Do minor children “belong” to their parents?

I have a 15 year-old that claims he has rights under the Constitution (they told him in school) and he doesn’t belong to me. He says that he can make his own decisions and choices. According to him, anything that he bought with his money, he says I cannot touch even for disciplinary reasons.

Asked on December 3, 2010 under Family Law, Maryland


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Either your school is mistaken or your child is mistaken. While children are not property of their parents and have certain rights parents may not transgress--e.g. parents may not deny children food, water, education, etc.--fundamentally, except for those "big ticket" items, children are subject to their parent's control. In fact, parents can face liability for NOT controlling their children adequately, if the children then injure themselves or other people.  In some circumstances, an old-enough minor (e.g. 16 - 18) can be legally "emancipated" if the parents do not act in the child's interests, but that is a rare case involving exceptional situations. You might wish to contact the school and find out what exactly is being taught and seek their help in correcting this misapprehension.

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