2004-02-15 Homosexual Marriage and Civilization/07
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Balancing Family and Society
There's a lot of quid pro quo in civilization, though. Not all parents are good providers, for instance. So society, in one way or another, must provide for the children whose parents are either incapable or irresponsible.
Society must also step in to protect children from abusive adults; and the whole society must act in loco parentis, watching out for each other's children, trusting that someone else is also watching out for their own.
The degree of trust can be enormous. We send our children to school for an enormous portion of their childhood, trusting that the school will help civilize them while we parents devote more of our time to providing for them materially (or caring for younger children not yet in school).
At the same time, parents recognize that non-parents are not as trustworthy caretakers. The school provides some aspects of civilization, but not others. Schools expect the parents to civilize their children in certain ways in order to take part safely with other children; parents expect to be left alone with some aspects of child-rearing, such as religion.
In other words, there are countless ways that parents and society at large are constantly negotiating to find the best balance between the parents' natural desire to protect their children -- their entrants in the reproductive lottery -- and the civilization's need to bring the greatest number of children, not just to adulthood, but to parenthood as committed members of the society who will teach their children to also be good citizens.