As parents we have all had times where someone has tried interfering in our parenting style. Whether it is a minor issue such as a person telling the parents that what they are doing is wrong, or a major problem of nosy individuals involving the authorities to investigate parenting styles, the question of “is it legal” leaps to mind. Let’s explore the concept of parental rights and find out where the line is drawn.
Family Members that Interfere
Some family members can be one big walking nightmare. You can count on two things in every person’s family; one, that all people are going to have an opinion, and two, not all parents in the family are going to see eye to eye on parental decision making. But, this does not give anyone the right to interfere in the parenting styles of others.
Grandparents sometimes feel as though they have rights to interfere. That is not legally accurate. They are also not seen as any better than an aunt or uncle or cousin, etc. The only two people that have any say in the actual parenting of a child are the parents.
One of the biggest issues right now in the family law court room is grandparent’s rights. Do they have them? Sometimes, yes, most of the time, no. Here’s why. Most courts have made it clear that grandparents are not the parents. The law does not recognize them as having any rights as far as the decisions or the welfare of the children. They are in the family but not a vital part of the child rearing process. If a grandparent wishes to secure any type of forced visitation, should the parents get tired of the meddling or constant undermining of their parental decisions, then they must show the court that the child depends on them or will be lacking in a large area of their life should the grandparents be taken out of the picture.
Unless, of course, the situation is that the grandparents are the guardians or caretakers of the kids. Then the law may be on their side. First, grandparents that are interested in staying close to the children, if they have been caring for them, should secure custody through the courts with an experienced attorney. This has had a good track record in family courts. The courts are more likely to consider the grandparents involvement if they have had physical custody.
As for other family members, the courts usually do not even consider their involvement unless the children have been taken away from both parents for serious crimes or are declared unfit parents. So, in short, if someone is interfering in your family and you wish it to stop, then you must explain the legal standing of parental rights. Be fair, let them know that you appreciate their love for your child but that you will not tolerate interference.
Neighbors or Friends of the Family
From the nosy neighbor who calls the authorities every time a child doesn’t go to school to the friend that likes to think that they are helping by providing unwanted opinions, both can be irritating and in some cases, illegal. Let me explain.
Irritating comments are not illegal. They are out of line, rude and flat out annoying, but not illegal. However, anytime that the authorities are called or brought into the family situation, that can be illegal. Unless there is verifiable proof that a parent is breaking the law, harassment charges can be filed. In many instances, a person that interferes with a parent or repeatedly calls the authorities on them without actual proof that anything is wrong, can face multiple charges and be fined for using emergency services to investigate false allegations.
Regardless of who demands the investigations, whether it is a family member or some other third party, all can face charges if the allegations are false or if there is no real emergency.
We all need to remember that freedom of speech is everyone’s right. But, that is where the line of their rights and your rights are drawn. They can speak their mind to you as two adults having a conversation. But, when it comes down to the actual interference with your parenting methods, it is your duty to protect your parental rights. Every parent has the right to raise their children as they see fit as long as no laws are being broken.