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Why do you love family members?

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These are some issues I've been struggling with:

-- Why do parents love their own child, automatically and unconditionally? Should they?

-- What does it mean to be a father, mother, brother, sister? What are these roles and why do you play them out?

-- Imagine if you had no familial connections to your mother, father, brother or sister. Imagine you met these people as strangers. If you consider them as indivduals would you choose to love them? Why or why not?

-- What does the "blood connection" between family members mean to you? Do you feel a connection to relatives just because you're related?

-- If you found out today that you were adopted would you want to seek out your birth parents if you knew where to find them?

-- What do you think of finding immortality through your children?

Take some time and think about these questions. I'd like to have a thoughtful discussion, so please, no flip answers or one sentence responses. I'd appreciate any insight you might have.

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These are some issues I've been struggling with:

-- Why do parents love their own child, automatically and unconditionally? Should they?

-- What does it mean to be a father, mother, brother, sister? What are these roles and why do you play them out?

-- Imagine if you had no familial connections to your mother, father, brother or sister. Imagine you met these people as strangers. If you consider them as indivduals would you choose to love them? Why or why not?

-- What does the "blood connection" between family members mean to you? Do you feel a connection to relatives just because you're related?

-- If you found out today that you were adopted would you want to seek out your birth parents if you knew where to find them?

-- What do you think of finding immortality through your children?

Take some time and think about these questions. I'd like to have a thoughtful discussion, so please, no flip answers or one sentence responses. I'd appreciate any insight you might have.

--It's evolutionarily advantagous to have the parental/child bond.

--Those terms are used to describe famial relationships. They don't mean much past that.

--I actually do not love most of my family as they are more like strangers. I feel no unconditional love for someone because we share similiar genetic material.

--see above

--They would be strangers, and I'd have no reason to seek them out.

--Children carry on a name only. You can't live forever through your children. They just carry on a name and a memory.

I hope you don't consider any of these answers to be rude or flip. This topic has been discussed A LOT with rl friends, family members, and a therapist so the answers are fresh in my mind.

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I hope you don't consider any of these answers to be rude or flip. This topic has been discussed A LOT with rl friends, family members, and a therapist so the answers are fresh in my mind.

Thanks for posting, but this is exactly the type of response I don't want.

These aren't easy topics and require more than one sentence per question. If you'd like to give a more in depth response I'd be happy to discuss it.

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You don't haven an obligation to love or even respect your family, if your family has wronged you in someway. However, there are obligations on the parents to provide for their child until they can do so themselves, and it is the moral obligation of a child to obey his parents while they live in their household. There are obvious exceptions to children obeying their parents, though. Just because you live somewhere does not mean you have to, lets say, worship whatever god they believe in.

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You don't haven an obligation to love or even respect your family, if your family has wronged you in someway. However, there are obligations on the parents to provide for their child until they can do so themselves, and it is the moral obligation of a child to obey his parents while they live in their household. There are obvious exceptions to children obeying their parents, though. Just because you live somewhere does not mean you have to, lets say, worship whatever god they believe in.

That has nothing to do with what I asked.

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--It's evolutionarily advantagous to have the parental/child bond. Babies are born pretty much helpless. Without loving parents, babies would not survive. Most mamals share this trait of strong parent/child attachment. Other animals, sharks for example, do not have this trait as their offspring are already developed an capable of self defense.

--Those terms are used to describe famial relationships. As for the roles, parents are providers of protection and nurture. Brother and sister roles are just famial terms, I don't think they really serve a function.

--This and your blood relation question could be combined. Blood relation simply means you share similar genes. That in itself is not enough to establish a loving realtionship. I actually do not love most of my family as they are more like strangers. I feel no unconditional love for someone because we share similiar genetic material.

--They would be strangers, and I'd have no reason to seek them out.

--Children carry on a name only. You can't live forever through your children. They just carry on a name and a memory.

Hope this helps.

Edited by AndrewRyan
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Why do parents love their own child, automatically and unconditionally? Should they?

They don't and no. The first no is a fact of reality, the second no is because love should not be automatic or unconditional.

What does it mean to be a father, mother, brother, sister? What are these roles and why do you play them out?

"... there are obligations on the parents to provide for their child until they can do so themselves, and it is the moral obligation of a child to obey his parents while they live in their household." (The Egoist, above)

I fully subscribe to his answer. Beyond it, every person defines the relationships which suit them, I doubt there is a general aswer. Personally, I am close to my parents and sisters because I love them. I don't have children.

Imagine if you had no familial connections to your mother, father, brother or sister. Imagine you met these people as strangers. If you consider them as indivduals would you choose to love them? Why or why not?

I can't answer that. No one can, in my opinion.

What does the "blood connection" between family members mean to you? Do you feel a connection to relatives just because you're related?

Nothing and no.

If you found out today that you were adopted would you want to seek out your birth parents if you knew where to find them?

No, because the "blood connection" you asked about above means nothing.

What do you think of finding immortality through your children?

It is nonsense. I don't think about it beyond that, and I don't think any thoughts dedicated to the issue have any connection to reality.

Take some time and think about these questions. I'd like to have a thoughtful discussion, so please, no flip answers or one sentence responses. I'd appreciate any insight you might have.

I did take time to think about my answers, they are thoughtful, they aren't flip answers and they contain all the insight I have on the subjects you raised. In fact I'm pretty confident they contain all the insight there is on the subjects you raised.

As for the "No one sentence" requirement, that's an unreasonable request. Unless you own this website, I'm just going to ignore it, and any other requests like it. When you contradict any one of my one sentence answers, and argument your position, I will probably have more to say (about your arguments).

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-- Why do parents love their own child, automatically and unconditionally? Should they?

They do? Since when?

-- What does it mean to be a father, mother, brother, sister? What are these roles and why do you play them out?

Well, father/mother are completely different from the brother/sister relationship. In most of the families I've seen, brothers and sisters don't have a loving relationship as they get older unless they have a lot in common. I remember both of my brothers as small babies so I like to see them out in the world doing cool adult stuff, but we don't have much to do with each other.

-- Imagine if you had no familial connections to your mother, father, brother or sister. Imagine you met these people as strangers. If you consider them as indivduals would you choose to love them? Why or why not?

Probably not, but what difference does it make?

-- What does the "blood connection" between family members mean to you? Do you feel a connection to relatives just because you're related?

Not in the least. I feel a connection with my immediate family (my mom, dad, and both brothers) because we've traveled all over the world together and shared lots of interesting things. But I have a hard time putting up with my other relatives.

-- If you found out today that you were adopted would you want to seek out your birth parents if you knew where to find them?

I am adopted, by my father, and I have absolutely zero interest in seeking out my biological father. Well, no, not quite zero, it'd be nice to know more details about family medical history. Other than that, who cares?

-- What do you think of finding immortality through your children?

Pft. I don't want kids, and I think any desire to achieve "immortality" is silly.

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Love stems from a recognition of your own values in another human.

Children are not born with values but have to acquire them, which they normally do from their parents.

Therefore there is a strong tendency of parents and their children and thus siblings as well to share most of their values.

That's why it seems like "automatical" and "unconditional" love. But as has been pointed out, it's not.

I no longer share the values of my mother. Therefore I no longer have any contact with her. I don't normally think of her. Thus in this case the role of "mother" or "son" no longer mean anything at all. But I still do have contact with my father. In this case his being the father means that he is older and has already acquired more values and more understanding than I have. Thus it has something of a teacher/pupil relationship. I receive from him values that will further my life.

My mother basically is a stranger to me now. If I would meet her, I do not know whether I would even recognize her. So no love there.

I also have a brother who doesn't share my values. There is some kind of a connection because I still know him somewhat, but that connection is getting weaker just as it did with my mother. So 'blood connection' is just another word for knowing someone very well. It is neither automatic nor genetically mandated or some such thing. It can weaken just as anything else can.

I would not seek out my birth parents. They would have abandoned me and I would not have anything in common with them only by pure chance.

You cannot find immortality in your children. However if you have raised your children well and they accept your values you can pass on your purpose to them. And your purpose would be pursued for at least one more generation. I think that is what people think of when they seek "immortality through their children".

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Why do parents love their own child, automatically and unconditionally? Should they?

Yes. Love is an emotion, though, so one has to ask what should be the right ideas behind it.

Parents chose to be responsible for their children's existence, welfare and education. This makes the nature of the relationship unique. Then there's the matter that children are their parents' equals. They can be dependent and have less life experience and knowledge (including meta knowledge on how best to learn, think and solve problems) but they are rational human beings just as adults; each of them is an individual human being who thinks and learns through the individual judgement of one's own mind.

Unconditional love means parents should not require children to think and act a certain way to love them. Their proper role as parents is to help the children have the lives the children want, not just in the distant future of adulhood, but while they live as children as well. Education should be facilitated through reasoning (actual reasoning, not a semblance of it where the parent attempts to persuade and then has the last say) instead of force.

Ayn Rand had good criticisms of parenting and education. "Art in Education" is a great lecture on the subject.) But the forgotten William Godwin went further than her (a few centuries early on) and offered advice on how parents and educators should relate to children. So I refer you to his excelent essay "Of Reasoning and Contention" that you can find in the first part of his book "The Enquirer."

Do you feel a connection to relatives just because you're related?

I feel a connection with my parents, grandparents and other relatives I grew up with or I have spent a significant time of my life with and with whom significant memories are shared. I love my immediate family because I wouldn't have survived through childhood without them. In spite of all their mistakes.

What do you think of finding immortality through your children?

Well, no actual immortality is found.

What is usually mean by immortality is that ideas one values and identifies with are likely to survive the person through the person's children. I don't think that's the best way to leave a legacy, if you care for that. You should not use children as your personal meme spreading machines. Write good books instead, like Ayn Rand. Or build skycrapers.

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Why do parents love their own child, automatically and unconditionally? Should they?

They can't. Love is the emotional response to your values, and is thus by its very nature conditional on your values being present in the person you love. Even Immanuel Kant recognized that "love cannot be commanded."

Parents who think they have some kind of duty to love their children will close their eyes to the actual nature of the children, and thus render themselves incapable of experiencing love for them. They will just pretend to love them, not because they are worthy of being loved, but because "you're supposed to love them." The children will sense this, and return the phony love in kind: they will pretend to love their parents--right until they are out of college. I know this from my experience with my own parents.

What do you think of finding immortality through your children?

I think the person most successful at this was Aristotle, through his children named "Physics," "Metaphysics," "On the Soul," "Nicomachean Ethics," and others!

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Yes. Love is an emotion, though, so one has to ask what should be the right ideas behind it.

Parents chose to be responsible for their children's existence, welfare and education. This makes the nature of the relationship unique. Then there's the matter that children are their parents' equals. They can be dependent and have less life experience and knowledge (including meta knowledge on how best to learn, think and solve problems) but they are rational human beings just as adults; each of them is an individual human being who thinks and learns through the individual judgement of one's own mind.

Unconditional love means parents should not require children to think and act a certain way to love them. Their proper role as parents is to help the children have the lives the children want, not just in the distant future of adulhood, but while they live as children as well. Education should be facilitated through reasoning (actual reasoning, not a semblance of it where the parent attempts to persuade and then has the last say) instead of force.

I think what you're trying to say here is that parents should recognize and respect the free will of their children. That's not the same thing as loving them unconditionally, though. "Unconditional love" is a contradiction in terms.

What is usually mean by immortality is that ideas one values and identifies with are likely to survive the person through the person's children. I don't think that's the best way to leave a legacy, if you care for that. You should not use children as your personal meme spreading machines. Write good books instead, like Ayn Rand. Or build skycrapers.

Ha, great minds think alike! :thumbsup:

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Unconditional love means parents should not require children to think and act a certain way to love them. Their proper role as parents is to help the children have the lives the children want, not just in the distant future of adulhood, but while they live as children as well. Education should be facilitated through reasoning (actual reasoning, not a semblance of it where the parent attempts to persuade and then has the last say) instead of force.

