When a solution is not found, is it always the parents who must bear the brunt of the sacrifice?

“There can be no guarantee that there exists a solution in a conflict in which neither party has to sacrifice and which both parties prefer to any other solution. In such a case, does the parent always have to bear the brunt of the sacrifice?”

If you think there is a brunt to be borne that is intolerable, what makes you think that it is OK to have a defenceless child bear the brunt of it?!

In good relationships, including parent-child ones, problems do get solved, because preferences are not immutable but change, for example through conversation, or just through one of the parties coming up with a brilliant idea that they know the other person will love and that they themselves love too, and either suggesting it or going ahead and doing it. Problems are soluble – and we can solve them!

The idea you seem to have in mind of this hard-done-by self-sacrificial parent miserably sacrificing for her child applies more in families in which the parents believe that problems are not soluble and that life is hard and that sacrifice is needed.

But in a family in which the parents are freedom-loving optimistic fallibilists who know that problems are soluble and are taking their children seriously, the grim picture you are painting simply doesn’t reflect the reality.

It reminds me a bit of how people who are against marriage tend to think of marriage – as a grim coercive institution in which wishes are being sacrificed. I used to think that myself, but I was mistaken. Happy marriage is incredible. It’s massively knowledge-creating and delightful for both parties, as I said in this podcast.

And just like in a happy marriage your spouse’s wishes are very important indeed to you, so, in a parent-child Taking Children Seriously relationship, your precious child’s wishes are very important to you. And the idea that you seem to be painting, of people feeling miserly and resentful and grimly trying to avoid hideous sacrifice or gritting their teeth and sacrificing out of a life-is-a-zero-sum-game sense of duty, is deeply unpleasant, and not at all how things are in families in which everyone is being taken seriously. My heart goes out to those who view life with their loved ones that way. They must be suffering terribly.

Talking about bearing the brunt of sacrifice is imagining that wishes are immutable and that knowledge doesn’t grow, and that there is often no solution. It is just not true!

See also:

Sarah Fitz-Claridge, Taking Children Seriously FAQ: ‘When a solution is not found, is it always the parents who must bear the brunt of the sacrifice?’, https://takingchildrenseriously.com/when-a-solution-is-not-found-is-it-always-the-parents-who-must-bear-the-brunt-of-the-sacrifice/

1 thought on “When a solution is not found, is it always the parents who must bear the brunt of the sacrifice?”

  1. Right. So much suffering is due to our imagining that there is a fixed pie. Yet because our knowledge can increase essentially infinitely, what we can have can increase essentially infinitely as well. Furthermore when we love each other, we love the smile on our child’s face! There is no sacrifice when you get to see your child smile.


Leave a comment