Ethical Parenting

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Lisa Miller, contributing editor for New York magazine, talks about ethical parenting, or how parents engage in behavior that is various degrees of corrupt on behalf of their kids. 

Is it possible to be an ethical parent? Tell us below in the comments!


Lisa Miller

Comments [28]

Jason from NJ

There's a difference between wanting your child to do well and wanting them to be "better than everyone else". One motive is realistic and focused on the child. The other is focused on yourself and incredibly egocentric.
At the end of the day if there were enough jobs for these kids when they grew up and enough good schools for them now this wouldn't be an issue.

Oct. 12 2013 10:40 AM

I loved the topic and the episode. I wish Lisa would have elaborated more on the distinctions between doing things for your children's benefit that didn't harm anyone and those things that may unfairly take away opportunities from others. Also, if your child realizes you're helping them in an unethical way, are you really helping them? Are you harming them by setting a bad example? What if you keep your unethical actions separate? What about people who simply feel that you have to take what you can in this world? I wrote about this a bit myself:

I would not that just because you have a "laser focus" on your children doesn't mean you're inappropriately intervening. A mindful parent may sit back and watch their child fail, ready to help them learn from their mistakes.

Oct. 11 2013 02:05 PM

In thinking about the last questioner, who asked if older parents are more likely to use a more business-like approach to parenting, I've decided that it's more that the country's overall approach to education is business-oriented, so parents are responding to the schools' demands.

Oct. 10 2013 05:20 PM

The selfishness, it hurts.

Oct. 10 2013 03:24 PM
Woods from Brooklyn, NY

This conversation is so obviously about and for wealthy parents.

Oct. 10 2013 02:00 PM
BonnieSue from Connecticut

When parents lie about where they live (for example a town in Connecticut)so that their student can attend a better school out of their district, it is costing the neighboring community a minimum of 14,000.
That is the MINIMUM per annum cost of educating each student in public school. So how is that fair? Should I pay for your child when I can barely afford to pay my mortgage and property tax?

Oct. 10 2013 01:11 PM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Helping one's children with homework does not necessarily mean doing their homework for them.

Oct. 10 2013 12:32 PM
William from Manhattan

As the parent of a 1 1/2 year old, I was astonished at how early friends started urging us to angle to get our daughter into the "right" pre-school. I laughed it off, but I'm beginning to look around and realizing that there is a genuine misalignment between the number of preschool places and the children who want to attend.

There is a certain irony here in that most of the people who are desperately trying to get their kids into the too few preschool slots are themselves ardent believers in the free market. Where is the power of the market in preschools to align supply and demand?

Oct. 10 2013 12:32 PM
Marie from Philadelphi

What this woman is talking about is truly the base of our society coming apart at the seams. This is exactly why we are now a complete society of self-indulgent, IN-capable, candy-assed babies who can do nothing for themselves. They EXPECT mommy or daddy to constantly take care of them, do for them, FIX THEIR EVERY PROBLEM. The past 2 generations are a disaster. Humans are supposed to LEAR to stand on their own 2 feet and manage their own lives. What a mess.

Oct. 10 2013 12:31 PM
John A

Demonstration that we may have a morality illiterate generation (parents) on our hands. "The Selfish Gene" turns 40 in a couple of years, hope we dash it's influence finally, and soon.

Oct. 10 2013 12:31 PM
Heidi from Manhattan

My husband and I never lied, or "crossed the line" with our children's educational opportunities. Regardless of what the rest of the city is doing, it's wrong. What's good for everyone is good for the individual. If not, then you need to work to change it. If you don't vaccinate then you get an outbreak. It's not rock science its being ethical

Oct. 10 2013 12:31 PM
Amy from Manhattan

If rich people say they live in a meritocracy & then cheat, doesn't that imply they don't think they themselves are deserving?

Oct. 10 2013 12:31 PM
Jessie Henshaw from way uptown

I think the discussion is missing the big issue, that the "morality" of the public sphere is entirely different from that of the private world of the family. Family decisions are made for the good of the whole family and community, where as public sphere decisions are made for taking advantage of advantages...

It's a great systemic difference of strategy between the two worlds...!! [homme making v. conquest] and we live in both.

Oct. 10 2013 12:30 PM

Kids watch EVERYTHING.

And not just the actions of their parents, but society at large.

What lessons are they learning, for example, from the Shutdown, or NYU's ravaging of the Villages?

Oct. 10 2013 12:29 PM
Brenda from Ridgewood

Isn't this the same thing as privatizing the profits and socializing the losses? Does this happen abroad?

Oct. 10 2013 12:28 PM

My parents were extremely ethical when I was growing up in the 80s. We were taught right from wrong and my parents followed all the rules. Guess what? Nice guys finish last. I cannot tell you how many kids had advantages over us for taking advantage of this or that.

