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Home Sweet Home

Friday, Jun. 21, 2013

The best student comment on "Home Sweet Home" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, July 7th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

**DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**

After a long, tough finals week, Sophia has completed her freshman year of college. She can’t believe how fast the year went. She made many new friends and experienced the freedom of independence, living away from her parents for the first time in her life. Now, it’s summer break, and Sophia is returning home to work for a local restaurant. All she wants to do during break is work, go to the gym, and hang out with her old high school friends.

Sophia’s parents are very strict and like to know where she is at all times. They also enjoy having her at home to spend time with the family, and stress the importance of academics and getting good grades. In high school, Sophia often had to stay home at nights when her friends were getting together. When Sophia was allowed out, she had to return home before her parents went to bed at midnight.

Sophia has gotten used to the freedom of college, however. She’s 19 now, after all. She enjoys being spontaneous, making her own choices, not having to report her coordinates to her parents at all times, and staying out late. That being said, she has still been able to maintain over a 3.7 cumulative GPA in her first year at college.

Several days after returning home for break, Sophia’s best friend from high school decides to host a reunion party. Sophia works from 10am to 4pm at the restaurant, heads to the gym, and makes it home in time for dinner at 6pm.

At the dinner table, Sophia tells her parents she is going to the reunion party in a couple of hours. While Sophia loves to be spontaneous, her parents love to schedule out their plans well ahead of time. They inform Sophia that they’ve planned a family night and that she needs to be home to spend time with her two younger siblings.

Conversation turns into argument. Sophia claims she is independent now and can make her own decisions. Her parents state that while she is still living under their roof, she needs to listen to their judgment. They stress they are not being the “fun police,” but are emphasizing family values. If Sophia would have told them ahead of time, they claim they would have let her go. 

Sophia pretends to go to bed upset and sneaks out to go to the party.

Should Sophia have snuck out to go to the party? Have you ever snuck out from home? Is Sophia independent? Should she be able to make her own decisions at home? Is it fair for Sophia’s parents to ask her to plan ahead of time, or should she be allowed to continue her spontaneous nature? Is there a point of compromise?

Useful Resources:

A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

Social Intelligence: Returning Home from College for the Summer

 

