Parenting with Purpose

What is a parent supposed to be doing . . . as a parent? My friend Mike Austin is author of a book called Conceptions of Parenthood (Ashgate, 2007). In an excerpt on his “Morality and the Good Life” blog, Mike suggests that parents should endeavor to train their children in skills that will result in their well-being over the long haul. This, he says, encompasses the goal of preparing them to live autonomously. Mike interacts briefly with William Irvine (author of Doing Right By Our Children), who stresses the value of freedom.

I concur with Mike, and would argue that the best kind of freedom depends on being rational, and is experienced as a result of making consistently wise choices. So educating children for freedom is educating them in a tradition of wisdom. And that involves guidance through experiences of choosing wisely in comparatively safe situations when they’re young, and in increasingly challenging circumstances as they get older. This would surely empower them to be even more effective in using their freedom to achieve the best and highest goals as they enjoy greater autonomy.

If we who are parents succeed in this endeavor, our children may be our own wise counselors some day.

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About Doug Geivett
University Professor; PhD in philosophy; author; conference speaker. Hobbies include motorcycling, travel, kayaking, sailing.

One Response to Parenting with Purpose

  1. Mike Austin says:

    Hi Doug,
    I like how you’ve expanded on my post here. I think we can at least sometimes be too hesitant to offer our children opportunities to make wise choices in challenging circumstances in the hopes of protecting them, but the unfortunate consequence may be that they aren’t able to develop their freedom in the proper way. The result is greater harm, in the long run.

    Like

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