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  1. #1
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    An Exploration into "Parental Obligation"

    I debated whether this thread should be placed in Social or Philosophical, as I see it as a blending of the two. I shall try to be accurate in the intended focus and intent of this exploration to avoid any misunderstandings due to "mis-threading."

    General Question: What are the inherent moral obligations of parents towards their born child(ren)?

    Let's not get bogged down with "legal" obligations - as different areas of the world differ greatly in regards to family law. For this debate, let us agree to assume that laws are founded on some moral foundation (from whatever source floats your particular boat) and thus the question is intended to forgo the particulars of law and focus on the underlying roots of parental obligation.

    Secondly, I placed the word "born" in the OP to negate any attempt to turn this into an abortion topic. If you want to argue that a woman has a moral obligation to give birth, go find one of the hundreds of thousands of abortion threads out in cyberspace and get your jollies. For this debate, let us agree to ignore the condition of a child before birth, and focus on his/her life after exiting the womb.

    Sub-question #1: Should the moral obligations of "genetic" parents differ from "biological" parents? Why or why not?

    If a man donates his sperm, or a woman donates her eggs, to a fertility clinic to be used by other people - those would be strictly genetic parents.

    If a man and woman require the help of fertility doctors to use their own genetic material, or parents who just have kids the good ol' fashioned way (I'll tell you when you're older) - those would be biological parents.

    I'm not saying those definitions are perfect, and feel free to suggest revisions, but there are different methods of conceiving and bearing children due to technology. Should those new methods hold different obligations for the people involved?

    Sub-question #2: Should the moral obligations of adoptive parents differ from biological parents? Why or why not?

    I'm fairly sure I'm using adoptive in a way everyone will understand, but if not - again, feel free to ask for clarification.

    Sub-question #3: Should the moral obligations differ between mothers and fathers? Why or why not?

    I only have internet access Thursday night -Saturday afternoon, so please forgive the lag of response from Sunday - Thursday afternoon. I'm really hoping the community jumps into this debate and provides me intellectual snacks to mull over while internet-deprived. I promise to return and respond to all posts as soon as possible.
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  2. #2
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    Re: An Exploration into "Parental Obligation"

    General Question: What are the inherent moral obligations of parents towards their born child(ren)?

    In a nutshell...To teach and guide them. Most Importantly, we teach them to Love, Respect, The difference between right and wrong, Survival and Self Sufficiency (in thought and action)I think it is a wonderful question..I think morally we do have obligations to teach our children and lead by example..So many times I just want to react to things, but my children have taught me the one thing my parents failed to...Patienceand the ability to hold myself accountable for my words and actions..I feel morally obligated to handle situations, good and bad, in a manner in which I teach them to live..Sometimes that is the most difficult thing to do!
    Sub-question #1: Should the moral obligations of "genetic" parents differ from "biological" parents? Why or why not?

    I certainly do not feel a sperm donor,egg donor or embryo donor has a moral obligation, other than to be truthful about family medical history on his/her or their Bio sheet.However, personally I could not donate eggs or embryos, because I would feel responsible for them..

    ub-question #2: Should the moral obligations of adoptive parents differ from biological parents? Why or why not?
    No...I think aside from learning as much about the biological parents as possible,( in order to answer any questions that may arise)preparing themselves for all the tough questions and being sympathetic to the child's feelings on their biological parents and issues that concern their adoption..an adoptive parents moral obligations to their children is the same asa biological parents.
    Sub-question #3: Should the moral obligations differ between mothers and fathers? Why or why not?
    In the long run, No...But, certainly, each parent is responsible to teach their children different lessons..I know as a Mother, I feel an obligation towards my daughter that is different than I feel towards my son..But it is by no means any less than the obligation I feel towards him..I feel I am the example of how a mother, wife and woman acts for my daughter.
    I feel I teach my son how a wife should love her husband and I remind myself, that the manner I treat my husband is what my son might look for in a future wife...Of course I want my son to find a wonderful partner to share adulthood with, so I always try to be the woman I want my son to eventually grow to love...I know that sounds kinda icky..I just want him to see what a home of love, respect and partnership looks like.... and of course, for my husband, it is the same, but the scenario is opposite.

