Caring Too Much?   Leave a comment


I just think I better start this blog off with an apology for not writing anything for about a year. The reason is that I began a full-time job and somehow managed to not have enough spare time to do my blog. However, I have been missing it recently and now my job has relocated to London this means I moved here and now have little money leftover for a social life, so I need to do something to entertain myself – so what better time to start blogging again? I plan to try and get back to maintaining a weekly article about the religious/ cultural/ spiritual/ moral/ ethical news stories which catch my eye. Although I may just take a story which has interested me and put a moral spin on it; it depends on what’s current and feels inspiring. Now, to begin the article proper…

The world wide web is very inviting, but also can be a dangerous place.

There have been two news stories that have gauged my interest this week and I’m going to tie them together. They are the media attention surrounding the use of pharmacies to provide contraception to under-age girls without the need for parental consent and the story about whether it should be up to the parents or the internet service providers (ISPs) to prevent children accessing porn content online. These news stories can be linked as at the heart of them is the suggestion that parents should be allowed to ‘control’ their children’s behaviour.

So, should medical information be kept from parents? Or do parents have a right to know about the important things happening in their children’s lives? Well as a young woman who until recently had been living at her parents’ house and who has no children of her own, I certainly am of the opinion that my life is my life and I don’t want any parental interference. However, I can certainly understand the point of view of the parents who just want to make sure their child is safe. Also, if episodes of TV medical dramas are anything to go by, there’s no point in hiding anything as “the truth will out in the end”, so maybe trying to keep secrets will just end up prolonging the agony in the long-run.

A difficult conversation to have.

There’s a fine line between wanting to protect someone you love because you care about their wellbeing versus not giving your child the opportunity to grow up and gain their independence. Whilst it is obviously important for families to try and create a good moral environment for their offspring to grow up in for their future lives, it must be accepted that interfering can lead to rebellion (particularly during the teenage years) so the well-meaning parents could end up just making the situation worse if they push it too far. As with most things in life, a good balance is the key. Don’t over-do the ‘I want to know where you are and what you’re doing at all times’ aspect of parenting; the best thing to do is to set your children a good moral example.

Also, the child is going to have to grow up one day and learn to make their own choices and decisions about morality and ethics in their lives. It is a parent’s job to guide but not force their own ideas of morality and ethics onto their offspring. Parents need to be able to let their children make – and learn from – their own mistakes and families also need to ensure that whilst certain behaviours are expected, people do make mistakes and we can forgive, learn from them, then move on.

Click this picture to see the Telegraph's take on the story about under-age girls getting the pill from pharmacies.

Thinking back to the original news stories which sparked this debate, if we think about it, allowing under-age girls to obtain contraception more easily, we are actually helping to prevent a much bigger problem (i.e. early motherhood) and it is better to do that than to waste time preaching to the young girl about under-age sex. The girl will have heard all about the dangers and irresponsibility of under-age sex before and pharmacies are already well-versed in providing counselling when they conduct the EHC (Emergency Hormonal Contraception) service which the majority of PCTs (Primary Care Trusts) up and down the country have already put into operation at a local level. Most EHC services can be accessed by under-age girls, but these are only a temporary solution whereas the pill is more permanent.

I think some parents (and politicians) are concerned that making the pill more readily available might appear as if society is ignoring or ‘accepting’ under-age sex. This is not the case at all: in fact, by allowing pharmacies to offer the pill without the need for a prescription, these vulnerable girls, who may be terrified of asking their family doctor about contraception, can gain access to it and to the one-on-one counselling from an impartial third party that goes with it. It would help to protect under-age girls, but obviously should not be used to replace the need to educate young people about sex and the law.

Lastly, I just want to turn this article on its head by highlighting a completely different type of parental interference. It’s been reported that some parents are helping their young children to create social media profiles on sites such as Facebook. Unfortunately, by allowing your child to join sites such as Facebook or accessing chat rooms, you aren’t considering the potentially unsuitable nature of these websites. There are adverts, invitations to join groups and messages that can be easily sent and received without being filtered and so they can contain swearwords, violence or sexual references.

So remember: we don’t want parent who are too over-protective, but we don’t want parents who are too liberal either!

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Posted 28/04/2012 by thinkmindy in ethics, Morality

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