Comments Comments

Brian said on Jun 24, 2013
Sophia should not have snuck out to the party, regardless of what occurred beforehand. Doing so crosses the line from trying to act independent to actively deceiving her parents, and regardless of the situation that is not okay. As for the dilemma, both the parents and Sophia must sit down and have an honest discussion about the evolving relationship they have now. Meaning, Sophia is at an age where her parents allow her to attend a university where they cannot monitor her every move. She has more freedom there, and should therefore have some more freedom when she heads back home. However, it is entirely reasonable for her parents to limit that to some degree. She is home for the summer and should spend time with her family, should enjoy board games, and should keep her parents in the loop with what she is doing. The point of compromise revolves around both parties retracting their rigid stances on either complete independence (Sophia), or "my way or the highway" (parents). A middle ground can be found where both parents and Sophia are happy. Maybe 1 or 2 nights a week are reserved for family nights? Maybe 1-2 nights a week Sophia is allowed to go out with friends. Maybe it varies week to week. There are plenty of reasonable solutions to the problem at hand. - Like - 3 people like this.
cstrick said on Jun 24, 2013
Great effort Brian, I would just like to respectively point out a couple of concerns I had regarding your response. Your statement ?doing so crosses the line from trying to act independent to deceiving her parents? confused me. Her action of defying her parents is an independent act that can be seen as reinforcing her independence. You conclude this sentence with ?regardless of the situation that is not ok? which leads me to another ethical question. If Sophia had a friend who was going to die at this party would it still not be ok for her to sneak out to try to save her? Regardless of the situation is a very powerful phrase when investigating ethical issues. This could be perceived as a harsh view in certain situations. Another statement soon follows ?She has more freedom there, and should therefore have some more freedom when she heads back home. However, it is entirely reasonable for her parents to limit that to some degree.? The first statement seems to imply she should have more freedom at home, and the second statement seems to imply her parents are right by giving her less freedom. This is kind of hypocritical and really does not help us advance our ethical investigation. The solution you posted to the problem is a great suggestion that I think both parties would agree to. Unfortunately in this case, the solution you posted just won?t work. The issue is that both sides of the disagreement want different things on that particular night, not future nights during the week. I hope my clarifications/comments helped. - Like - 5 people like this.
Brian said on Jun 24, 2013
I appreciate the concern and time you took to evaluate my response; for what good is an ethical discussion without discussion! It appears some of my phrases might have been a bit confusing, allow me to shed a bit more light on them. To address your first concern regarding the ethicality of deceiving her parents, I do believe that at some point there would be a moral obligation to leave the vicinity of the house to save a life. However, in the context of our discussion, I was assuming that any motivation to leave, givens the parameters of the discussion, would be unacceptable. Any reasonable reason for her leaving the house clearly points to her trying to deceive her parents in order to hang out with her friends. Which in my opinion, is the wrong way for Sophia to go about solving the problem. As for your second concern, it appears I wasn't very clear in the words I choose. Allow me to better state my words... Sophia has more freedom at school than what she had while she lived at home. Coming back home for the summer, Sophia should be given more freedom than what she had when she left for school originally. As for the limitations, I only meant to point out that ALL of the liberties she may have enjoyed at school aren't necessarily appropriate while she is at home. Sophia's parents have the right to restrict her independence and freedoms to some degree. As for your final concern, I do believe that my answer is sufficient in giving a long term goal for how Sophia and her parents can work out their disagreements. Solving the problem for one night won't do anything to prevent a problem arising again the next night. I believe my solution is comprehensive and leaves rooms for varying solutions based on the mutual interests of Sophia and her parents. I hope that this helped clarify some of my statements above and gives you a better understanding of where my ethical opinions lie. - Like - 1 person likes this.
cstrick said on Jun 24, 2013
Brian, I agree with many things you said, but I still disagree with other things nonetheless. I find it difficult to conclude that Sophia leaves purely off of the motive to deceive her parents, as this judges the character of Sophia, something I feel we cannot determine from the information given. Perhaps the motive to see her friends is the driving factor in this decision and she does not consider alternatives due to the excitement she has to see her friends? Again, there is no way to tell. As for your long term answer I agree again that it is sufficient regarding the question Is there a point of compromise, but I still believe it is out of the scope for the majority of the original questions. This long term answer still does not answer: Should Sophia have snuck out to go to the party?, Should she be able to make her own decisions at home (including the immediate decision that night)? Is it fair for Sophia?s parents to ask her to plan ahead of time, or should she be allowed to continue her spontaneous nature? I think that these are some of the core ethical questions we should be discussing in order to advance our discussion. One could argue that since Sophia is a legal adult, she is free to make her own decisions. I think that it could also be argued that it is unfair for Sophia?s parents to spontaneously announce a family night, while at the same time Sophia spontaneously announces that she is going to a reunion. Her parents argue that if she would have told them ahead of time, they claim that they would have let her go. Why do you think that it isn?t fair for Sophia to hold her parents to the same standard? Thank you for your clarification, I look forward to hearing from you. - Like
Thomas said on Jun 24, 2013
