John Locke, chapter 6, Of paternal power
He has some interesting ideas and conclusions here. He covers a problem I thought of years ago. What is the status of children and child minded individuals. He clearly confirms the father as the authority in a childs life. If the father dies without appointing a guardian the authority falls to the law.
This has been a point of contention for a long time. In my lifetime, children have been apprehended by social services simply because their father died. He was right about the state of maturity. He has an interesting way of putting it, children are governed during their minority. By their own parents, guardian, or government appointee, but they must be capable of knowing the law before the child can have his own will to choose.
After this Locke goes on to ask more questions than he answers. I have my own ideas on the subject. It doesn’t work to say children or child minded individuals have no rights. They do; Rights are of course not clearly defined but when they are I think we will find children do have rights. Childrens Rights are supplimental to their parents rights. It’s one good reason why you can’t give a child rights by taking them away from it’s parents, it’s a contradiction. That’s for another post though. I think one right a child should have is a right to one parent. Temporary foster care is not good, the child knows it’s not their parent. Actual parental authority is critical to halfway normal child development. If neither parent can be in the childs life. The proxy must be complete or the authority split will reek havoc in the childs life.
In the case of a genuine orphan with no potential for relatives to adopt it, The government should not be permitted to “warehouse” the child indefinitely. As soon as is practiceable an adoptive parent should be approved. Further, if a child somehow gets overlooked by the law. The child should have the right to try and arrange for their own adoptive parent.
Thinking about it just now I should clearify. The parental rights belong to the parent. The child of living parents active in the childs life cannot sell the parental rights or “trade up”. The childs parents should retain parental rights until and/or unless it becomes impossible.