  3. #3
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    Re: An Exploration into "Parental Obligation"

    Children have rights, so their parents should abide by those rights. They go to school - the school has the responsibility of teaching them, not their parents. At school they are monitored, and then dealt with. It is not under the rescponsibility of the parents to do anything other than feed and house them, and not to mistreat them. Then they need to report drug abuse. That's about all the parents have to do, the rest is the responsibility of the school.
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    Re: An Exploration into "Parental Obligation"

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlatan View Post
    the school has the responsibility of teaching them, not their parents.
    Are you kidding? A child's most important teacher they will ever have is their parent! A Teacher can only do and teach so much..A teacher will not teach a child some of the most important lessons there are to learn. They will only teach them what is in the books..An elementary teacher usually has between 20- 30 students a year, It is up to parents to make sure their child is getting the education.A parent is an advocate for their children in every sense there is. A teacher is career..My child is just another student to their teachers..For me, they are everything. Education should always start at home.

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlatan View Post
    At school they are monitored, and then dealt with.
    It's school....Not the military..The school reports to the parents. Parents are left with ALL of the responsibility towards the child. Parents then make the choices in the end that will effect the child. Heck, I can at any moment pull my kids out of public School and home school them, send them to Private school..Whatever option I see as best for the well being of my child..In fact it is my OBLIGATION to them to do so..The school holds no such obligation. The school will still be standing regardless if my child is successful or not..They will not pay for their mistakes in my children's upbringing.
    Who do you think has the most influence in what a child experiences in life..A parent or a teacher that has them for only 5 hours a day, 7 days a week in about 8 months out of 1 year?
    A parent that is dependent upon a school to tell them about their child, is not a parent.
    Parents and teachers usually work closely together to try and give the children the best possible education and to address any possible concerns.. Parents that are uninvolved in their parents education, usually end up with children that will not reach their potential.

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlatan View Post
    That's about all the parents have to do, the rest is the responsibility of the school.
    WOW!!!! That is a load off...I have been working entirely too hard and worrying way too much!

  5. #5
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    Re: An Exploration into "Parental Obligation"

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlatan View Post
    Children have rights, so their parents should abide by those rights. They go to school - the school has the responsibility of teaching them, not their parents. At school they are monitored, and then dealt with. It is not under the rescponsibility of the parents to do anything other than feed and house them, and not to mistreat them. Then they need to report drug abuse. That's about all the parents have to do, the rest is the responsibility of the school.
    As an educator, I can tell you that your post is pure evil. The parents are the main educators and that is as it should be. The school teaches, but is certainly not responsible for teaching everything.

    The parents have huge responsibilities that go beyond the basic needs of a child. If you want a child do even be remotely decent at school you need to have the parental support to back up what is being taught at school or as an educator you have nothing.

    In other words if school is not important to the parents it is likewise not important to the child. Now you have a huge issue as the child is merely biding time until they are broke and on social services as they didn't take one of the most important times in their life very seriously.

    I see it day in and day out. Parents that support the school and push the child have children that learn how to deal with adversity and push on to be successful. Parents that do not support the school and yet support the child have children, in general, that act up in school as the parents take the child's side no matter what. This teaches the child that they have helicopter parents that will "fix" everything for them and thus they grow up with no sense of responsibility. Parents that do nothing have children that do nothing.

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  6. #6
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    Re: An Exploration into "Parental Obligation"

    Let's not jump the thread into a discussion on parents versus schools as priority caretakers of "education." Let's redirect back to the main focus - I think there are some interesting topics to discuss:

    Tink:
    In response to the general question you stated -

    Quote Originally Posted by tinkerbell
    In a nutshell...To teach and guide them.
    That nutshell would seem to exclude many things considered basic obligations; such as feeding, clothing... in essence, simply helping them survive so they can be taught and guided. Not that I necessarily think those are moral obligations, but I've seen others argue such.

    And not to play semantics, cause I hate that, but the word inherent means "permanent and inseparable element." It was my intention to find any obligations that cannot be surrendered, given up, gotten rid of, etc.

    So, the question that begs is: Are genetic and biological parents still responsible for teaching and guiding a child if there is also an adoptive parent? If you say no, than I would suggest that teaching is not an inherent obligation. If you say yes, how would you reconcile this obligation with the adoption. Can it be reconciled? Is adoption "immoral" in the sense that a parent tries to surrender an inseperable moral obligation to teach that child?

