Family

I’d really hoped that this was satire. That, perhaps, what is celebrated as April Fool’s Day in the US is early May in Australia. But no, the commenters (most of whom were similarly puzzled and astounded) were also commenting about the “April Fool’s Day” aspect of the piece.

Here it is. The upshot: Good family care gives children an advantage. This is unfair, and thus families should be eliminated. But that isn’t likely to work in practice (people like old traditions too much), so let’s figure out why families are good for children, and focus on eliminating those aspects.

Two aspects they focus on are private schools and reading bedtime stories to children, the latter getting considerable attention. They propose prohibiting reading such stories, which they portray as producing a very unfair advantage, but realize that even this is not likely to fly:

Swift makes it clear that although both elite schooling and bedtime stories might both skew the family game, restricting the former would not interfere with the creation of the special loving bond that families give rise to. Taking the books away is another story.

‘We could prevent elite private schooling without any real hit to healthy family relationships, whereas if we say that you can’t read bedtime stories to your kids because it’s not fair that some kids get them and others don’t, then that would be too big a hit at the core of family life.’

So should parents snuggling up for one last story before lights out be even a little concerned about the advantage they might be conferring?

‘I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally,’ quips Swift.

And the entire idea that children are reared by their biological parents, instead of by the State, is also outmoded:

‘We think that although in practice it makes sense to parent your biological offspring, that is not the same as saying that in virtue of having produced the child the biological parent has the right to parent.’

Then, does the child have a right to be parented by her biological parents? Swift has a ready answer.

‘It’s true that in the societies in which we live, biological origins do tend to form an important part of people’s identities, but that is largely a social and cultural construction. So you could imagine societies in which the parent-child relationship could go really well even without there being this biological link.’

I still hold on to some hope that this entire piece is a setup, a joke, with an Australian sense of humor as opposed to the US leftist sense of fairness.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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