You said that before, in this thread. And then, everyone answered you with a million arguments as to why that's wrong, and you simply ignored them.

The criticisms of your idea that children are capable of making all decisions for themselves (except of course whatever decisions they would need to make to actually survive by themselves for some reason), are the same. I'll just quote the last posts, by RationalBiker:

And if the child insists on an exclusive candy diet anyway?

How about rat poison? Should the parent allow their 2 year old to eat rat poison if it wants?

I would really like for Jill to answer my questions. I don't think she has seriously though through the ramifications of dealing with a child who will not always respond to rational instruction, something inherent in pretty much all children due to their as yet underdeveloped rational capacity.
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  • 2 weeks later...
You said that before, in this thread. And then, everyone answered you with a million arguments as to why that's wrong, and you simply ignored them.

Children are people. What argument can possibly justify prejudice against them?

And if the child insists on an exclusive candy diet anyway?

It's likely children will want to eat a lot of candy, but exclusively? That's an exageration.

Here's something to consider:

If a child disagrees with you, you failed to persuade the child. Maybe because your idea is wrong (you are fallible), maybe you are not communicating the idea well, in a way the child can understand or that appeals to the child (no long speeches), maybe you are disregarding that the child will change his mind if you persuade the child to want something better. Parents can learn to cook healthy and tasty treats, for instance.

What do we do when we can't persuade adults of doing things we consider bad for them? We don't use our authority and force them to eat healthy, no matter how irrational they seem to us.

How about rat poison? Should the parent allow their 2 year old to eat rat poison if it wants?

Maybe stop putting the rat poison next to the breakfast cereal?

When an emergency happens remove the toddler from danger to save his life. Comfort him if he cries, because it's not his fault if he didn't know better. It might be your fault though (you forgot to babyproof or were distracted.) Toddlers don't want to die. They don't want to eat rat poison. They are just learning and exploring and tasting things is part of it. With older children you can talk about why poison is bad, etc.

something inherent in pretty much all children due to their as yet underdeveloped rational capacity

The ability to use rationality develops, because it's knowledge that can be learned, but rationality itself doesn't develop. It's what defines a human being. You can't say "that person did something iirational, therefore it's not a person."

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Here is a scenario practically every person who is a parent or who has dealt with a small child will recognize and it absolutely destroys your rational child and the "failure" of a parent.

We'll look at two scenarios. The forceful parent and the explanatory parent.

Forceful parent...

Mother and child are walking down the road. The child's attention is caught by a puppy on the other side of the busy street and it moves to cross the street to see the puppy.

The parent grabs the child and stops it admonishing it saying things like you have to look both ways... look at how fast the cars are traveling, they wouldn't be able to stop in time if you ran out into the road. you would probably be killed. The parent probably goes into this spiel at length.

100m down the road the child sees a clown handing out balloons and it goes to cross the road again. The parent grabs the child's hand, admonishes him/her again and gives the child a reinforcing swat on the rear end.

Explanatory parent...

Mother and child are walking down the road. The child's attention is caught by a puppy on the other side of the busy street and it moves to cross the street to see the puppy.

The parent stops the child, gently admonishing it saying things like you have to look both ways... look at how fast the cars are traveling, they wouldn't be able to stop in time if you ran out into the road. you would probably be killed. The parent probably goes into this spiel at length.

100m down the road the child sees a clown handing out balloons and it goes to cross the road again. The parent having explained the situation and having done everything right doesn't move to stop the child, after all it's wrong to initiate force against the child by doing something as wrong as grabbing it.

"Mother watches as toddler walks into traffic, Film at 11..."

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Here is a scenario practically every person who is a parent or who has dealt with a small child will recognize and it absolutely destroys your rational child and the "failure" of a parent.

We'll look at two scenarios. The forceful parent and the explanatory parent.

The appropriate solution incorporates some of both methods.