    Your answer to Question #1 was:

    Quote Originally Posted by tinkerbell
    I certainly do not feel a sperm donor,egg donor or embryo donor has a moral obligation, other than to be truthful about family medical history on his/her or their Bio sheet.
    I now ask this question as a follow-up: how is the location of where you placed your genetic material relevant to moral obligations? By this I of course mean...

    Guy A places his sperm directly into a woman's vagina, knowing that a child may result from his action, but not intending to become a "father."

    Guy B places his sperm into a plastic cup, knowing that a child may result from his action, but not intending to become a "father."

    Why is Guy B freed from moral obligations while Guy A isn't?

    Question #2:

    Quote Originally Posted by tinkerbell
    an adoptive parents moral obligations to their children is the same as biological parents.
    Follow-up question - If you see adoptive parents as being equally obligated as biological parents, would you argue that both types of parents have the same "rights" concerning the children?

    Question #3:

    Quote Originally Posted by tinkerbell
    In the long run, No...But, certainly, each parent is responsible to teach their children different lessons..
    What do you mean by, "in the long run"? In the short run, are the obligations different?

    I understand your personal examples, but are you suggesting that a mother shouldn't try to teach certain things to a son and vice versa as a moral imperative, or simply as a suggestive parenting style?

    Charlatan's turn -

    Quote Originally Posted by charlatan
    It is not under the rescponsibility of the parents to do anything other than feed and house them, and not to mistreat them. Then they need to report drug abuse.
    Again, I'd ask how you reconcile a moral obligation to feed and house a child with giving the child away to adoptive parents. If the adoptive parents don't feed and house the child adequately, is the biological parent morally accountable for failing at that obligation as well? If you say no, again I would say they are not inherent moral obligations.

    I also wonder how you came up with:
    1. give them food
    2. give them shelter
    3. give them safety (don't mistreat)
    4. report any drug abuse

    I don't see how #4 fits with your first three.

    Rogue Cardinal -

    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Cardinal
    Parents that do nothing have children that do nothing.
    I'm going to guess that you mean Custodial parents that do nothing... which is a grouping I didn't even consider in my OP. Are you perhaps suggesting that there are no inherent moral obligations until custody is accepted by a parent? Thus allowing adoption, as those parents chose to accept custody and the biological did not, to be a non-moral issue.

    However, could you reconcile this with the common held idea that a man cannot choose to not support a child if a mother chooses to keep it? Some would argue that the man has an inherent moral obligation to pay child support without accepting custody.

    I've found the insights so far very interesting and thought-provoking and look forward to returning in 4 days or so to see the replies and new responses.
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  7. #7
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    Re: An Exploration into "Parental Obligation"

    Quote Originally Posted by Socialgremlin View Post
    That nutshell would seem to exclude many things considered basic obligations; such as feeding, clothing... in essence, simply helping them survive so they can be taught and guided. Not that I necessarily think those are moral obligations, but I've seen others argue such.
    That is a legal obligation...and yes it is immoral to withhold food or shelter from your children..But what I felt you were asking, was more along the lines of the obligations that went beyond what we are legally required to provide.

    And not to play semantics, cause I hate that, but the word inherent means "permanent and inseparable element." It was my intention to find any obligations that cannot be surrendered, given up, gotten rid of, etc.
    Through adoption all legal rights can be surrendered..How much an individual decides to surrender is up to them..

    So, the question that begs is: Are genetic and biological parents still responsible for teaching and guiding a child if there is also an adoptive parent? If you say no, than I would suggest that teaching is not an inherent obligation. If you say yes, how would you reconcile this obligation with the adoption. Can it be reconciled? Is adoption "immoral" in the sense that a parent tries to surrender an inseperable moral obligation to teach that child?
    Not sure If I am really understanding what you are asking...I do know you already have a rebuttal...
    I think it depends on who has guardianship of said child..If I were giving up a child for adoption, I would feel obligated to make sure that child was in a loving, safe and caring home..After that, I would understand the need for me to let go and trust the adoptive parents to do their job. That child no longer is a part of my life, any obligation at that point may be confusing, unless some modern open adoption scheme was worked out..





    I now ask this question as a follow-up: how is the location of where you placed your genetic material relevant to moral obligations? By this I of course mean...

    Guy A places his sperm directly into a woman's vagina, knowing that a child may result from his action, but not intending to become a "father."

    Guy B places his sperm into a plastic cup, knowing that a child may result from his action, but not intending to become a "father."

