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NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

July 24, 2013 by Rita Fuerst Adams, National Executive Director, National Parents Organization

In the United States we seem obsessed with national observance days. Is this the result of our personal wishes to commemorate people and events? Or, at the risk of sounding cynical, does the greeting card industry have the best lobbyists?

Yet, I am tempted to agree with a Massachusetts author, Roland Merullo, for the need for a Children’s Day. On the eve of the observance of Parents’ Day, Merullo wrote, “…Children’s Day isn’t such a bad idea after all — one day a year to do more explicitly what many of us do all the time: be grateful for this gift in our midst.”

And it seems that National Parents Organization members are perhaps more grateful, more mindful of the gift of their child — every child — in our midst. I am sure it is because most often our members have had to fight for what other parents take for granted. Our members have had to fight for days, hours, minutes to attend school programs, to go to the soccer match, to read a bed time story, or to go to church together. Our members have had to fight for a voice in their child’s medical care, religious training, or education.

The more I think about it, a national observance for our children, Children’s Day, would be the perfect day for our members to speak of their struggles to preserve their bond with their children. It would be the opportunity for all our parents to speak up. While we know that the majority of times it is the father pushed out by family law, we know family courts also alienate mothers and grandparents. Thus, National Parents Organization fights for all children regardless of whether or not their parents have ever been married; regardless of whether or not their parents fit the “traditional” model; regardless of whether or not their parents were once married and are unable to continue together.

National Parents Organization’s goal is to make shared parenting the norm by reforming the family courts and laws in every state. It begins with our mission:

The National Parents Organization improves the lives of children and strengthens society by protecting every child’s right to the love and care of both parents after separation or divorce. We seek better lives for children through family court reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers.

As the nation’s foremost voice for shared parenting and family law reform, we are focused on promoting shared parenting and gender equality, where both parents have equal standing raising children after a separation or divorce. National Parents Organization recognizes that preserving a strong bond between children and their parents is critically important to children’s emotional, mental, and physical health.

While one would think that the natural day for National Parents Organization to celebrate and encourage would be the celebration of Parents’ Day, it appears to have “baggage” attached. Under President Bill Clinton, the US Congress unanimously established this day for, “recognizing, uplifting, and supporting the role of parents in the rearing of children.” Sounds good.

The day, however, is promoted by the National Parents’ Day Council. They are very clear in their narrow definition of parents and family.

“While recognizing that there are many successful parents in a variety of family arrangements and circumstances, the National Parents’ Day Council strives to lift up the model of the two-parent family. Studies have consistently shown that this family model, having both a father and a mother, provides the best possible foundation for children’s growth, security and lasting happiness. Candidates for National Parents of the Year are therefore happily married couples.”

Because National Parents Organization is about children and the importance of every child preserving the bond with the parents they know and the extended families who love them, I think we can be better served by Children’s Day. In my Pollyanna world, I dream of a day when every child born has two loving parents waiting and planning their arrival. Ready to share the journey — be it Italy or Holland — depending on their child’s given talents. And our family courts and society encourage these parents to preserve their bond with their children, no matter what happens to their relationship.

Until then, perhaps we should work on Children’s Day to bring about the awareness of our children caught in family court that they too are one of the gifts in our midst.

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