The terror of explicitness: philosophical remarks on the idea of a parenting contract

Ethics and Education 2 (2):95-107 (2007)
The new idea of a 'parenting contract', explicitly taking as its point of reference the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, is meant primarily to protect children's rights, and specifically the right to a proper upbringing. The nature of the parent-child relationship is thus drawn into the discourse of rights and duties. Although there is much to be said for parents explicitly attending to their children's upbringing, something of the uniqueness of the parent-child relationship seems to be occluded by the language of rights and duties as that relationship becomes narrowed down to the confines of a contractual agreement. What comes to be foregrounded in the parent-child relationship is a defence of the various parties'—the parents' and the child's—interests. By drawing on the work of Annette Baier, we argue that this has considerable consequences in terms of trust and distrust, and parental engagement. It is questioned whether the concept of the parenting contract brings about the positive climate of engagement which it is meant to promote
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