    Why is Guy B freed from moral obligations while Guy A isn't?
    Cause the world is an unfair place and nothing is ever perfect..
    But guy A new with 100% certainty what his obligations were...B was playing a game of chance..He still had a choice not to play.
    Like you said, "he knowing that a child may result from his action"
    He may have no intention of being a father, but to ignore the consequence of his actions are not IMO moral..

    Follow-up question - If you see adoptive parents as being equally obligated as biological parents, would you argue that both types of parents have the same "rights" concerning the children?
    I was not taking the 2 as being related..But No...Legality has to come into play...The legal Guardian has the moral obligation to the child.





    I understand your personal examples, but are you suggesting that a mother shouldn't try to teach certain things to a son and vice versa as a moral imperative, or simply as a suggestive parenting style?
    Suggestive..and I would never suggest a parent that could provide a child something that would positively influence that child should not, based on gender.Anything a parent can offer a child to guide them towards a healthy life is good, no matter which parent it comes from..But, in my Leave it to Beaver style happy home, that is how we do it..We are very 1950's Doctor Spock over here. Alas gender role models is a valid issue in role modeling and moral obligation.
    I also feel two heads are usually better than one..Unless of course those both heads or even one of those 2 heads house morally and intellectually bankrupt brains..
    Last edited by tinkerbell; March 14th, 2009 at 04:43 PM.

  8. #8
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    Re: An Exploration into "Parental Obligation"

    Quote Originally Posted by Socialgremlin View Post
    General Question: What are the inherent moral obligations of parents towards their born child(ren)?
    I believe every parent has an inherent moral obligation to make their child feel safe and loved.

    I believe they have an obligation to ready them for adult life. A parent should teach their child self-confidence, compassion, social acceptance, life's lessons (for example, stranger danger, etc.)


    Quote Originally Posted by sg
    Sub-question #1: Should the moral obligations of "genetic" parents differ from "biological" parents? Why or why not?


    No, I don't believe they should. A parent is a parent. It's not how the child was born that should define on how they're raised. Every child is deserving of what I described as a parent's moral obligations



    Quote Originally Posted by sg
    Sub-question #2: Should the moral obligations of adoptive parents differ from biological parents? Why or why not?


    Absolutely not. See above.

    Quote Originally Posted by sg
    Sub-question #3: Should the moral obligations differ between mothers and fathers? Why or why not?


    I believe that it's not WHAT moral obligations differ between the two but HOW each parent's moral obligations differ that are important with a child.

    Certainly there's no difference between the mother and father in making a child feel safe and loved; however, when it comes to readying a child for adult life, each parent plays different roles in that area. Certainly both parents teach their child self-confidence, compassion, social acceptance and life's lessons but a father may teach his son in a much different manner than he would teach his daughter and visa versa (i.e. mother with son or daughter).
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  9. #9
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    Re: An Exploration into "Parental Obligation"

    Quote Originally Posted by Socialgremlin View Post

    Rogue Cardinal -



    I'm going to guess that you mean Custodial parents that do nothing... which is a grouping I didn't even consider in my OP. Are you perhaps suggesting that there are no inherent moral obligations until custody is accepted by a parent? Thus allowing adoption, as those parents chose to accept custody and the biological did not, to be a non-moral issue.
    I look at this very legally. When a parent has given up a child they are under no obligation what so ever to deal with the child in any way. Sometimes the parent simply knows they cannot take care of that child and must give the child up. Generally, this means they completely walk away. But not always. In some cases there are parents that give a child up to a better home, but do still have access to the child. however, because they have given all legal rights up to the custodians of the child they still have no moral obligation to the child at all. They can still "help out" in whatever capacity the custodial parents allow, but this is a situation worked out in courts.


    However, could you reconcile this with the common held idea that a man cannot choose to not support a child if a mother chooses to keep it? Some would argue that the man has an inherent moral obligation to pay child support without accepting custody.
    I'm not sure I follow you on this one. If a couple, say out of wedlock, have a child and the father doesn't want it but the mother does then one of two things can happen. He can sign the rights over to the mother and walk away or he can still want to be in the child's world and as such has to pay to play. The same works in reverse on the rare occasion that a woman gives the child up to the man. It really depends on the couple involved.

