This is the third blog on an Ethical Code of Conduct for Parents in a series on Ethical Parenting. In this blog we will look at Principle C: Integrity. When we look at integrity in the practice of psychology we are talking about honesty, keeping promises, and adhering to accuracy in our practice with clients of any kind. We work with clinical clients, research participants, and those with whom we offer our skills of consultation or academic guidance.
Parents need to operate with integrity as well.Integrity in parenting orients around honesty, promise-keeping, and being accurate about what we say. We want to avoid using the role and authority as a parent figure as our rationale for choices or positions. Instead, it is best to operate with integrity. Integrity asks that we think about our own bias, judgments, and prejudice. Integrity asks that we fact check our data before telling children about others or about our world. There is nothing wrong with telling a child you don’t know or telling your child there are many views and perspectives on the answer they seek.
Children tend to hold parents high on a pedestal like a king and queen of their world. This is fine and it actually brings a sense of trust and safety to the child. During the life-span of a child we want to descend from the throne, in the presence of our children, and show our humanity. We want to show integrity. This means we don’t have the answer to everything. It means we likely have the answer to very little. Our job is to teach children to be critical-thinkers. Our job is to teach children how to arrive at answers by way of thinking imbued with integrity.
Integrity in parenting also involves avoiding deception. There are times when deception may be warranted. Integrity asks that we weigh the consequences of engaging in deception. If we do engage in deception we have a responsibility to attempt to correct any harm that resulted from that deception.
Imagine a child who is acting out being told by a parent that they are going to be given away to an orphanage if they don’t start behaving. This is a rather dated variety of a threat, but one that is still used by overwhelmed parents as a form of deception and threat. If we follow the ethical principles of parenting we need to remember Principle A asks that we do no harm, Principle B asks that we remain faithful and keep our promises, and Principle C asks that we continue to be honest and accurate with our children. Any threats are in direct opposition to an ethical model of parenting.
It is fine to teach children about your beliefs as parents. This is the beginning basis to any moral code. However, there are many beliefs in the world and children will become better critical thinkers when they are encouraged to think.
We will be looking at Principle D in the next blog. Principle D is concerned with Justice.
Thank you and be well.
Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo, PhD