While I am proud of my family and love my upbringing, it really does have a impact financially in my life.

Oct. 10 2013 12:26 PM

If parents do homework and networking for their children, are children not getting the message that they don't measure up? How do they get experience?

Oct. 10 2013 12:26 PM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

I am always surprised to hear the level at which parents do everything for their children - especially since, presumably, these parents are part of the work world, and have likely experienced a new crop of millenials who seem unmotivated and entitled when it comes to their work ethic. Did any of the parents your guest interviewed experience the results of this over-parenting in their work places?

Oct. 10 2013 12:26 PM
Lauren Thompson from Brooklyn

Please leave IEPs out of this discussion about ethical parenting. In NYC public schools, it can be very hard to get an IEP, and also hard to have it fully implemented.

Also, I don't agree that most parents want what's best for their kids over what's best for others, to the point of doing kids' work for them. Maybe among a certain class, but please, this is just sensationalist "journalism."

Oct. 10 2013 12:24 PM
Kate from Brooklyn

Anyone who thinks the parents are doing this for the kids are kidding themselves. The parents are doing it because they see their kids' success as a sign of their own success.

Also, this is a limited discussion of what "ethics" is. It's just about schools and the competitive environment of NYC.

Ethics enter into a whole range of social, civic, and family interactions. It's not just about getting into an Ivy League school.

Oct. 10 2013 12:24 PM
Embee from Morningside Heights

My goodness, this is so class biased! It's not about ethical parenting writ large -- it's about ethical parenting (or the lack thereof) in families with privilege. How sad that this focus (in NY Mag and on WNYC) only reinforces the sense of a divide between Haves and Have-Nots. What about a discussion of ethical child-raising in families where both parents are working more than one full-time job, where their housing options suck, where the available public schools are lousy -- in other words, what about people whose choices are entirely different from, and far more constraining than, those of the affluent?

Oct. 10 2013 12:21 PM
Katherine from New Jersey

I was in the car with my high school freshman, thinking about this article, when I turned to her and said "I read this article which discusses the lengths that other parents will go to in order to make sure that their children succeed. I can't do that -- I refuse to do your homework and I don't have $22,000 to spend on SAT tutoring. I don't know what to do! I know you're in all Honors classes, but it's only a suburban high school in New Jersey. If you think about it, there are only 50,000 spaces per year at the top colleges in this country, and every one of them is going to be taken up by some hothouse flower from New York from these elite private schools. I don't know what to think! Should we just assume that your life is pretty much toast." She snorted and told me that I worry way too much!

Oct. 10 2013 12:21 PM
Oscar from NY

I actually think that parents are terrorist in some manner.. When I was a kid I hated my parents because I was poor and do I didn't have the latest clothes and stuff and so I went thru a lot with everyone at my schools, I thank my parents for feeding me and giving shelter that's all , I learned thru my own and now I just say hi to them with courtesy and honor.
Most parents like Abraham's want to live their lives thru their kids I cannot stand watching some if these kids wearing yamakas or earrings or turbans don't parents know this is not healthy.. Kids belong to god and advice is absolete .. No wonder Muhammad was an orphan..parents can be detrimental because they don't know everything.. And also Jesus says to hate them.. Leave your kids alone they will or gonna be who they are no matter what you do or say..

Oct. 10 2013 12:21 PM
Robin from Harlem

"Kid"? Can't we say "child"? Somehow this whole slant makes parents •and* their children sound like smarmy connivers; referring to "the kid" rather than "the child" reinforces that.

Oct. 10 2013 12:14 PM
nona from Bronx

Just started listening to this woman...actually turned it off because I couldn't believe that she said, "Of course, you want your children to do better than everyone else." (And then I turned it back on to "watch the crash.")

I don't mean for this to be a personal attack but she is infuriating. What about "It takes a village." REALITY CHECK. This woman has no moral compass herself. For example, it is clear that doing your kids homework night after night is wrong. Grow up!

She reported this by talking to so many experts. She ought to meditate on moral values and modelling your child's behavior before writing this. Plus, it is such a bourgeois discussion, I'm gonna turn off again.

Usually love the show. Cheers.

Oct. 10 2013 12:14 PM
John A

Thank-you for this useful documentation of casual amorality in america. It does wrench my guts somewhat to hear it, but knowledge of a problem is partially power over it.

Oct. 10 2013 12:12 PM

...oh, wait... was the radio on??


Oct. 10 2013 12:12 PM
genejoke from Brooklyn

An ethical parent? Show me one mom or dad who wouldn't do ANYTHING to help their child get a leg up. Of course there's a line you shouldn't cross but it's a biological imperative.

Oct. 10 2013 12:09 PM

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