Forward Thinking: What Do We Owe Our Parents?

I’ts that time of the month again! Head on over to Camels with Hammers to see Dan’s roundup of the posts written in response to his prompt on punishment and moral failures two weeks ago, and with that said, it’s time to turn to our next Forward Thinking prompt.

Nearly two weeks ago, an article on Slate asked an interesting question: When terrible, abusive parents come crawling back, what do their grown children owe them? This got me thinking. Given that one of the ten commandments orders children to honor their parents, Christianity seems to emphasize filial duty. Leaving Christianity means I no longer believe I have a divinely-mandated obligation to my parents. Further, my parents caused me a great deal of pain when I first started stepping out on my own and forging my own life, and that can’t help but affect our relationship. But they’re still my parents. And so, without further ado, I give you this month’s Forward Thinking discussion question:

What do we owe our parents?

I want to invite readers to discuss this question in the comment section and to invite bloggers to respond on their own blogs. At the end of two weeks I will post a round-up of links and excerpts to both blog posts elsewhere and especially insightful comments here. Bloggers should email their links to lovejoyfeminism (at) gmail (dot) com with “Forward Thinking” in the subject line if they want to be included in the round-up.

Happy thinking and discussing!


Forward Thinking: A Values Development Project is an invitation to both readers and fellow bloggers to participate in forming positive values and grappling with thorny questions. Click here to read the project introduction.

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  • maryann26

    Children do not owe their parents anything. Parents made the decision to have children. Given what a terribly brutal world it is, I think it is immoral to have children. When the cards are put on the table, every parent has given their children a death a death sentence.

  • InsightfulTurtle

    “You do not owe your parents gratitude for “having kept you fed and clothed” and/or other physical care because that’s their damn JOB. ”

    This is one of the most common arguments parents put forward whenever their children want something or seem ungrateful and I agree completely with what you’ve just said. When you are under 18, you’re (usually) still in education and therefore CAN’T GET A FULL TIME JOB. This means that 99% of the time you can’t make enough money to keep yourself alive. So I find it extremely illogical when parents argue that you owe them because “they pay the bills” if you are UNABLE to actually make enough money for yourself. Like whether or not to give you food and clothes is some kind of choice they have and they are worthy of all your respect for having chosen to provide you with your human rights.