    I would say that if you help bring a life into this world you are bound to that child and should do your part. But legally a man or a woman do not have to. Both could give up the child and it could become a ward of the state or go into foster care.
    Last edited by Rogue Cardinal; March 15th, 2009 at 09:40 AM.

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    Re: An Exploration into "Parental Obligation"

    Quote Originally Posted by sylouette View Post
    I believe every parent has an inherent moral obligation to make their child feel safe and loved.

    I believe they have an obligation to ready them for adult life. A parent should teach their child self-confidence, compassion, social acceptance, life's lessons (for example, stranger danger, etc.)




    No, I don't believe they should. A parent is a parent. It's not how the child was born that should define on how they're raised. Every child is deserving of what I described as a parent's moral obligations





    Absolutely not. See above.



    I believe that it's not WHAT moral obligations differ between the two but HOW each parent's moral obligations differ that are important with a child.

    Certainly there's no difference between the mother and father in making a child feel safe and loved; however, when it comes to readying a child for adult life, each parent plays different roles in that area. Certainly both parents teach their child self-confidence, compassion, social acceptance and life's lessons but a father may teach his son in a much different manner than he would teach his daughter and visa versa (i.e. mother with son or daughter).

    Agree with all of the above.
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    Re: An Exploration into "Parental Obligation"

    Quote Originally Posted by tinkerbell View Post
    A Teacher can only do and teach so much..A teacher will not teach a child some of the most important lessons there are to learn. They will only teach them what is in the books.
    Even though I certainly don't side with Charlatan on this issue, what you're isn't exactly true. A good teacher can certainly inspire their children with very important life lessons, sometimes more so than their parents. I'm a very strong believer in the idea that it takes a village to raise a child, and while parents do and, in most cases, should have the last say with their children, and teachers certainly can't take a parental interest in all of their kids, teachers, and anyone with a directly influential role in a child's life, should take a strong interest in making sure that child turns out correctly.

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    Re: An Exploration into "Parental Obligation"

    Quote Originally Posted by czahar View Post
    Even though I certainly don't side with Charlatan on this issue, what you're isn't exactly true. A good teacher can certainly inspire their children with very important life lessons, sometimes more so than their parents. I'm a very strong believer in the idea that it takes a village to raise a child, and while parents do and, in most cases, should have the last say with their children, and teachers certainly can't take a parental interest in all of their kids, teachers, and anyone with a directly influential role in a child's life, should take a strong interest in making sure that child turns out correctly.
    Look, I agree, I teacher CAN do those things. I also believe it is their moral obligation to be a good role model in their students life..I am a Pre School teacher and my Mother is a teacher. But what I meant, was..Teachers are limited. Most life-lessons (Sex, Morality, Tradition) come from the home. Teachers have limited time and resources. One on one attention is usually difficult if not impossible. It is easy for a childs needs to be overlooked by an educator..Not to mention, there more so-so teachers out there, than there are, really amazing teachers,.
    Teachers are also discouraged and or forbidden from discussing certain things with students.. I also believe it takes a village, but to say, it is a teachers job to educate and mold a child, and the parents have no responsibility there, is ignorant.

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    Re: An Exploration into "Parental Obligation"

    giving birth to a child is implicit assumption of the responsibility for its health and happiness until that child is old enough to think and act for his or herself.

    this includes making sure all needs are met, and it includes adequate preparation for adult life.

    "genetic" parents as you define them have no inherent obligations, as they are not choosing to bring a child into the world so much as giving away their genetic material for use by someone else.

    adoptive parents take up the responsibility of biological parents when they willfully give it up.

    once responsibility has been surrendered, all obligations go along with it, assuming someone else has been found who agreed to take them up. the obligations can be "passed on" to another willing party... but not simply abandoned completely.

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    Re: An Exploration into "Parental Obligation"

    Thanks for the continued debate while I was away.

    Quote Originally Posted by tinkerbell
    But what I felt you were asking, was more along the lines of the obligations that went beyond what we are legally required to provide.
    Sorry for the confusion then - I was specifically asking what moral obligations would exist without laws. Laws change based on culture, government style, era, etc. I'm looking to explore the fundamental inherent moral obligations, if there are any.

    Quote Originally Posted by tinkerbell
    yes it is immoral to withhold food or shelter from your children
    So... starving family scenerio... living out in the woods... nobody else to give the baby to. Are the parents morally obligated to give what food they have to the baby first, and then themselves? Are they just obligated to share evenly? I guess I'm confused on the word "withold" in your post - the word denotes an active attempt to deny a child something instead of just a passive, "We can't feed everyone" situation - was that your intent?

