Chapter 6: The Intergenerational Pact
Page 102 6. The intergenerational pact 1 MUTUAL ASSISTANCE BETWEEN PARENTS AND CHILDREN The whole of society is organized for the protection of its youngest members. Care is normally undertaken by families and it is the parents who see to the maintenance and welfare of their children until they are able to look after themselves. This is the principal provision of the tacit agreement amongst the generations that has always been the basis of human society. But there are some parents who cannot, or do not want to, care for their children, because they lack the necessary resources. Their personal circumstances prevent them from bearing such a responsibility or, quite simply, they are not interested in their children. Although obviously not the general rule, this does occur with relative frequency. The law establishes some minimum obligations, which would be unnecessary if all the members of society were altruistic towards their descendants and which, if not fulfilled, may lead to the loss of the parents’ rights over their children. In the same way, the law also fixes certain obligations for children with respect to their parents if the latter are unable to look after themselves. Legal regulation of the links between parents and children has resulted from a long historical process that has been manifest in customs and religious precepts as much as in civil legislation. The specific conditions set down in each society or culture have varied, with age, heritage or sex being used as criteria to establish a variety...
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