In Theory: What do you think of National Children's Day?

John Ross of Batavia, Ill. has spearheaded a movement to proclaim the second Sunday in June as National Children’s Day.

Thus far, Illinois has done so since 2007, as well as Aurora, Ill.; Batavia, Ill; Fort Collins, Colo.; and Vancouver, Wash., according to the organization’s website.

However, a recent effort calling on President Obama to officially proclaim National Children’s Day failed to gather enough signatures at WhiteHouse.gov — only 74 of the 100,000 signatures for the administration to take action were collected by the deadline.

According to Ross’ group, Children’s Day observations predate both Mother’s and Father’s day celebrations, and the second Sunday in June is the date recommended by the Methodist Episcopal Church, as well as the Presbyterian church.

Q. Would you support a national “Children’s Day?” In your respective faiths, are there any times during the religious calendar when your members are called to give special consideration to children? What would you hope a “Children’s Day” would accomplish?

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I think everyone would agree with the humanist perspective that all humans should be treated special every day.

That being said, children are the future. And, given their innocence and vulnerability, we must also promote efforts that truly highlight children’s issues, their protection and their rights. Setting aside a special day to do this is an excellent idea and, in fact, already exists. Nov. 20 is the day designated by the U.N. as Universal Day of Children.

Since the second Sunday in June National Children’s Day proclamation was mentioned, I feel obligated to comment on it as humanist. It seems to me the promulgators focus on young people from families of faith and, specifically, Christians. Designating the second Sunday in June began in 1856, when Rev. Charles H. Leonard set apart a Sunday for the “dedication of children to the Christian life...”

A child is not born with a certain belief system. This comes after they have the ability to truly decide on their own what they believe. Any children’s day should not only be free from discrimination against religious families, it should not discriminate against nontheists as well. It must recognize the right of a child, as the British Humanist Assn. says, not to be labeled; Christian, Jewish, Atheist, Humanist or anything else.

While I support the right to both believe and celebrate one’s faith and applaud any efforts to protect children, a movement that states we are created in god’s image and treats religious faith as a given or necessity, excludes my family and the millions worldwide who do not believe in gods. If the language they used in their promotion were more universally inclusive, I might even be inclined to support them. Or, they might want to rename their day something like National Day of Children from Families of Faith.

On the other hand, the foundations for the Nov. 20 day are the 1959 United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the subsequent Convention of the Rights of the Child of 1989. They state that children shall enjoy certain rights and freedoms “without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status,” making it a day truly representative of all human children. The 1989 Convention goes further to designate childhood by age and declares that when the child is “capable of forming his or her own views,” they should have “the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.”

The rights of all youth worldwide, including education, nutrition, love, protection, the right not to be labeled and more must be respected and protected. Any truly inclusive effort toward that goal should be encouraged, and I personally believe we should recognize and more diligently publicize the U.N. Universal Day of Children.

Joshua Lewis Berg
Humanist Celebrant
Glendale

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With all of the pressures and negative influences that children face these days it’s a great idea to establish at least one day where they are affirmed in a positive manner by their parents and other caring adults around them. That, I believe, is the intention of the proposed “Children’s Day.” In a May 2015 news release, John Ross wrote that those who observe Children’s Day “pledge to commit … in the coming year, to love, cherish, nurture (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs), and affirm” children who are in their sphere of influence. What a wonderful thing for any child to hear!

In my church experience the closest thing to Children’s Day I’ve seen is baby dedications, the recognition of school graduations and even a weeklong children’s vacation Bible school, all of which are focused on recognizing and nurturing children.

Sometimes our society discounts the value of our children’s contributions. Sure, we love kids, but we want them out of the way so we can accomplish the “important things.” Jesus had a different perspective. He welcomed them even when his disciples wanted to keep them from getting in the way of “important” ministry accomplishments. Matthew 19:13-15 says, “Then some children were brought to him so that he might lay his hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. ‘But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ After laying his hands on them, he departed from there.” Jesus commended the humility and meekness that is often observed in children when they are in the presence of a group of adults. Maybe appreciating them and holding up their positive examples on an annual basis would be good for us all.

Jon Barta
Burbank

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A bumper sticker I saw recently on a pickup here in the neighborhood said “I Love My Wife.” How nice, I thought. Does he want a medal? Similarly, should we need a calendar day to call us to give “special consideration” to our young, who depend completely on us physically and emotionally?

Just look at what has happened to Mother's Day. It originated soon after the Civil War with mothers of dead Union and Confederate soldiers coming together to mourn and promote peace. Anna Jarvis, credited with getting the day recognized nationally in 1908, was so upset by the commercialism of the special day that she later actively worked to have the federal government undeclare it a holiday.

I would hope that we could accomplish a society that cares for children without yet another “Hallmark holiday” on our schedule.

Roberta Medford
Atheist
Montrose

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It seems these days that there's a special significance to every box on the calendar. This past month of May there were the standards: Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day, Memorial Day and National Day of Prayer, but there were also the lesser known National Homebrew Day, Teacher Appreciation Day, Limerick Day, Sea Monkey Day, Hamburger Day, and Star Wars Day (may the fourth be with you). These, and also Chicken Dance Day, Neighbor Day, Receptionist Day, and World Tobacco Day. There's a day for everything, and everything seems to be on every day. The whole year is saturated. So let's add another: Children's Day!

I frankly think this is silly, as just about every day is children's day, and most certainly our main holidays are overwhelmingly about kids (Christmas being the primary example). Even the irreligious focus on satisfying the wish-lists of children in December, and visiting Santa, distributing candy, etc., are all aimed at children.

Mother's and Father's Day make a lot more sense to me. There are fewer parents than children, and children don't think much about their parents' contributions to their daily survival until these special days where the kids have to stop and think, “Oh yeah, Mom and Dad, they should probably hear that we are at least remotely grateful.”

I don't think Children's Day would accomplish anything except add to the white noise of daily special emphases, although I'm sure the greeting card and toy companies are going to be all for this one and will make it the specially advertised midyear priority. As a single parent of two, I'm just about tapped out, and I don't need one more day to worry about, that requires I buy pictures, gowns, cards, gifts or whatever's going to be the expected norm. By the way, this year on the second Sunday in June it will concurrently be Strawberry Shortcake Day, Pop Goes the Weasel Day, National Flag Day, and National Bourbon Day. Children's Day and Bourbon Day on the same day. There's a bit of irony.

The Rev. Bryan Griem
Community Church of Montrose
Montrose

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