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Ethical Parenting: Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity

769051-Childprotection-1412039792-178-640x480“No social problem is as universal as the oppression of the child…No slave was ever so much the property of his master as the child is of his parent…Never were the rights of man ever so disregarded as in the case of the child.” ~ Maria Montessori.

Principle E asks psychologists to honor the dignity and worth of all people including each person’s right to privacy, confidentiality, and self-determination. This is why we have informed consent. Informed consent means that a client was informed regarding services, risks, benefits, costs, limits of confidentiality, and so forth before they agree to become clients or participants in research.

The ethical parent understands respect, rights, dignity, and self-determination. Let’s take a look at how this applies to parenting.

Every child is really at their parent’s mercy. Sad, but true. Parents can make all manner of decisions in an attempt to produce a certain outcome for their child or a certain kind of child. Ethical parents acknowledge the tremendous responsibility contained within the role of being a parent.

Children are ours to nurture, support, and caretake. They do not belong to us and we do not determine their path in life. At best we are guides with big open arms catching the child on either side in the event of struggles or set backs.

Principle E as applied to parenting asks parents to respect self-determination. Principle E asks parents to honor a child’s autonomy within the family structure, boundaries, and beliefs. This principle also asks that we maintain awareness regarding individual differences in children, and role differences with regard to age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, and culture. We also maintain awareness around topics that pertain to religion, sexual orientation, disabilities, language, and socioeconomic status.

Imagine that you adopted a child who is of Korean ancestry. You adopted your daughter at one month of age. Your ethnicity is American and your religion beliefs center around Judaism. Principle E asks that you use sensitivity with your child around her origin. She may want to learn about her culture of origin. She also may prefer not to. Principle E asks us to consider things.

Imagine you have a twelve-year-old girl who is saying she is attracted to girls and not boys. We want to remain open to her gender identity exploration and neither push toward or away. She has her own journey and parents who are parenting with ethics in mind give her space to explore.

Let’s say that you have gone through a divorce and have two boys, ages ten and five. Your former partner decides to re-marry someone from a different race. You may have feelings about your partner, about the divorce, and about the re-marriage. You may also have feelings about your partner marrying someone from a different race. What is the ethical thing to do where the children are concerned? We give children their space to determine what they feel. We don’t contribute to racism or the putting down of any other people. If we judge others children also have a tendency to believe you are also judging them. Ethical parenting asks parents to consider what they say and do and the consequences for others.

In the next blog we will look at how to solve ethical dilemmas involving children and parents by using an eight-step-model of decision-making.

Thank you and Be Well!

Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo, PhD

Photo Credit: Photo was Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2014.

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Ethical Parenting: Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity

Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo, Ph.D.

Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo, Ph.D. works in private practice as a psychotherapist. Nanette works with children, adults, adolescents, couples, and families. She also works as a consultant with public and private schools on issues ranging from suicide and violence prevention to topics on mental health issues affecting youth. She is the author of Entering Adulthood: Understanding Depression and Suicide, 1990,The Everything Self-Esteem Book with CD, 2011, and A Comparative Case Study of the Elderly Women Beggars of Central Mexico, 2006. She frequently appears on radio and television covering community mental health topics such as the Arizona wild fires in the summer of 2011 and the Gabrielle Gifford shooting in Tucson, Arizona.

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APA Reference
Burton Mongelluzzo, N. (2014). Ethical Parenting: Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Nov 2014
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