The Ethics of Parenting

Three incidents in the news caught the Barometer’s eye that involve “parenting,” and bad judgment.

1. The kiddos storming Senator Diane Feinstein’s office, demanding action on climate change. Most analyses of the video focused on Senator Feinstein’s alleged arrogance in responding to the lads and lassies. The Barometer watched the video and wondered in awe at what kind of parents allow their children to experience that level of fear. Visions of sugar plums do not dance in these kids’ heads — they have had apocalyptic tales tossed hither and yon so much that what they seem to know, with great conviction, is that death, destruction, and dogs and cats living together (to quote the Ghostbusters) are a mere 12 years away. The cherubs have turned out to be a litigious bunch, bringing suit to halt their nightmares, via judicially imposed green dreams, plans, or beheadings. One, brought by Our Children’s Trust, is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

As Paul Tice pointed out in the Wall Street Journal, the last time kids took the lead on moving social policy the kids got hurt. The crusades of children through Germany and France to liberate Jerusalem ended badly — many of the children died and many were sold into slavery.

How about a little parenting that allows children to spend their time amongst the flora and fauna that we do have or even experience the concrete of an urban skate park before we offer them up as plaintiffs and activists in Senate offices? How about if we parents provide them with a secure environment, a solid education, and the assurance that society has the both the capacity and [some] adults to address dangers.

2. The slapping your child in the face with cheese squares. You have no doubt seen the videos of the toddlers having a slice of cheese hurled at them. The poor tots are visibly stunned by what has hit them. Several of them cannot see and do not yet have the motor skills to reach up and remove the Velveeta or Kraft square from their noses and foreheads.

Parents today clearly have too much time to spare. How on earth did this activity start? Now there is not only the fear that polar bears will be roaming their Santa Clara neighborhoods foraging for small children because of melting ice but that somewhere out there is a cheese slice with their name on it (both thanks to their parents).

3. The college admissions cheating. Words have not yet been invented to describe the parents who did this “for their children.” With this parental activity, the three examples come together into one common theme. Children are not props, children are not our entertainment, and children are not trophies that we hold up to show the world what we have produced. However, in this case, photo alterations, cash, and grad students changing exam scores produced the results. Vanity, vanity, all is vanity. Ecclesiastes 1:2. At some point, these sad youth will awaken and realize that the accomplishments their parents had painted, plastered, and baling wired on to them did not give them the skills, knowledge, or fortitude they needed to survive in a rugged world. In the quest to give their children everything, these parents deprived their children of what they needed most — work, resiliency, and humility born of the blessing of failing once in awhile.

As in business, the quest to make the numbers at any cost and by any means, gets you the numbers, but it kills the company.

Climate change, American cheese, and cheating — all with the common thread of parents who forgot to nurture, support, and set an example.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
This entry was posted in News and Events. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.