Parenting and Advice

August 18, 2006 at 3:03 am Leave a comment

In discussions between people with and without kids, it is very common for the one with kids to criticize the one without by saying something like, “you don’t know what its like until you have kids.” Implying of course, that one needs to actually have kids before one can empathize & give advice/criticism to those with kids.

Of course, this reply does nothing to address the quality of that advice, but it does have a point to it: understanding can be a long process, and often times involves being engaged in what you’re tying to learn.

There is another criticism of those without kids, that ususally comes from parents — and it is typically directed as kids who didn’t like how they were raised: “We did our best. Wait till you have kids, and you can see how hard it is.” This argument is a little different than the appeal to experience (above), and it has some problems with it.

1. Children have a right to complain about how they were raised, after all they are complaining about how they were raised from their perspective … that is the whole point! Whether they have kids, or understand what it was like for their parents is beside the point; that would only be relevant if the kids were saying they could do a better job had they been in the same situation — criticizing someone for something does not imply one could do better.

2. Having kids is irrelevant to evaluating one’s own life. If someone had a bad childhood, it was bad to them despite that fact that people at different times, places and relationships. In other words, it may change someone’s perspective — but changing one’s perspective alone doesn’t invalidate the old perspective.

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Entry filed under: social philosophy.

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