The Endless Umbilical Cord: Parental Obligation to Grown Children

Journal of Practical Ethics 6 (2):55-72 (2018)
Authors
Rivka Weinberg
Scripps College
Abstract
One might think that parental obligation to children ends with the end of childhood. I argue that if we consider why parents are obligated to their children, we will see that this view is false. Creating children exposes them to life’s risks. When we expose others to risks, we are often obligated to minimize damages and compensate for harms. Life’s risks last a lifetime, therefore parental obligation to one’s children does too. Grown children’s autonomy, and grown children’s independent responsibility for some of their own problems, can sometimes limit what parental responsibility demands of parents but it doesn’t do away with the responsibility. I argue that my conclusions are not as counterintuitive as they might initially seem. I also consider the implications that parental obligation to grown children might have on the oft assumed obligation that grown children have to care for their parents.
Keywords Parental Obligations  Practical Ethics
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