    Quote Originally Posted by tinkerbell
    Through adoption all legal rights can be surrendered
    But can the moral obligations underlying the "legal" considerations be surrendered? A woman gives birth to a baby, tells the midwife or nurse, "Don't want it. Give it to someone else," and then walks away. Was that moral or not?

    I understand legally this can't happen in our society at this time, but before laws it was a possible situation. What were the moral implications in that scenerio?

    I believe this is important because looking at what we consider moral before laws provides a context for why we have certain laws... and laws that don't conform to that underlying morality would be "bad" laws.

    Quote Originally Posted by tinkerbell
    Cause the world is an unfair place and nothing is ever perfect..
    So I'm a hopeless idealist... but isn't that why you love me?

    As for my example, I don't think you addressed it at all. Both guys knew there was a chance a woman would become pregnant by their actions. Both guys took the risk; one for pleasure, and one for profit. (by the way, wouldn't that be prostitution in a weird way?!) The only difference is one put his sperm directly into a vagina, and one put his sperm into a cup. Is location really that much of a factor in morality?

    Quote Originally Posted by sylouette
    I believe every parent has an inherent moral obligation to make their child feel safe and loved.
    So again, how is that reconciled with adoption? Surrendering a child to some random person or community entity doesn't seem to qualify as making the child feel safe and loved. I'm sure the surrendering biological parent may hope the child will be safe and loved, but they can't guarantee it.

    Quote Originally Posted by sylouette
    A parent should teach their child self-confidence, compassion, social acceptance, life's lessons (for example, stranger danger, etc.)
    And a parent who teaches their child self-confidence, but not social acceptance; who teaches compassion is not as important as strength and aggressiveness; who teaches non-acceptance of people who lie outside of their moral belief system... would that parent be 1/4 moral and 3/4 immoral?

    While I personally think those are good goals for a parent to have, I don't think they are universally accepted enough to be called moral obligations.

    Quote Originally Posted by sylouette
    Every child is deserving of what I described as a parent's moral obligations
    Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by sylouette
    A parent is a parent.
    So Sperm Donor Dan is as much the father of little Kimmy as Sterile Steve - who of course is married to Wants to be a Biological Mommy Wanda?

    Quote Originally Posted by rogue cardinal
    I look at this very legally. When a parent has given up a child they are under no obligation what so ever to deal with the child in any way.
    So are you suggesting that without laws there is no obligation? Going back to my above example with Tink (the mom just walking away [figuratively] after giving birth), you see nothing morally wrong? To borrow from a classic hypothetical and twist it; if a mom gives birth in the woods, and no one knows, can she just leave it there?

    Quote Originally Posted by rogue cardinal
    I would say that if you help bring a life into this world you are bound to that child and should do your part.
    Ah, hid it near the end of your post. Without laws, since you look at it very legally, what is your basis for the above quote? Does that apply to Sperm Donor Dan or Frozen Embryo Freida?

    Quote Originally Posted by dissonantbella
    giving birth to a child is implicit assumption of the responsibility for its health and happiness until that child is old enough to think and act for his or herself.
    Since men cannot "give birth" to a child, is there any implicit assumption of a father's responsibility? And where does this "implicit" assumption come from - do you believe it is just a natural instinct mechanism that seems to be prevalent in mammals?

    Quote Originally Posted by dissonantbella
    this includes making sure all needs are met, and it includes adequate preparation for adult life.
    What are the "needs?" Who defines "adequate" preparation for adult life. My parents never taught me the legal phrasing needed to adequately understand a mortgage without a lawyer's assistance, costing me capital - was this an immoral failure on their part?

    Quote Originally Posted by dissonantbella
    adoptive parents take up the responsibility of biological parents when they willfully give it up.
    So the implicit assumption of taking care of a child's health and happiness can be surrendered... how does that mean there was an assumption to begin with? "Here you go State of Flori-Ohio-Wiscon-Cali-ington... find someone else to assume the responsibility." Doesn't seem like the parent had any obligation to insure the health and happiness of the child at all - just the obligation to pass the responsibilities along to whomever wants them.

