The duty of parents to children

Under the natural law parents owe a duty to their children to nurture, raise and educate them, and bring them healthy, happy, well-loved and well-balanced into adulthood. This applies to biological parents and adoptive parents.

It follows that fathers or mothers who abandon their children are breaching their natural duty to the children. Thus the law is warranted in tracking down absconding parents and requiring them to shoulder their responsibilities.

The duty of parents to society

Every new child is a blessing and a benefit to the world, but one poorly turned out, one who has been brought up without love, is very likely to cause harm to the world.

Parents must be made responsible

When the government cannot avoid assuming responsibility for a service that should remain in the realm of private activity, it must at least keep the burden of responsibility as much as possible upon the shoulders of the one to whom it naturally belongs. Thus, in the case of foundlings, the principle being that the father and the mother must raise the child, the law must exhaust every means to see that this is done.

—Frédéric Bastiat. Economic Harmonies, 1850.

Absconded parents must be pursued relentlessly by the law just as every other criminal is. The state should prescribe a minimum level of child support payable by absconded parents and should collect and remit these payments.

Absconders who are unable to afford their child support payments should be banned from having more children. This is perfectly in accord with the natural law. Would-be parents since the dawn of time have bided their time, worked hard, studied hard, planned and saved before starting a family. There is no natural right to spread your seed with no prospect of raising the resulting children except by foisting the responsibility onto others. Such behavior is an assault on others, in the same way as robbing a bank to finance the raising of your children is.

Those men who are unable to afford their child support payments and continue to impregnate women should be offered a choice of vasectomy or unsafe persons colony. This may seem a harsh violation of the individual’s rights—but it is nowhere near as harsh as growing up without a father. It is nowhere near as harsh as being doomed to a life of crime and imprisonment. It is nowhere near as harsh as being murdered by an abused child that has grown into a socially dysfunctional killer. Ignoring irresponsible behavior which begets violent criminals and pushes up taxes to confiscatory levels and harms children is not being liberal—it is lawlessness.

Those who refuse to pay child support or deliberately thwart collection by intentionally remaining unemployed should be incarcerated. Those who are unable to afford their child support payments should be made to pay what they can afford and the remainder should constitute a debt to the state. The debt should not be extinguished by the child reaching adulthood, but should persist until repaid. The debt should carry interest at the natural cost of money (around 8 percent) and be repayable by the delinquent parent in installments. If a defaulting parent pays off his arrears and demonstrates the ability to afford more children (by means of establishing a good career), he should then be permitted to father more children. Thus a gang member who falls foul of the law but later reforms, gets a job, works hard, and pays off his arrears, will be able to get married and have more children using reproductive technology.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove