Journal Article

The Best Interests of the Child? Is <i>the Best Interests of the Child</i> in the Best Interests of Children?

Michael Freeman

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 11, issue 3, pages 360-388
Published in print August 1997 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online August 1997 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI:
The Best Interests of the Child? Is the Best Interests of the Child in the Best Interests of Children?

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The writings of Goldstein, Freud and Solnit, particularly some of the concepts they developed, have exercised a profound influence on our thinking about children. A new, revamped, final, authoritative edition presents the opportunity for critical re-assessment. The author finds a partial analytical framework, a dated image of children, a narrow concept of children's rights, triggers for intervention which leave children dangerously exposed and, above all, a sense diat events have moved on leaving the most influential text of this generation firmly rooted in the ideas, problems and concepts of the last.

The publication in one revised volume of the landmark trilogy of Beyond, Before and In1 provides an excuse, if one were needed, to assess the impact and re-evaluate the arguments contained within the three monographs and now compressed and updated. Whether or not one agrees with all, or even any, of the ideas contained within Best Interests (as I shall now call the collection), and I shall criticize both applications and implications, the concepts have impressed themselves, perhaps indelibly, on our thinking about children. Like it or not, anyone thinking about child law or policy, the relation between parents and children, the state and family, has to grapple with concepts like ‘least detrimental alternative’, the ‘psychological parent’, a child's sense of time and others of the rich ideas which permeate Best Interests.2

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Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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