    I know I'm challenging everything - it's because I really did start this thread without a firm stance of my own. Part of me is reading this thread and saying, "Guess there's only a moral obligation once custody is accepted," and the other part of me is going, "But that doesn't seem right."

    Thanks for all the great posts so far, I'm looking forward to more responses.
    “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
    ~Carl Gustav Jung
    "When dealing with the insane, the best method is to pretend to be sane."
    ~Hermann Hesse

  15. #15
    bounty2009
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    Re: An Exploration into "Parental Obligation"

    I firstly (and personally) think that if you give birth to a child you have an obligation to a number of key issues within the child's life. I'll skip to the last point though. i think that mother's and father's obligations do differ. However, one area to also think about is if these obligations still remain if the parents are seperate. Is the father still responsible (lets say for the purpose of this argument) with giving the son the sex talk, shaving lessons etc (sorry for the very cliched ideas..) if the father only sees the child on weekends? Or do we have to realise that every situation is different and no two children are ever brought up in the same circumstances?

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    Re: An Exploration into "Parental Obligation"

    Quote Originally Posted by bounty2009
    However, one area to also think about is if these obligations still remain if the parents are seperate. Is the father still responsible (lets say for the purpose of this argument) with giving the son the sex talk, shaving lessons etc (sorry for the very cliched ideas..) if the father only sees the child on weekends? Or do we have to realise that every situation is different and no two children are ever brought up in the same circumstances?
    Good questions. If there are inherent moral obligations for parents, then the answer must be yes - the seperated father in the example is still responsible for the "fatherly" parental obligations.

    Yet no one has successfully proven there are inherent moral obligations for parents.

    The closest we've come is if a parent accepts custody or parental "rights" over a child, then there are obligations to be met. What if there is a new "Dad" in your hypothetical situation... who has the moral obligations?

    Your statement about seeing every situation as different seems to imply a moral relativism should be applied to even parenthood - there are no inherent morals outside of what the current society requires through laws.
    “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
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    Re: An Exploration into "Parental Obligation"

    Quote Originally Posted by Socialgremlin View Post


    So are you suggesting that without laws there is no obligation? Going back to my above example with Tink (the mom just walking away [figuratively] after giving birth), you see nothing morally wrong? To borrow from a classic hypothetical and twist it; if a mom gives birth in the woods, and no one knows, can she just leave it there?
    No.

    What I am suggesting is that "when" a parent surrenders their rights to a child they are legally under no obligation to the child.

    I am NOT saying that it is moral or good or legal to simply walk away from a child, as in leave it in the dumpster.

    If mom gives birth in the woods.....she should raise that child because it's hers......UNLESS.....(here's where I am coming from)..she goes through the proper channels (ie foster parents, adoption agency, etc) to surrender the child to a person or persons that will care for the child in there place.




    Ah, hid it near the end of your post. Without laws, since you look at it very legally, what is your basis for the above quote? Does that apply to Sperm Donor Dan or Frozen Embryo Freida?
    Legally....Sperm Donor Dan and Frozen Embryo Freida fit neatly into my little box. AS they have surrendered sperm or eggs to a facility that legally takes over ownership and responsibility.

    Sperm Donor Dan did not do the impregnating. Someone took his sperm and used it for their own profit so that someone else might have a child.

    It's crazy to think that Sperm Donor Dan or Frozen Embryo Freida would have any moral or legal responsibilities to a child that was born without their knowledge though their DNA was used, in that these things were surrendered legally and thus they have no more responsibility with those items as they no longer belong to them.

    Your analogy at this point would be like:

    You owned a car.

    You sold it to me.

    I caused a wreck with the car I bought from you.

    The victims sue you because you sold me the car and if you hadn't the accident would have never happened.

    DO you have a moral obligation to the car? No you have legally gien ownership over to someone else.

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    Re: An Exploration into "Parental Obligation"

    Quote Originally Posted by rogue cardinal
    I am NOT saying that it is moral or good or legal to simply walk away from a child, as in leave it in the dumpster.
    Of course it's not legal, but again; this discussion is concerning what underlies the laws. I'm glad you stated that it is also not moral or good. That's what I'm looking for.

    So you can see no instances where the moral choice would be to leave a child in the woods?

