Adolescents as decision makers

What should we do when parents & children disagree about what is best for a child?

Special categories already recognized in the law:

  • Emancipated Minors
  • Mature Minors (limited power of self-choice)
  • Minor Treatment Statutes (avoidance of parental control over specific sensitive issues)

For Weir & Peters, the key point is that normal adolescents reach COGNITIVE maturity at 14. They have the "psychological elements of rational consent." 

Individuals capable of engaging in moral persuasion should be respected as autonomous persons.

Ross replies: 

  • Lack of clear criteria for maturity is a strong reason against changing the status quo.
  • COMPETENCE is necessary but not sufficient for respecting autonomy. 
  • Consistency would require extension of autonomy to non-medical decisions.
  • Substitutes judgments about maturity to persons outside family. Parents are teh best judges of this.



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Last updated July 18, 2006