This is the second post in a series on parenting and an ethical code for parents and children. In the November 10th post we discussed parenting stress and angst. I introduced a code of ethics for parents and Principle A: Beneficence and Nonmaleficence. Principle A is about doing no harm and choosing to find and do the right thing.
Principle B in the ethical code of conduct is called Fidelity and Responsibility. For parents this too is an important principle. It refers to things such as keeping promises, being trustworthy, following through, and learning as much as you can about your job as a parent. It means you take your parenting profession seriously. As a parent you strive to operate at a high standard. You don’t cheat, lie, blame others for your shortcomings, and you model moral and ethical behavior all the time.
This sounds like a hard order to fill doesn’t it? It is. Parenting is the hardest job you will ever choose.
Principle B asks parents to not do harm to other parents in terms of exploiting, lying, cheating, blaming, or other behaviors that would interfere with trust between parents. You might be wondering why there needs to be a bond of trust between and among parents. Think about it. We do not live, parent, thrive, or prosper alone. We need others. We need others who are in the same profession to be mindful. Parents all share the same profession and each parent has ethical responsibilities with their children, but also in relation to other parents. Remember, our children also learn by watching what we do in relation to others.
Principle B goes so far as to suggest that we take care with our morality as well. We don’t engage in conflict with others or multiple role relationships. What this means is that we avoid things like sleeping with your son’s teacher or undermining another parent in any way. These are challenges, but they speak to ethics, doing the right thing, and avoiding harm.
We can’t speak out of both sides of our mouths and say that others are morally bankrupt. We need to strive to keep our own side of the fence clean, tidy, and also accessible.
In this second principle we are asked to be mindful, honest, honorable, trustworthy, fair-minded, and aware of the ways we can harm others. We are asked to choose to do the right thing and to show our children the right thing by what we choose.
Imagine the confusion in a child when you tell them to be honest and not to cheat or lie and then you do their homework for them. You just lied and cheated. Imagine your child comes home after being hit by a classmate and you speak badly about the child’s parents. You just engaged in doing harm by undermining another parent. I know parents do this all the time. It is time to consider the consequences of these small actions. Small actions often lead to very large consequences.
More on the principles in the parenting code of ethics in the next blog.
Thank you and be well.
Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo, PhD