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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Parenthood, the Great Moral Gamble

By Claire Creffield
Originally published August 20, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

This moral vulnerability to luck is pervasive, because nothing at all that we do as parents is fully under our control. Some people, for instance, have to do their parenting in very challenging circumstances. The parent of a child of difficult temperament, in a country whose gun laws make it easy for the mentally ill to obtain lethal weapons, is more likely than another parent to find him or herself morally implicated in murder. The essay “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother” drew an enormous readership online and gave voice to the anxiety felt by parents who fear their emotionally troubled kids could become violent.

We are also vulnerable to chance in our own personalities—the good and bad traits we happen to possess, which of course affects our parenting. We have only a limited control over our characters; for some people, being a dedicated, attentive, engaged parent is just easier. That doesn’t make it wrong to praise them. It means that they are lucky enough to earn praise for good actions that come naturally to them. Others are unlucky enough to be blamed for deficits they did not choose. Of course, we can do battle with our shortcomings, and we can admire people who are good despite themselves, by a constant effort of will. But even this effort of will is something that some people are lucky enough to find easier than others. When it comes to our guilt or innocence as parents, we are at the mercy of chance.

The entire article is here.