What Would Socrates Say To Mrs Smith?

Philosophy Now 84:13-15 (2011)
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In the face of disobedience, and in the name of the short-term goal of a smooth-functioning and/or happy household, parents often feel caught between two diametrically opposed parenting strategies; make it happen or let it go. However, either strategy of dictator or friend can seriously jeopardize a child’s long-term best interests. If children, adolescents, young adults, full adults or oldsters are even to hear, let alone reasonably answer, the prudential and ethical “whys” that their intended actions scream, they will need to attend to health of their unique human capacity to reason. They will need to understand deeply that reason is not a capacity to be used solely in academic endeavors and/or for making a living, but rather that reason’s prime function is to assist in making the best of all possible lives. If parents want their children to understand this, then they need to walk the talk and invite reason into their homes. The result will be that authoritarian parents will need to let go, while “parents as friends” will need to belly up to the bar, in order to entrench the first rule of a reasonable household and that is that the best reason always wins.

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Susan Gardner
Capilano University


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