When Does Human Life Begin?

NO! This is not about abortion, contraception, nor choice. 

It is in fact something I have been contemplating for some time. One of my core values as a parent…not only to PanKwake, but my adult offspring as well. Especially.

It is sort of a follow-up to yesterday’s blog on The Only Autism Expert I Listen To. It is also a perfect storm of events in our family and friends’. This probably not the only time I will write about this topic but merely brainstorming.

So back to the question…

When does human life being?

By this I mean…at what point do parents recognize their offspring as separate and unique human beings with feelings, thoughts, privileges, and rights of their own?

Obviously as babies and toddlers, parents and carers have more of a responsibility to protect, nurture, and care for little humans. This is true of most other mammal species who rely upon parents for a various amount of time.

But when should parents begin to give their offspring more autonomy? And how much?

It saddens me that some parents never do. And not just those of #ActuallyAutistic either. Some parents of ‘normal’/neurotypical offspring continue to control their lives well into their 20s…30s…or even later. Often using guilt or manipulation. But sometimes it is simply a matter of the parents never preparing offspring for the realities of being an adult…by making all their decisions for them.

Think about/remember what it is really like being a child in our world…

  • Being told when you must sleep and wake up…even if you are not tired!
  • Being made to eat when, where, and what someone else decides…most often without even consulting you.
  • Having your clothes picked out for you…if not on a day-to-day basis almost certainly when buying them.
  • Having no privacy…other people completely free to enter your personal space (be that your bedroom, the bathroom, or even touch/hug/kiss you) most often without even asking permission or even when they do, feeling pressured to concede (as adults we call that harassment).
  • Being told when and what you can watch/play on computer, television, or other electronic devices…or worse yet, being denied accessed to them all together and thus handicapping you in the society in which we live (yes, I said that…and challenge you to give it serious consideration before going off the deep end).

And school?!?! It is even worse. All of the above applies…PLUS…

  • Expected to sit still sometimes without any movement such as tapping of feet, swinging of legs, or twiddling with fingers.
  • Expected to learn (often by rote or extreme repetition information that has little to no use later in life…preparing you for adulthood) without any consideration to your preferred style of learning…One Size Fits All/None!
  • And for me the worst and most humiliating of ALL…being forced to raise your hand and ask permission of someone else to perform the most basic bodily functions. Give that one some serious thought, folks. Imagine having to stand up in the middle of a conference with all your colleagues and ASK permission to urinate. How de-humanizing is that?

School is basically forced labor…without pay…and work sent home with you. Sound a bit like slavery to anyone?573ddba78cc22e7a483caa3861f646b6

Only in prisons, mental institutions, and the military (though without a draft, you can argue this one is somewhat voluntary) are those over 18 denied these fundamental human rights.

I am NOT (at least at this point) giving you my opinion on the issue…but I am challenging you to give it some serious thought. Perhaps even do a bit of research. For me, I have found the following resources instrumental in forming my belief system on the issue:

Escape from Childhood: The Needs and Rights of Children by John Holt (the ‘founder’ of the unschool movement) – I admit some of his ideals challenge even me. So be prepared.

Emile by Jean-Jacques Rousseau – As with many classic works please be aware of the historical differences in views such as race, gender, and even slavery. Use your filters to glean what is useful and some discretion in ignoring common untruths of the period.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Please feel free to add to those resources in the comments section.


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