Here’s one for the books, or at least one for the newspaper. I pay special attention to events that take place in both Chicago and Urbana, Illinois, as I did my undergraduate work at Northwestern, and my legal work at the University of Illinois. I haven’t been to Urbana other than for a long weekend in the last twenty years since graduating from law school, however, things appear to be getting out of hand.
This very summer found the Department of Children and Family Services removing a five-year-old boy from his home because his mother would not stop breast-feeding him. The boy has been placed in foster care, and is presently being tended to by his long-time babysitter, pending the next hearing. This matter pits the babysitter against the mother for, when interviewed by the Department of Children and Family Services, the babysitter said she was told that the child wanted to stop nursing however, his mother wouldn’t let him. Circuit Court Judge Ann Einhorn heard this case, and fortunately, made a finding that there was no proof of sexual abuse in this case. Judge Einhorn further concluded that the mother, who is 32 years old, had raised a very intelligent young man. The Judge took the boy from his mother, however, concluding that the downside here was significantly greater than the upside, in that significant harm could befall this child if things continued as they were.
In this matter, the mother’s attorney argued that the mother had a constitutional right to parent the way she wanted to parent; Judge Einhorn disagreed, and I’m with the judge on this one.
Five years old and still breast-feeding? What’s going on here? No, there are limits to the manner in which a parent parents her child. The parent cannot sexually abuse or physically abuse her child. Emotional abuse is certainly not favored, either; however, it is more difficult to prove. For the mother’s attorney to argue that there were, in effect, no boundaries in the raising of her child is ludicrous.
Rights we have that often seem absolute are not quite so. You often hear people talk about the absolute right to free speech; that right ends when someone yells “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater. (Unless of course, the movie theater truly is on fire.) There is no constitutionally authorized right of privacy that allows a mother to raise a child without any accountability.
I fervently hope that Judge Einhorn orders a psychological evaluation of the mother, the babysitter, and the child before the next hearing. Perhaps this is one of those cases in which the babysitter falls in love with the child and wants to find a way to separate the child from the mother. You find this from time to time in divorce cases where the divorce is quite bitter and vitriolic, and one parent accuses the other parent of either physical or sexual abuse of the child in order to help his or her case. Obviously, I have no way of knowing whether the babysitter is being truthful or not; however, if the babysitter is “telling it like it is,” I would suggest that the mother needs some help. In domestic violence cases in the state of California, those who are convicted generally go to anger management classes. I am trying to think of an equivalent type of class the mother in this case can be assigned to, however, this is a family newspaper.
One way or the other, this child should eventually come home; however, this mother must agree to keep her body away from her son.
I apologize in advance for taking the easy pun, however, I will keep you abreast of any further developments in this case.