Circumscribed autonomy: Children, care, and custody

In Uma Narayan & Julia Bartkowiak (eds.), Having and Raising Children. Penn State University Press (1998)
For many people the idea that children are autonomous agents whose autonomy the parents should respect and the state should protect is laughable. For them, such an idea is the offspring of idle academics who never had, or at least never seriously interacted with, children. Autonomy is the province of full fledged rational adults, not immature children. It is easy to see why many people embrace this view. Very young children do not have the experience or knowledge to make informed decisions about matters of momentous significance. However, from this fact many people infer (or talk as if they infer) that all children are helpless moppets, wholly incapable of making any informed decisions.
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