Live With Integrity
About a month ago I was on the phone having a conversation with my older brother when I got the idea for this post, though I didn’t know it just yet. When talking to this man you know you will get a genuine and quality conversation. There is always a chance that you will be glued to your phone for three hours (or more). But the thing is, you won’t even notice the time because the ideas you are discussing hold great insight and wonder. You’ll be left to question how the ideas you discussed during your conversation can be applied to every aspect of your life. The topic of living with integrity came up and we discussed several different ways we could possibly be doing that better. I won’t go into the specifics here, but, as they tend to do, the ideas we discussed infiltrated my mind for weeks after the conversation had ended.
Let’s start by defining integrity. Integrity: “is the qualifications of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. It is generally a personal choice to hold oneself to consistent moral and ethical standards.”1 So living with integrity would be the choice to consistently hold yourself to your moral and ethical standards.
Now, I fully understand that the words moral and ethical could be debated on a wide range of levels. We would have to define what morality is and isn’t, as well as what is ethical and what isn’t; then move forward from there. But obviously I want to stay on the topic of living with integrity. If I wanted to discuss the definitions of morality and ethics, then I would do that. All cards on the table, I am not one hundred percent sure about morality and ethics as it is a very deep and complex topic. Sure we have textbook definitions but I have just started to delve into this deep topic. I have not lived with integrity for my whole life (or even most of my life), which means I am far from an expert in this area. For now I am busy saving the world by trying to spread the philosophy behind peaceful parenting. I do my best to listen to philosophy podcasts and do as much reading as I can but we can’t know it all, and in the end we must choose. I know that using aggression or manipulation towards a child is not moral, which is why I’m starting here.
Once this idea was embedded in my mind, the main thing I wondered was: How can living with integrity be applied to parenting? The ways seemed to be endless to me as I found myself discovering a different way each day. I thought it might be fun to discuss the ways I think the concept of living with integrity applies to parenting. I’m going to use more broad categories because breaking each category down would result in a book rather than a blog post.
This was the first and most obvious idea that came to my mind. Obviously, if we say it is immoral to use physical force against each other and we choose to peaceful parent, then we are choosing to stay consistent in the moral standard that using physical force against someone is wrong. We did not make the exception because “hitting a child is okay because I have authority over the child” or “hitting a child is okay because it teaches them a lesson”, etc. Living with integrity must not include asterisks, such as the ones listed above. Consistency is key.
Vetting the people that have contact with your child.
The idea here is that if you do not know the people that influence your child, then there is a huge chance that they will be exposed to things that you have chosen not to expose them to. For instance, if your daughter wants to spend the night at a friend’s house but you haven’t explicitly asked those parents if they spank or yell, and they do, then your daughter may be subjected to those things during the sleepover. Naturally, since you authorized this sleepover your daughter will assume that you approve of this behavior; which you kind of did. It’s like signing a contract without reading it; whatever consequences come from your lack of care is ultimately your fault. Living with integrity in terms of how that applies to parenting, would require you to vet every person in your child’s life. (One reason why I homeschool.) I would really urge you to consider if this is something you have done or are doing, because it is imperative to the well being of your child.
Some people might think that the argument could be made that eating healthy is not a moral dilemma. As a grown up who does not have any children and does not plan on having any children, fine. But when you bring children into the mix, you have a different point to defend. If you are eating unhealthy, you are choosing the fate of another human being’s health later in life. Feeding your child fast food once a week is telling them that that is an acceptable standard of healthy eating. I promise you it isn’t. Not rationing your child’s sugar intake is doing the same thing. Your child is going to think these things are healthy because you are serving it to them; it has the mom/dad stamp of approval on it. Consider this: we added “no asterisks allowed” to our definition of living with integrity. This means that you cannot tell or expect your child to eat their vegetables because “they’re good for you” if you do not have a healthy diet.
Stand up for children being harmed in your presence.
This one scares me. It shouldn’t but it really does. Mainly because I feel that the child you are trying to protect might receive extra harm later. Stefan Molyneux, host of freedomainradio.com, made a significant argument about this during one of his call in shows that really struck my conscience. I’m paraphrasing here but essentially he said “Other people knew about the abuse, teachers, friends, people at church, and they did nothing. I remember them and what I remember is that they approved of my abuse.” I thought of the times I was being screamed at in public and not one person did anything. I thought of the times I had been at a friend’s house and abuse occurred. I thought of a time when I heard a mother slap her child in the face through the wall in a crappy apartment next to mine. And I realized, I was just another person confirming that they deserved the abuse that they were receiving. That’s not living with integrity; that’s living with fear. If your child sees you witnessing abuse and you do nothing, then you are condoning the abuse of that child. You will be contradicting the very values you are trying to uphold in your home. Hypocrisy belongs nowhere near philosophy, or parenting.
Living with integrity in regards to parenting means being aware of what your stamp of approval goes on. When you have children you have to think about these things twice, once for you and once for your child. It means making sure that the ethical standards that you set stay consistent in your life and the lives of your child. I might still be trying to figure out the true meaning behind all of these ideas but that’s what makes this journey exciting. Three hour conversations that result in thoughts that last more than three weeks, testing our ideas against the ideas of others, and changing our minds because of arguments so compelling you have no other choice, are just some of the joys of this journey.
1) Integrity, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrity