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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Turley presents A Lawyer’s Guide to Fatherhood

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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Fakamura sent me Jonathan Turley’s excellent A lawyer’s guide to fatherhood in USA Today.

Fatherhood is the one job that you can get without the slightest degree of experience, knowledge or talent (despite what you may hear to the contrary on Father’s Day). For that reason, when a friend had his first child recently, I quickly rattled off the most important things that I have learned as the father of three boys and a girl: Don’t wear white shirts while changing boys (they consider it a type of canvas); the easiest way to extract material from noses is a hot bath (except for cheese sticks); always check your briefcase for toy guns before entering a courthouse; and always check the children for captive animals before leaving a forest.

But the most important lesson is that all children are born with an innate sense of the law. Indeed, when the Framers spoke of natural rights, they might have hit on the same discovery in their own children. You can actually track your kids’ development by the legal arguments they make. Take it from me, the best way to prepare for parenting is to take a law course at your community college.

A sampling….

Takings. The Constitution prohibits the taking of property without compensation by the government. Within their first two years, all children embrace this principle with a vengeance. Parents learn they must compensate for any item removed: a toy for the car keys; a cracker for the 12-inch butcher knife.

Contracts. By 3, negotiating with kids is like working with little Teamsters on a labor contract. Bring a sandwich truck to the site; it becomes part of the contract. Likewise, once a parent buys a scone at Starbucks or allows cartoons in the morning, it is part of an unwritten but enforceable contract. This develops into a form of collective bargaining with the addition of another sibling: Any benefit to one is instantly an expected benefit to the other. Break the contract and you’ll face work stoppages, unending protests and even sabotage that ranges from spilled milk to items in the trash can.

Cruel and unusual punishment. By 3, children have defined what they view as cruel and unusual punishment. Denials of favorite foods or toys are considered to be measures that “shock the conscience” and require immediate redress.

For more continue reading: A lawyer’s guide to fatherhood

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