Family Obligations

Family Obligations

Kesha Palmer, Health and Relationship Editor

When people decide to become parents they decide to take on a giant endless responsibility and what we owe in return for that is discussed frequently in the world. Including the world of philosophy and was even discussed in a Crash For many families parents think that once the children are grown they have incurred a debt and must pay it; however many philosophers like Jane English argue otherwise. Should parents have an automatic given from their children simply because? 


No two families are the same and every relationship a person makes in their lifetime is unique in different ways. Each relationship plays an important role and the relationship to which a parent provides plays a defining moment in a child’s upbringing. Hank Green talks in his crash course and categorizes the different types of views of family obligations. The unconditional view is that simply by being your parent they are entitled to specific things from you. These things can include your hospice, financial stability, or even just your presence. This view can be twisted and used to guilt trip or manipulate. By holding the sacrifices one made to become your parent, raising you, or having to be financially responsible for you. The effects of this could lead to low self esteem and trouble expressing emotions. The conditional view is that you owe your parents what they gave you. To reap what you sow in other words. Finally the last viewpoint Hank talks about is the friendship view and that is that you don’t actually owe your parents anything. This view is to provide a loving and caring relationship because they simply want to. The founder of the friendship theory was actually Aristotle and he believed in a type of genuine friendship that does not dissolve or fizzle out. Many people started to take this view and interpret it into their ways of  parenting. Jane English adds to this theory that taking on the responsibilities of becoming a parent is a choice that the child has no part of because technically no one asked to be born. Put differently, we don’t owe our parents anything and that parenting is actions fueled by love voluntarily. 


There is no one right way to parenting however that is not saying every way of parenting is right. The relationship with your parents is one the most sensitive and vulnerable relationship you will experience in your life. It’s common to hear that our parents don’t live forever and we should cherish them, however no one lives forever. The relationships between parents, friends, and significant others all have value that should be cherished as well. As previously stated life is short and for most we have to worry about the debt in which we incur from the government rather than from each other. In the Crash course Hank talks about getting certified to become a parent. That one should go through a series of tests to prove how capable one can be and if you don’t pass you can always reapply. While it’s an interesting theory for preventative measures it is a violation of rights and adoptive parents already go through this process. No matter how you decide to view the relationship with your parents, know that it is justified for your own personal reasons. 


For some the subject of family can be a sensitive subject and if you or someone you know needs help escaping an abusive or toxic situation I’ve listed hotlines and resources. You can also talk to a teacher, friends, or anyone you trust. 

Domestic abuse hotline

 Call 1.800.799.SAFE (7233)

Don’t feel comfortable talking. You can text HOME to the crisis text line at 741741 to talk to a crisis counselor. 

You can also use Safe Ut, an Utah crisis helpline,  to talk to a counselor or submit a tip to your school and there is also an app version. 


Other sources


Family obligation theories


The friendship theory