adults to but maybe a 2 day Course. The Teens could have a One week course.

      I like this Hub.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very inspiring hub. Thanks for writing and share with us. I learn many things from this hub. Well done and Rated up!


    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 6 years ago from Andalusia

      Hi Cara,

      Of course the majority of children turn out just fine. Children are very resilient. However, in many cases one wonders if parenting classes wouldn't be helpful in raising kids.

    • profile image

      Cara 6 years ago

      My mom didn't take take parenting classes and I turned out just fine.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 6 years ago from Andalusia

      Thanks Nell, I just wish all parents were as aware as you are.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, I totally agree with you, it makes me shudder to see parents taking their kids out at night, leaving them to sleep on the sofa and not changing them properly. I used to make sure my son had a routine and if he couldn't sleep I would pile loads of toys on his bed so that he could play and then drop off, but he wasn't allowed to get back up. This would take about ten minutes, and then he would be asleep, good ideas, rated up

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 6 years ago from Andalusia

      Well, Polly, at least you had some experience when you had your own kids, so you must have done something right.

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 6 years ago from US

      My mother just let us go, although I am sure we none went dirty. My sister let hers go, dirt and all. Mine never made a move I didn't know about and everyone yelled I was over-protective, that would make them some non-ordinary way. So who really can say which is best? How far each way is too far. I acted out of love and with seven kids I am sure my mother loved us too but she did not have the one on one time. She worked constantly. I half-raised my younger brothers-yes, half-raised. My plants die as soon as I get them cat is 17 years old????