'License to Parent' - provocative new documentary by S.A. man
What do you think of the idea of requiring parents to have a license?
It's the kind of radical idea that can bring out very strong emotions. And whether you would support it or condemn it, just posing the question brings up some very important issues.
'License to Parent' is the title of a new documentary film in the works by a San Antonio man I'm pretty sure you'll recognize - if you've lived here for a while.
"We need a license in this country to do just about anything," the announcer begins over the title sequence.
"...To drive a car. To operate a business. To go fishing... Yet for what is probably the most important job that any of us will ever have, being a parent, there is no requirement at all."
George Siegal is both the narrator of the film and its director.
He knows that just the phrase 'License to Parent' scares some people. "Because they think 'Is government really going to tell me I can't have a child? Do I need to have a license for this stuff?' And the answer is no, but... the idea is to create better laws, be a part of better laws that protect children to begin with. It's like once the system intervenes and helps out or takes a kid away, it's already too late. That child's damaged. So there needs to be something better in place to keep that from happening."
His film explores some of the ideas on how to improve parenting that Siegal and others think we should at least be considering.
Some of the experts he's interviewing are from across the country. Others are from San Antonio, including Judge Peter Sakai, who talks about children raising children.
You may recognize the name George Siegal, or maybe his face or voice, from his years on TV news as a weatherman at News 4 San Antonio.
But when he got out of the news business 15 years ago, he started his own production company and is now into documentaries.
This one he's clearly passionate about.
"Yeah, I have five kids and so it's a natural thing. Every day I'm thinking 'how good a job am I doing as a parent?' and I'm always second guessing myself. When you make a video or do a project that actually makes a difference in somebody's life, it's a great feeling. You know I look back at my career and I go how many things that I go 'Yeah, wow that's amazing!'? That's what this project is going to be. I want that."
The film looks at the importance of identifying parents-to-be who are 'at risk.' And better parenting education in schools and hospitals.
"I mean the only thing they do for you at the hospital is make sure your car seat is in."
Siegal's in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign right now, raising the money to make sure his film gets finished.
"It's a real challenge to raise the money. I've been working hard at it. Hopefully this will all come together in the next 20 days or so and then I'll be full-fledged into the project... drawing attention to trying to improve parenting in this country. And the bar is so low that somebody needs to do something and I hope I'm able to make a difference"