Reflections on CRC Article 18

Parents or Legal Guardians share responsibility for bringing up a child, and they should always consider what is best for that child. Governments should help by providing services to support them, especially if they work.

Laksmi Pamuntjak
29 October 2019

It usually starts with a simple wish: you want a baby. And you got one. Sometimes it just happens. Sometimes it is unsought and unplanned. Sometimes it’s born out of a want so strong, involving a lot of planning and sacrifice—physically, emotionally and financially. There’s all the hope and all the misery and all the joy that comes after.

Sometimes things go wrong: the baby is not well. From the minute it was born, from the minute you touched it, you knew something wasn’t right. Or maybe your doctor told you there was something wrong from the time it was still in your womb. You’re in a dilemma. You search deep into your faith, and into all the virtues by which you live: either you spare the baby the lifelong pain of living a half-life (or no life at all). Or you spare yourself and your family the same pain. Or you take whatever God gave you and look after it as best you can, for as long as you can.

You are reminded: anyone can be a parent, but a real parent is someone who puts that child above his or her own needs. Children shouldn’t have to sacrifice so you can have the life you want; you have to sacrifice so your children can have the life they deserve.

You are reminded, too, that a child is a gift, and that parenting is a tremendous responsibility. That it goes beyond merely fulfilling the child’s basic needs—education, health care, clothing, nourishment, shelter, love and support—and beyond merely knowing what makes the child happy and rearing the child up to become a responsible adult.

When two parents are involved, it’s a shared responsibility, the tasks of which are mainly commonsensical: becoming parents at the right age, planning the size of the family together, spacing between births to ensure the health of mother and children. It’s about having basic knowledge of child development and understanding how children’s needs and behaviours evolve across the lifespan. It’s about knowing that each child is unique and that there’s no one-size-fits all approach to parenting. It’s about behaving responsibly yourselves, the hardest of which is taking care of yourselves and each other. It is about being attentive and taking turns: doing household chores when your spouse is breastfeeding, making sure your spouse gets enough rest during pregnancy, creating a private space for your spouse to lactate, making optimal use of your paternity leave.

Last but not least, it’s about recognising the limitations of your knowledge and patience and reaching out to others: to family, teachers, therapists and counselors for support. It’s about knowing and demanding your rights to responsible parenting because it is the least that your child deserves.


Though this reflection was inspired by the accompanying photograph, the fictional text does not describe the life or story of any person depicted within it.


Convention on the rights of the child

In 1989, governments across the world promised all children the same rights by adopting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The Convention says what countries must do so that all children grow as healthy as possible, can learn at school, are protected, have their views listened to, and are treated fairly.

As part of Indonesia’s celebrations in November 2019, to mark the 30th anniversary of the CRC, UNICEF asked Indonesian author Laksmi Pamuntjak to help us envision some of these CRC articles. Inspired by photos and images from our database, and working with our programme specialists, Laksmi created 15 fictional texts on some of the most relevant articles for the Indonesian context.

Though these reflections were inspired by the accompanying photographs, the texts do not describe the life or story of any person depicted within them.