Vortex of Children’s Rights

vortexBy Gretchen Leigh


Every passing year, parents and their children are pulled into a vortex so furtive we don’t even realize we are headed to its dizzying edge until it’s too late. Even if we do know it’s coming, as we would with subsequent children, there is nothing we can do about it. We are doomed to tip over the edge and be sucked in until the year our child turns eighteen.

I will name it the “Vortex of Children’s Rights,” but I call it something unprintable in real life. It’s when our children hit certain ages and they gain the rights to certain aspects of their lives.

It starts innocently enough when our twelve year olds become “adults” at the movie theater and we parents have to pay full price to get them in. But then they turn thirteen and suddenly they have the right to confidentiality at their pediatrician’s office.

I am all for children having the right to privacy; haven’t we all had things we didn’t want to tell our parents? And their pediatrician should be a safe place they can go when they need confidentiality. But can’t the powers that be let them know they have this right, so if they need the privacy away from their parents, it becomes available to them at that time?

The problem with children having the right to confidentiality is they aren’t prepared to handle this right they’ve been granted: They can’t drive themselves to the doctor, they don’t have the money for the co-payment, and, this is the clincher, they are not old enough to have the right to view their health records online. But guess what? Because they have rights their parents can’t view their health records online either.

I get encouraging emails and letters from our health care provider telling me it would be so much better if I had my children set up in their online system so I could review their health history, make sure their scheduled “maintenance” is up to date and that they’ve had all their immunizations.

It just makes me cry when I get these friendly invitations. I remember the days before my children turned thirteen and I was able to look at all their health information online without calling and asking a nurse; I could make their well-child checkups online without having to pick up the phone, wait on hold and schedule with a receptionist; I could have an informal email chat with their pediatrician over simple questions instead of scheduling a phone appointment with him.

In addition, when I drive them to an appointment, stand in front of the cashier, am asked for money and pay it, unless my child signs a waiver that tells the insurer I am allowed to pay for it, my child will get a separate bill in the mail at my house. How is that confidential? What parent receives mail from their child’s pediatrician’s office with their child’s name on it and doesn’t open it?

Do they think my child will open that envelope and pay the bill? Heck, they don’t even have the stamp to put on the outside of the envelope much less the money to put in the envelope. When I do get a bill in the mail, I have to call the health provider’s business office and have someone track down the money I paid while standing in front of the cashier. It is usually sitting in my husband’s account as the main provider. Why would I just send money to sit in our main account?

Then just when I thought this Vortex of Children’s Rights couldn’t possibly get any worse, I find out my seventeen year old daughter is now too old for us to receive a tax credit for her anymore.

The government tells us we have to be responsible for feeding, clothing and providing housing for our children, yet they take away their tax credit before they are even of legal age. Where’s the justice of parental rights in that law? My daughter can’t even legally run away at seventeen, much less own the car that she would run away in.

So I told my daughter that since the government has bestowed on her this final right, she would have to make up that $1000 tax credit her father and I will be losing this last year before she turns eighteen. She can take shorter showers, eat less food, and start walking the two miles to the bus stop.

After all, it’s her right isn’t it?


Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who has nothing better to do than call her insurance provider to track down stray money. She also writes, does laundry and cooks. You can visit her website livingwithgleigh.com to read more of her writing and her daily blog.

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october, 2020