Who’s sitting next to your child?
How much right do parents have to decide who their children associate with?
Jerusalem was brought to a standstill recently when about 100 000 Ultra-Orthodox Jews protested a court ruling. The issue began with a group of parents who defied an order that their daughters study with girls of a different ethnicity, says a report on the Independent’s website.

‘Parents of European, or Ashkenazi, origin do not want their daughters to be educated in the same classroom as schoolgirls of Middle Eastern and North African descent, or Sephardim, claiming that they are not as religious,’ the report states.

And their fear is that the ‘not religious enough’ girls would negatively influence their ‘very religious girls’. Israel's Supreme Court rejected the parents' argument, and ordered them to serve two weeks in jail.

After reading the article I found myself agreeing with one aspect of the Ashkenazi’s argument in this case. As a parent I want, like we all do, what’s best for my kids. If I felt that my daughters would be adversely influenced by associating with anyone I considered to be not in the best interest of my little angels’ development, I would fight for that right as well. Although obviously not on racial grounds.

Before you get on your high horse, consider this. If your child was as bright as a button and came from a loving home where all was as it should be - and my child, for example, was a dysfunctional mess and a poster child for all that was wrong in parenting and child-raising, would you be happy that they hung out with each other?

Do we have an intrinsic right to associate with whom we choose at the exclusion of others? Is this a simple matter of wanting the best for their kids? I’m assuming here that if the children from Eastern Europe or North Africa were as religious as the Ashkenazi, there would be no problem hanging out together.

These parents were making the assumption that their kids would be negatively influenced. What if they were able to positively influence the other children? Yeah, I know that only happens if you’re Mother Teresa.

But what do you think? How do you balance what’s good for your kids (in terms of your personal beliefs) with what’s socially acceptable or not?

Do we have the right to decide with whom our kids’ associate? And where do we draw the line?

Read more by Marlon Abrahams

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