    Quote Originally Posted by rogue cardinal
    If mom gives birth in the woods.....she should raise that child because it's hers......UNLESS.....(here's where I am coming from)..she goes through the proper channels (ie foster parents, adoption agency, etc) to surrender the child to a person or persons that will care for the child in there place.
    So there is a moral obligation to the child because she "owns" the child, ie, that child "is hers?" Again though, you bring in "proper channels" which require laws to function... let's go back to my original situation with Tink (before I just said "leave it in the woods"): A mother gives birth to a child with the help of a midwife "in the woods." The mother simply tells the midwife, "You take it, I'm done," and walks away.

    She didn't leave the child alone in the woods. The midwife was not expecting this to happen, but now has a child in her arms. Can the mother morally do this? Is the midwife now morally obligated to either care for the child or hand it to someone else? What if the midwife doesn't and also says, "Screw this - I ain't the baby's mom," leaving it on the ground and walking away... who failed in the supposed moral obligation to provide that child safety?

    Quote Originally Posted by rogue cardinal
    AS they have surrendered sperm or eggs to a facility that legally takes over ownership and responsibility.
    So would it be moral to allow the man in a direct sexual act to have a generic written contract stating, "I am surrendering my sperm to you for purely pleasurable purposes, and any child produced by the accidental failure of the birth control, during this act or a future encounter between us, shall not be assumed to be under my responsibility to raise or provide for," have the woman sign it, and have his parental obligations "removed?"

    Could a woman do the same thing - except her contract wouldn't state sperm, more like "allowing you to enter my blah blah blah."?

    If both can do so, and do such... who would then have the moral obligation to any child?
    “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
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    Re: An Exploration into "Parental Obligation"

    Quote Originally Posted by Socialgremlin View Post
    Of course it's not legal, but again; this discussion is concerning what underlies the laws. I'm glad you stated that it is also not moral or good. That's what I'm looking for.

    So you can see no instances where the moral choice would be to leave a child in the woods?
    I cannot think of a time when leaving a child in the woods would be a good moral choice. Perhaps if that child was the dark lord! HAHAHAHA But seriously, I think it would be a terrible thing to leave a child in the woods to die.

    I suppose, one might make the argument that if the child was born with birth defects then it might be OK. I don't support that line of thought at all, but one could make the argument.


    So there is a moral obligation to the child because she "owns" the child, ie, that child "is hers?"
    you make it....you take it.


    Again though, you bring in "proper channels" which require laws to function... let's go back to my original situation with Tink (before I just said "leave it in the woods"): A mother gives birth to a child with the help of a midwife "in the woods." The mother simply tells the midwife, "You take it, I'm done," and walks away.
    If the midwife accepts the responsibility and wishes to keep the child for herself....what is the damage? Anybody that can love a child can raise a child no matter if it is their child or not.

    I feel that the mother, assuming the midwife WANTS the infant, did the moral thing by ensuring the child will be taken care of.


    She didn't leave the child alone in the woods. The midwife was not expecting this to happen, but now has a child in her arms. Can the mother morally do this? Is the midwife now morally obligated to either care for the child or hand it to someone else? What if the midwife doesn't and also says, "Screw this - I ain't the baby's mom," leaving it on the ground and walking away... who failed in the supposed moral obligation to provide that child safety?
    IF the midwife says, "Piss off. I've got my own issues" then the mother is still morally obligated to take the child. IF the mother still runs away leaving the midwife with the baby the midwife is now morally obligated to take the baby to the "proper authorities" and report the mother for neglect.



    So would it be moral to allow the man in a direct sexual act to have a generic written contract stating, "I am surrendering my sperm to you for purely pleasurable purposes, and any child produced by the accidental failure of the birth control, during this act or a future encounter between us, shall not be assumed to be under my responsibility to raise or provide for," have the woman sign it, and have his parental obligations "removed?"
    Rather unromantic and rather silly. Get rid of the "surrendering sperm" part. If a man and a woman, both of legal age, consent to have sex and the woman would sign such a contract.....well it's binding and all that jazz.

    In most cases I think a woman would leave the bed chamber at the moment he whips out is.....contract! hehehe




    Could a woman do the same thing - except her contract wouldn't state sperm, more like "allowing you to enter my blah blah blah."?

    If both can do so, and do such... who would then have the moral obligation to any child?
    In the first instance the man removed himself from the child legally and the woman accepted legal custody and responsibility.

    In the second instance the man, if he so agreed, would be the responsible party as she would have signed her rights away and he would have agreed to full responsibility.

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