It's Only Rock n Roll but I Like it
Ocean County Superior Court has recently ruled that the taking of an eleven year old child to a “P!NK” concert by her mother is a reasonable and appropriate exercise of parental discretion. When given joint custody, will courts step in to mediate between parents who disagree on how a child is being raised?
New Jersey law encourages parents to cooperate when it comes to parental decisions. However, when parents are divorced and joint custody is ordered, each parent retains their own right to exercise reasonable parental discretion over their children when the children are under their supervision. The courts are not referees when issues between parents arise in regards to how they raise their children, and courts will not stop a parent who wishes to dine at McDonald’s for lunch when they are with their children. Parents have the right to raise their children how they see fit, and that right is not given solely to one parent when joint custody is ordered. Each parent is free to parent how they wish during their time with their child. When parenting decisions are unreasonable and inappropriate, a court may step in to protect the best interests of the child. Courts do have a duty, under parens patriae, to protect and watch over the best interests of children who are incapable of protecting themselves, primarily in issues that endanger the “health, welfare, and safety” of children, but issues of general parenting decisions, like going to a rock concert, will not be decided by a family court.
Rock music has had its ups and downs since its inception. In the past, certain New Jersey cities have banned rock music from being performed. In more recent times, places like “Graceland” have been declared National Landmarks, and songs such as “Satisfaction” have been placed into the National Recording Registry. In the 1950’s, a parent may have been able to claim that subjecting their child to rock music constituted as an “irreparable harm.” However, in 2015, rock music has been generally accepted by our culture. Specifically, “P!NK” has numerous songs that portray messages and values beneficial to teens and pre-teens alike. Some songs may contain profanities, but none are so outrageous that attending a concert with a child would be seen as an abuse of parental discretion. Like eating McDonald’s for lunch, taking a child to a rock concert is something for a parent to decide, and not the place for the courts to step in.
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