The worst sort of parents…

Excluding monsters, the worst sort of parents are those who do not raise their children to be capable of being parents themselves. For Kant, the enlightened person is one who is no longer under the thumb of a ‘guardian’–in this case, a parent upon whom he is dependent–but has learned to think for himself and to rely upon his own considered judgment. The best sort of parents perform something of a ‘miracle,’ symbolically ‘killing themselves off’ so that their children have the chance of becoming enlightened adults themselves. In fact, there are three miracles: that of parents doing away with themselves as parents; that of parents not extorting from their children some kind of bad, infinite debt; and that of parents ensuring, somehow or other, that their children do not think to put other guardians in their place. Were all three miracles to be performed, then children maturing into enlightenment would seek to make themselves worthy of adulthood and parents would, though ‘dead’ or rather because ‘dead,’ be worthy of their children’s considered esteem and reverent memory.

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