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Raising a Child with Respect

Journal of Applied Philosophy

Published online on


Parents whose children will become adults are expected to help them do so, as opposed to only keeping them alive while they manage it on their own. The parental help must respect the child's standing as a separate individual: our children aren't ours to shape to our design, even if our aim is to help them flourish. But then how are we to raise our children with respect for their individuality? According to Matthew Clayton, doing so requires refraining from attempting to provide our child with any values that reasonable persons would dispute. According to Harry Brighouse and Adam Swift, it doesn't require that: parents have a right to try to instil values, including disputable ones, because they must have this right if families are to enjoy ‘family relationship goods’. I argue against Clayton's position, and against Brighouse and Swift's. I introduce a different approach, and flesh it out in light of a difficulty it faces. I then return to the initial problem, identifying some ways in which the approach I've offered explains how to raise one's child with respect.