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Paul Baker/the Gauntlet

Too bad it won't help against Godzilla

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You need a license for everything nowdays. One needs a license to go hunting, a standardized test is required to operate a motor vehicle, and they don't let any old person jump into a plane and fly around. All these activities, as you may have noticed, require a great deal of responsibility, and involve holding other peoples' lives in the palm of one's hands. Everyone agrees; any activity which entails such accountability should be regulated.

This brings us to one of the biggest tasks in the world today in which the largest liability is held: being a parent. Laugh at first, but when seriously considered, the duty to raise a child is one not to be taken lightly. At any rate while so many other activities that bear equal or less responsibility to raising a human require one to seek permission or pass a test, parenting requires few prerequisites.

Take a moment to review what exactly is necessary to become a parent. First, there are the required body parts, which always seem to be around when needed. Secondly, there's a need to feel really good for a brief period of time, ranging from ten seconds to over an hour depending on those involved. Lastly, one needs someone else who also wishes for the first two things mentioned to happen. All in all, not a difficult recipe to bake up buns in an oven.

Not to fear though, the innovative Japanese have rescued us again. Yes, in Tokyo, Fathering Japan has designed a quiz of 50 questions to raise awareness about becoming a dad. The director of the non-profit organization Tetsuya Ando sums it up by saying, "there just isn't enough information about parenting for fathers."

Taking nothing away from the Japanese, they've only provided one step, although it is in the right direction. Their test is geared directly at fathers and is voluntary. Really, those who are taking these tests already have concern for their child and therefore probably don't need to take the quiz. Also their questions are a bit off target: "who played the father in the movie Kramer vs. Kramer?"

The idea, however, is a good one. The idea of a standardized parenting test is not as an absurd notion as it may seem. Almost all of human activity which puts others at risk requires one to obtain a license of some sort, so why isn't parenting including in this mix?

We should pick up where those guys in Tokyo left off. The test should probably be a bit longer. I can hardly imagine fifty questions is hardly sufficient in determining the ability to parent a child. It should also have a field test so to speak, perhaps a week in length. The test should also be for both genders. Sure, females have an edge on us guys in the natural parenting world, but this does not leave them exempt by any stretch of the imagination.

The most important change, though, is making the test mandatory for all parents. The exam's purpose should not be raising awareness about parenting, but an evaluation regarding if these two people are capable of raising a child in a healthy manner.

The icing on the cake for the test would be the time one would need to wait to re-take the examination if they failed. One to two years seems reasonable, and this would discourage the young'uns to go in there and wing it, hoping to pass. People who are serious about it would take the time to prepare, and that is exactly the goal the test would hope to achieve.

The system cannot be perfect of course, but would work much like driving a car. You don't need a license to actually get the car to run, but trouble is a brewing if the police find out you don't have a license. The same would be with parenting, although I'm not exactly sure how the penalties would be handed out. That issue can be left for future debate.

Parenting is not a job to be taken lightly, and it's time we all recognize that this sort of activity needs some sort of regulation. The "daddy quiz" is a step in the right direction, but this needs to be taken further.

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