Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter iii: Of Parental Duty - The Elements of Moral Philosophy
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chapter iii: Of Parental Duty - David Fordyce, The Elements of Moral Philosophy 
The Elements of Moral Philosophy, in Three Books with a Brief Account of the Nature, Progress, and Origin of Philosophy, ed. Thomas Kennedy (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003).
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Of Parental Duty
Connection of Parents and ChildrenThe Connection of Parents with their Children is a natural Consequence of the matrimonial Connection, and the Duties which they owe them, result as naturally from that Connection. The feeble State of Children, subject to so many Wants and Dangers, requires their incessant Cares and Attention; their ignorant and uncultivated Minds demand their continual Instruction and Culture. Had human Creatures come into the World with the full Strength of Men, and the Weakness of Reason and Vehemence of Passions which prevail in Children, they would have been too strong, or too stubborn, to have submitted to the Government and Instruction of their Parents. But as they were designed for a Progression in Knowledge and Virtue, it was proper that the Growth of their Bodies should keep pace with that of their Minds, lest the Purposes of that Progression should have been defeated. Among other admirable Purposes which this gradual Expansion of their outward as well as inward Structure serves, this is one, that it affords ample Scope to the Exercise of many tender and generous Affections, which fill up the domestic Life with a beautiful Variety of Duties and Enjoyments; and are of course a noble Discipline for the Heart, and an hardy kind of Education for the more honourable and important Duties of public Life.
The Authority founded on that ConnectionThe above-mentioned weak and ignorant State of Children, seems plainly to invest their Parents with such Authority and Power as is necessary to their Support, Protection, and Education; but that Authority and Power can be construed to extend no farther than is necessary to answer those Ends, and to last no longer than that Weakness and Ignorance continue; wherefore the Foundation or Reason of the Authority and Power ceasing, they cease of course. Whatever Power or Authority then it may be necessary or lawful for Parents to exercise during the Non-age of their Children, to assume or usurp the same when they have attained the Maturity or full Exercise of their Strength and Reason, would be tyrannical and unjust. From hence it is evident, that Parents have no Right to punish the Persons of their Children more severely than the Nature of their Wardship requires, much less to invade their Lives, to encroach upon their Liberty, or transfer them as their Property to any Master whatsoever. But if any Parent should be so unjust and inhuman as to consider and treat them like his other Goods and Chattles, surely whenever they dare, they may resist, and whenever they can, shake off that inhuman and unnatural Yoke, and be free with that Liberty with which God and Nature has invested them.
Duties of ParentsThe first Class of Duties which Parents owe their Children respect their natural Life; and these comprehend Protection, Nurture, Provision, introducing them into the World in a manner suitable to their Rank and Fortune, and the like.
EducationThe second Order of Duties regards the intellectual and moral Life of their Children, or their Education in such Arts and Accomplishments, as are necessary to qualify them for performing the Duties they owe to themselves and to others. As this was found to be the principal Design of the matrimonial Alliance, so the fulfilling that Design is the most important and dignified of all the parental Duties. In order therefore to fit the Child for acting his Part wisely and worthily, as a Man, as a Citizen, and a Creature of God, both Parents ought to combine their joint Wisdom, Authority, and Power, and each apart to employ those Talents which are the peculiar Excellency and Ornament of their respective Sex. The Father ought to lay out and superintend their Education, the Mother to execute and manage the Detail of which she is capable. The former should direct the manly Exertion of the intellectual and moral Powers of the Child. His Imagination, and the manner of those Exertions, are the peculiar Province of the latter. The former should advise, protect, command, and by his Experience, masculine Vigour, and that superior Authority which is commonly ascribed to his Sex, brace and strengthen his Pupil for active Life, for Gravity, Integrity, and Firmness in Suffering. The Business of the latter is to bend and soften her Male Pupil, by the Charms of her Conversation, and the Softness and Decency of her Manners, for social Life, for Politeness of Taste, and the elegant Decorums of and Enjoyments of Humanity; and to improve and refine the Tenderness and Modesty of her Female Pupil, and form her to all those mild domestic Virtues, which are the peculiar Characteristics and Ornaments of her Sex.
To conduct the opening Minds of their sweet Charge through the several Periods of their Progress, to assist them in each Period in throwing out the latent Seeds of Reason and Ingenuity, and in gaining fresh Accessions of Light and Virtue; and at length, with all these Advantages, to produce the young Adventurers upon the great Theatre of human Life, to play their several Parts in the Sight of their Friends, of Society, and Mankind! How gloriously does Heaven reward the Task, when the Parents behold those dear Images and Representatives of themselves, inheriting their Virtues as well as Fortunes, sustaining their respective Characters gracefully and worthily, and giving them the agreeable Prospect of transmitting their Name with growing Honour and Advantage to a Race yet unborn!
[7.]Lines 1149–53 from “Spring,” the third part of the epic poem The Seasons (London, 1726–30, revised 1744) by the Scottish poet James Thomson (1700–48). Fordyce has elided the third line (1151), “To pour the fresh instruction o’er the mind.”