Awhile back, I worked with a woman who was vocal about her belief that potential parents should have to pass a strict screening before welcoming children into the world. Although, from a purely scientific standpoint, there was no way to enforce my coworker’s slightly far-fetched proposal, she maintained all human beings should be stripped of their fertility at birth and should have their ability to procreate returned to them in their mid-to-late 20s only if they meet certain criteria.
According to my creative-thinking colleague, all potential parents should:
• Be several years into a stable marriage
• Have to pass an IQ test
• Be adequately educated
• Be employed or have an employed spouse who can comfortably provide for the whole family
• Have a steady and large-enough income to sufficiently provide for children without the use of government assistance
• Have health insurance
• Live in a structurally sound home in a safe neighborhood
• Be completely recreational drug-free and willing to stay that way
• Have reliable transportation or live in a city where public transportation is readily available
I was much younger, child-free and newly married when my coworker first described her idea to me, so I laughed in amusement and didn’t give it much more thought. Only now that I am older and have a daughter am I beginning to realize the parental-screening theory’s merits. It actually sounds pretty good to me.
About two weeks ago, a Hilton Head Island woman was arrested after a preschool worker found two needles filled with heroin in her child’s backpack. That’s right. A 4-year-old boy was toting around syringes full of illegal narcotics. I shudder to think of what could have happened to that child and others in his classroom had it not been for the observant school employee. Sadly, the boy’s mother also has a 6-year-old and an 8-month old. However, if the above-mentioned parental screening was mandatory, she likely wouldn’t have any children.
I’m certainly not saying the world would be better off without this woman’s children in it. On the contrary, children absolutely cannot help the environment into which they are born, and my heart goes out to little ones whose lives are filled with hardship and struggle through no fault of their own. However, the world likely would be better off if people who are known to abuse drugs did not become parents.
And if reading about that nearby child-endangerment incident wasn’t enough, I personally witnessed something quite unsettling just a few days later.
My 21-month-old daughter, Reese, and I were in the supermarket last Sunday, picking up all the groceries our family would need for the week. We passed another mother and her little boy, who was about Reese’s age. The child was standing next to his mother’s cart, and when he saw Reese waving at him, he ran toward us, delightedly calling, “Hi! Hi!”
I smiled, not at all minding a visit from another adorable toddler, but before he got too far, the boy’s mother grabbed his arm, yanked him backward, swatted him in the face and yelled at him to stay put.
I was floored. Although I’m sadly aware of the fact it happens, I’d never seen anyone hit a toddler. It broke my heart and made me realize my former co-worker’s assertion is true — some people really just have no business being parents.