Doing the best for one's child: satisficing versus optimizing parentalism

Theor Med Bioeth. 2012 Jun;33(3):199-205. doi: 10.1007/s11017-012-9222-4.


The maxim "parents should do what is in the best interests of their child" seems like an unassailable truth, and yet, as I argue here, there are serious problems with it when it is taken seriously. One problem concerns the sort of demands such a principle places on parents; the other concerns its larger social implications when conceived as part of a national policy for the rearing of children. The theory of parenting that creates these problems I call "optimizing parentalism." To avoid them, I define and defend a new and more morally appealing theory, "satisficing parentalism."

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Rearing*
  • Child Welfare
  • Ethical Analysis
  • Ethical Theory*
  • Family*
  • Humans
  • Moral Obligations*
  • Parenting*
  • Parents* / psychology
  • United States