Overwhelming forceful edicts create a fearful rebellious child who will grow up to do far worse than play in traffic to assert their independence.

Pedantic lectures without acknowledgement of the child's innocent excitement and legitimate distraction will go unheard, and more important messages will be ignored as well.

The "child" is excited for good reason. The way to connect with the child, is to prevent them from running into the street, AND, joining in their excitement. Then, when safe, by showing instead of telling, guide the child to the other side of the street, and let them pet the puppy.

That is how you show respect for the child's mind and your legitimate concern for their safety, and that is also how you earn their trust and get them to want to listen when there is no time for explanations. A rule of thumb to tell a child from and adult is whether they have learned how to postpone gratification until appropriate. If gratification is completely outlawed, then they don't ever learn how to self-control these legitimate urges.

I know there are few examples of this more appropriate solution, as the majority of us have been raised by the first two examples of parent, but I saw a mother do this on a bus one day with her little boy (different circumstances, but equivalent mutual respect), and I almost cried in public.

Stay focused,

<Φ>aj

Now if adult-children want to play in traffic, who am I to prevent Darwin his due?

Edited by aristotlejones
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The "child" is excited for good reason. The way to connect with the child, is to prevent them from running into the street, AND, joining in their excitement. Then, when safe, by showing instead of telling, guide the child to the other side of the street, and let them pet the puppy.

That's it. ;)

I also want to say that a child is not likely to understand concepts like the speed of cars and the harm of impact on human bodies without some way of showing the evidence. Back at home, after petting the puppy and getting the ballons from the clown, watch crash test videos on Youtube and take a look at anatomy to explain how fragile the human body is and how dangerous roads can be. Another opportunity to safely learn about impact is bumper cars (dodge'ems) on fairs.

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  • 1 month later...

No, not all parents love their newborns. Unfortunately, there are plenty of stories in the news about children (of all ages, including newborns) being abused and killed by one or both of their parents.

EDIT: Whoops! Busy at work and misread the last question.

I think many, but not all, parents love their newborns because having a child is a value to them. They planned the pregnancy, took the necessary steps to have a healthy baby, etc, but automatically loving a newborn is something different. You can't just love something because it was born. And as I stated above, I think there are many situations where one parent or both feels very little towards a newborn.

Edited by K-Mac
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To your OP Myself:

-- There is no proof that they do.

-- This varies based on the unique relationship (or lack thereof) between the two people in question. My father is emotionally detached, but extremely rational. My mother puts her emotions and those of the people she cares about before all other criteria, barring only logic and reality. Thus the things I have learned from them are vastly different from each other. Meanwhile, my brother tried to kill me more than once before I was ever a teen. These experiences have helped shape whom I am, and for that I give them all thanks. (Even my brother, for I learned quite a lot about taking pain, not trusting people easily, and many skills from what he did, and what I was forced to do to survive in my own house.) That said, While my love for my Mother comes from the fact that I know that she has always tried to care for me as best as she could, I know that she does not truly understand me. My father understands a lot better, but has trouble showing his love. And my brother is little more than a stranger to me nowadays.

-- I find value in most people, even if it is only to see what is the current political beliefs espoused by the masses at the moment. Most likely I'd find value in them for the same things I do now, but as they would likely feel less of a desire to help me, I would most likely not go out of my way for them as much as I do now.

-- Yes and No. I understand problems of biology better, as we share common health problems and similar growth and aging patterns that give me better insight to several little things they are likely to be feeling, but none of that is strictly "blood". Anyone with those situations or with a loved one with them I could most likely relate to a bit more than others.

-- No.

-- Nonsensical.

To the rational child discussion:

The formation of formal thinking is really the time that a child becomes able to conceptualize rationally. Before that, the brain is simply not fully developed, and the child is generally unable to separate the views that they hold from how the world in fact functions. Therefore you should treat a child in much the same way as you would treat the mentally handicapped. That is, do the best you can to use a rational argument, but be prepared to have them ignore it, and be ready to act to protect them if rational discourse fails due to the inability they have.

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