The various laws affecting children in their everyday lives have been shaped by public discussions of the family and of child well-being. The metanarrative of the private, autonomous family is very powerful within American society. It gives rise to a conception of the acceptable, desired family association. The public charges this association with responsibility for its child members. The adult members (parents) provide the financial resources necessary to secure the wellbeing of their children. At the least, they provide minimally adequate care and secure basic education and health care services.