Children can bring joy, laughter and life to a family existence, but responsible parenting involves more than laughing and playing with them. Parents have legal and physical responsibilities and duties to their children, so that the children will grow up to be productive, healthy adults who contribute to society. The minimal requirements include a safe environment, proper nutrition and some general guidance about life.
Parents have a responsibility and duty to make their children obey laws. In some states, if a child breaks a law and causes damages, the parent can be legally and financially responsible for that damage, according to "Financial and Legal Responsibilities of Parents for Their Children" posted on the Oregon State Bar website. For example, according to the Illinois Legal Aid website, if a 13-year-old child goes to the mall and purposely destroys a store window or a water feature, his parents can be liable for damages, and the court can force the child's parents to pay for the repair or replacement. Parents are expected to make their children obey the law, which includes curfews, as well as attending school.
Children have a right to live in an environment that is safe physically and mentally. Parental responsibilities include providing a safe home for their offspring, according to "8 Essential Parent Responsibilities," published on the FamilyResource.com website. For example, the home should have proper heating, free from excessive clutter, pests and bugs, and not present any immediate dangers to the children. Immediate dangers can include lack of supervision, access to loaded weapons, and exposure to harmful chemicals such as poisons or cleaning solutions. Parental duties also extend outside of the home, which include making children wear seat belts in vehicles and supervising them during activities.
Children must have nutritional food and water. In addition, parents must seek medical care for children who need it, according to "8 Essential Parent Responsibilities." For example, a child with diabetes whose parents refuse to seek medical supervision or provide necessary medication, are not complying with their parental rights and responsibilities. While what the children eat is up to the parents, children's food must be nutritious and in sufficient quantity to maintain their health. Clothing appropriate for the climate is also a parental responsibility.
Parents have a duty to educate their children in accordance with the local and state laws where they live. Whether the children are homeschooled or if they attend public or private schools, parents must follow the laws the laws that govern education in their state and school district. For example, the state of Tennessee mandates that every parent who has control of a child over the age of 6 and under 18 must enroll the child in either public or private schools or in approved homeschooling.