According to a professor at the University of Warwick in England, parents who read to their kids should be thinking about how they’re “unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children” by doing so.
In an interview with ABC Radio last week, philosopher and professor Adam Swift said that since “bedtime stories activities . . . do indeed foster and produce . . . [desired] familial relationship goods,” he wouldn’t want to ban them, but that parents who “engage in bedtime-stories activities” should definitely at least feel kinda bad about it sometimes:
“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,” he said.
But Swift also added that some other things parents do to give their kids the best education possible — like sending them to “an elite private school” — “cannot be justified” in this way.
“Private schooling cannot be justified by appeal to these familial relationship goods,” he said.”It’s just not the case that in order for a family to realize these intimate, loving, authoritative, affectionate, love-based relationships you need to be able to send your child to an elite private school,” he continued, adding that “we could prevent elite private schooling without any real hit to elite family relationships.”
At one point, Swift even flirted with the idea of “simply abolishing the family” as a way of “solving the social justice problem” because “there would be a more level playing field” if we did, but ultimately concluded that “it is in the child’s interest to be parented” and that “parenting a child makes for what we call a distinctive and special contribution to the flourishing and well-being of adults.”
In general, I tend to believe that focusing on improving things for the less fortunate is a better way to advance our society than purposely making things worse for those who have more, but what do I know? After all, it’s not like I’m a philosopher or anything.