2004 U. Chi. Legal F. 27 (2004)
Allocating Developmental Control among Parent, Child and the State

handle is hein.journals/uchclf2004 and id is 31 raw text is: Allocating Developmental Control Among
Parent, Child and the State
Emily Buss'
We know that children change dramatically between birth
and adulthood, and we know they are subject to influence during
the course of that development. We know much less, however,
about how that development is influenced, let alone what the
ideal outcomes of that development might be. This uncertainty
counsels humility in allotting developmental control among indi-
viduals and institutions, and particularly cautions against cen-
tralizing and ossifying that control in the state. There are, how-
ever, certain aspects of development that the state is especially
qualified to shape. After considering the relative competence of
parent, child, and state to influence the various aspects of devel-
opment over which they may compete, this Article considers a
special form of developmental influence available only to the
state. As the single entity with authority to impose its influence
on all citizens, the state has the unique ability to facilitate devel-
opment by withholding certain forms of state action routinely
imposed on adults.
If we knew absolutely nothing about the pathways of devel-
opmental influence, or had no reason to prefer some developmen-
tal outcomes over others, we would be wise to leave the upbring-
ing of children entirely to private actors. Such an approach
would comport with our commitment to pluralism by allowing
one generation to perpetuate its own diversity, and even expand
upon it, in the next generation. Such an approach would also be
well designed to maximize child-welfare. Those with the greatest
direct stake and investment in a child would oversee that child's
development.' Moreover, the diversity of experience would pro-
t Professor of Law, The University of Chicago Law School. Thanks to Brian Rubens
for his excellent research assistance, to Adam Samaha for his insightful comments, and to
the Freida and Arnold Shure Research Fund for its financial support.
1 In most cases, private control over child development would mean that one or both
biological parents would exercise near-complete control over their children while young
and relatively compliant, and decreasing control as their children gained views of their

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