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Parent-Child Relationship



It is difficult to identify exactly why parents have an obligation to their children, yet it is the case that we believe that this obligation exists. Many parents will instinctively put themselves in life threatening danger to help or save their children without thinking about it, although with a few exceptions. They do not moralize or justify it. It might be beyond philosophy altogether that a parent-child duty is not born out of moral obligation but instinctively.

Most of the laws we have about parent-child relationships are under-scored by an assumed natural order of things or reference to some pre-existing moral obligation. It is thought that parents must care and sacrifice themselves for the welfare of their children. On what grounds do parents have an obligation of a duty of care to their children? Duty is when the parties involved come together to agree or consent either explicitly or tacitly to some course of action which obviously the young children cannot understand or engage in.

Children are the off-springs of the parents and are obviously dependent on them, so there exists a duty. But some society sees the child as the responsibility of the entire family or village, so the children are not uniquely dependent on the parent. For those who have children, a parent feels duty bound to raise and nurture that child and helping them to grow into a happy well-rounded human being. The parent-child duty care is sacred, inviolable and unquestionable. When a child is born but it turns out that the child is not well-rounded or far from being happy that same parent blames him/herself. The moral duty we place on a parent-child relationship is largely cultural, not biological because children have been known to be abused, abandoned or sold into slavery.

To doubt and challenge the fact that a parent is morally obliged to their child is repulsive because they are supposed to love and cater for their children. But in cases of abuse or neglect when the parent break the duty of care it can evoke a primal hatred in us though the neglect might be accrued to a hard life or one factor or the other. For example when a parent acknowledges that the child would be better raised by the state or an alternative set of parents, are they obligated to give the child up? That is a cause of debate instead of being judgemental, the root cause of the neglect should be investigated and dealth with.

A parent puts his/her life at risk for the child instinctively for instance when a parent saves a child from danger (fire/road accident) or donates a life saving organ to the child whether in so doing it kills the parent. If that is their duty what about the duty to other children as well in the case of more than one child. Is that not a"Life for a life" dilemma and is the child's life worth more than the parents? Is there a justification in it, especially in a scenario where a pregnancy is complicated and the doctor asks whom to save either the mother or the baby?

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Role conflicts and restrictions on freedom may cause marital dis-satisfaction among parents. Taking on a child who is dependent on you, forfeiting the opportunity to self-actualize, weighing everything you do to suit your child's needs may cause some un-happiness especially when you do not feel fulfilled in that area. The way a parent approaches parenting may have substantial effects on their happiness. Parenting model may not be a very productive model, we all have much to learn about parenthood, we learn, create and innovate along the way, checking what works for us.

Therein lies the parent-trap feeling anxious, guilty or caged. Even though parenting is difficult to do, as parents we must be able to find a balance. When feeling overwhelmed it is important to take time out. We must care for ourselves too even as we care for our children. Seek advice and counsel from those who are more experienced and knowledgeable than us and accept help when necessary, knowing that ultimately it all boils down to us.

© 2022 Maureen Anene

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