June 13, 2024

Is It Right to Have Students Raise Funds for a Team They Hope to Be On?

In his response, the Ethicist noted: “I’m sure there are plenty of people who don’t much enjoy spending time with children. But you may be an outlier. When you say that you never want children near you, you’re describing something that sounds more like a phobia than a preference. And I don’t see how your nephew is going to benefit from hanging out with someone who regards him with all the lovingkindness an arachnophobe has for a spider. … But fond family feelings are hard to fake. Your nephew may well be better off with an absentee aunt than an aloof one. … What your sibling wants is what it’s normal for parents to want of those they love — that they should get to know their children. It may be painful for your sibling to discover that you genuinely don’t see the point of spending time with this child. If your sibling does want help with child rearing, she could reasonably feel that you’d let her down, and your relationship could be damaged. Still, if you’re not cut out for sharing space with the kid, let alone helping care for him, you should be frank about it. A relationship forged only out of duty would be a joyless thing. One day your nephew will be an adult, and he might even turn out to be someone you would like to know. But by then, of course, he would have the option of choosing not to spend time with you.” (Reread the full question and answer here.)

I am also a person who never had kids and does not enjoy their company. I agree with the Ethicist’s response. What is most important is that the letter writer communicates her feelings to her relatives as clearly and tactfully as she can. April

I think the letter writer needs to talk to her sibling about the sibling’s expectations for this aunt-nephew relationship. I also think the letter writer could shift her thinking. Children are part of our society just like the rest of us. For instance, would the same line of thinking be acceptable or ethical if she was talking about a family member who was elderly or disabled? I would urge the letter writer to think about her own childhood to help put herself in her nephew’s shoes. We all remember people from our own childhoods that we were hurt or loved by. How would she like to be remembered by her adult nephew? Marta

The problem with the Ethicist’s response is that children aren’t spiders or snakes or viruses, they are human beings. They are needy people who take from you for years without giving anything in return. I, too, am not fond of children, but I did choose to have my own. The worst piece of advice I ever received: “You’ll never regret it.” That was false. I did regret it — child-rearing is full of hardship and inconvenience. But the day came when I stopped regretting it and thanked my lucky stars that I dug into this arduous task, because learning to love someone in this way changes you for the better. The letter writer would do well to stop looking at her nephew as an unwanted responsibility — though he is certainly that — and perhaps view him as an opportunity to love and, consequently, an opportunity for personal growth. Digging into love is always worthwhile, and the harder it is for someone, the more rewarding it can be. Mykelle

As a childless aunt (by choice), I just don’t love babies. No oohing and ahhing from me. But once my niece and nephew became a little older, with distinct personalities, I adored spending time with them. Now they are a teenager and young adult and I love spending time with them even more. They are fun and interesting humans. So if the letter writer goes through the motions a bit now, she can have a very rewarding relationship when her nephew grows up. If she shows disdain for him now, she might miss out on something very special later. Elise

Our species flourishes when we are raised in an environment of lovingkindness, compassion, joy and equanimity when we emerge from a safe nest. We know that children raised in such an environment are better behaved, better students and become better citizens. We don’t need to love all children in principle. But we do need to model the attributes that we’d like our family members to embrace. Judith

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