Surely it is natural for parents to control their children?

“Surely it is natural for parents to control their children?”

People often suggest that parents controlling their children is manifestly right, universal, and natural.

As John Stuart Mill asked in his 1869 argument against the subjection of women, “was there ever was there ever any domination which did not appear natural to those who possessed it? […] Did not the slave-owners of the Southern United States maintain […] that the black race is by nature incapable of freedom, and marked out for slavery? […] So true is it that unnatural generally means only uncustomary, and that everything which is usual appears natural.”

Because the paternalistic subjection of children is universal, any departure from that approach may well feel unnatural. But the feeling that ‘how it’s always been’ is right and natural does not mean it is. Many barbaric, highly immoral things felt ‘natural’ and right for centuries before progress was made, as John Stuart Mill pointed out.

And many natural things are bad, like death and disease.

See also:

Sarah Fitz-Claridge, Taking Children Seriously FAQ: ‘Surely it is natural for parents to control their children?’,

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