Sophia should not have snuck out. It's unfair to her parents if anything were to happen to her. I have snuck out from home in the past. Sophia is partially independent, but while she is still living under her parents' roof she should still listen to her parents. Planning ahead of time is important, but it unrealistic to assume college students will plan ahead for everything. Sophia and her parents should have compromised. Perhaps she could've hung out with her family for a few hours and then have gone out after. - Like - 1 person likes this.
Thomas said on Jun 24, 2013
Sophia should not have snuck out. It's unfair to her parents if anything were to happen to her. I have snuck out from home in the past. Sophia is partially independent, but while she is still living under her parents' roof she should still listen to her parents. Planning ahead of time is important, but it unrealistic to assume college students will plan ahead for everything. Sophia and her parents should have compromised. Perhaps she could've hung out with her family for a few hours and then have gone out after. - Like - 1 person likes this.
Thomas said on Jun 24, 2013
Sophia should not have snuck out. It's unfair to her parents if anything were to happen to her. I have snuck out from home in the past. Sophia is partially independent, but while she is still living under her parents' roof she should still listen to her parents. Planning ahead of time is important, but it unrealistic to assume college students will plan ahead for everything. Sophia and her parents should have compromised. Perhaps she could've hung out with her family for a few hours and then have gone out after. - Like - 1 person likes this.
James Harsh said on Jun 24, 2013
Since Sophia is legally an adult, she is responsible for her own decisions. She is, however, still a dependent of her parents (assuming they pay for her education, housing, and other living expense). Sophia is not completely independent until she bears all costs of her education and daily life. It is stated that she lives at home, and unless she is paying rent, this is evidence that she is depends on her parents. Out of respect for her parents, Sophia should comply with their wishes and stay home for her family night. After living away from her family for a year, it is not too much to ask for her to skip one night of partying. In this case, she should have not snuck out to go to the party against her parents wishes. A point of compromise should be met between Sophia and her parents. She is legally able to make her own decisions but still must answer to her parents who fund her lifestyle. Asking for her to plan events ahead of time is not an unreasonable request. Her parents. however, should also compromise with her since she has proven that she is responsible enough to complete a year of school (with a high GPA,) while making her own spontaneous decisions. I personally have not snuck out against my parents will because I take the time to notify them of my plans ahead of time. If they are against me carrying out my plans, I respect their wishes and stay home for the night. There will always be another time in the future to meet with friends. - Like - 1 person likes this.
James Harsh said on Jun 24, 2013
Since Sophia is legally an adult, she is responsible for her own decisions. She is, however, still a dependent of her parents (assuming they pay for her education, housing, and other living expense). Sophia is not completely independent until she bears all costs of her education and daily life. It is stated that she lives at home, and unless she is paying rent, this is evidence that she is depends on her parents. Out of respect for her parents, Sophia should comply with their wishes and stay home for her family night. After living away from her family for a year, it is not too much to ask for her to skip one night of partying. In this case, she should have not snuck out to go to the party against her parents wishes. A point of compromise should be met between Sophia and her parents. She is legally able to make her own decisions but still must answer to her parents who fund her lifestyle. Asking for her to plan events ahead of time is not an unreasonable request. Her parents. however, should also compromise with her since she has proven that she is responsible enough to complete a year of school (with a high GPA,) while making her own spontaneous decisions. I personally have not snuck out against my parents will because I take the time to notify them of my plans ahead of time. If they are against me carrying out my plans, I respect their wishes and stay home for the night. There will always be another time in the future to meet with friends. - Like - 1 person likes this.
g.v.g. said on Jun 24, 2013
Simple answer is she should not have snuck out. My family has always lived by the "my house, my rules" theory. If her parents find out she snuck out it is only going to make things worse. I know at the time it may seem like a good idea, but looking back on my life and from my own experiences it really isn't. I have never snuck out, my parents were always very watchful, but at the same time we trusted each other and their trust was more important in the long run. Sophia isn't truly independent. She may feel that way, but until she has a job and pays her own way, she is dependent on her parents in my mind. I think it is fair for her parents to ask because it is their household, and I personally would want to know ahead. I do not think that with her parents there really is a fair compromise. Also, during the school year she has so much freedom that in the bigger picture, one party does not really matter, she can sacrifice a small amount of time for her family. Her option is really a lose-lose option because her parents won't trust her anymore and they will make it even harder for her to do anything. - Like - 1 person likes this.
Daniel said on Jun 24, 2013
According to Nick Vanterige, renowned author of "Glepko Vandertag and Watson", which is an overview of Kantian ethics, the categorical imperative, a universal guideline to living, dictates that one, Sophia in this case, should not have acted in a way which she would not have liked to be treated; for example, sneaking out of her family's home. - Like - 1 person likes this.
Jeremy said on Jul 3, 2013
The biggest issue in this case is that Sophia, knowing that her parents like to be informed ahead of time, spent apparently an entire day?during which time she could have easily made a quick call to her parents before dinner?without telling them she was planning on going to the reunion. Though a "family night" is not the hardest thing to reschedule, it was Sophia's responsibility to inform her parents of conflicts as they arose. As someone currently benefitting from living in the same house as her parents, Sophia is obligated to keep her parents posted as to her schedule so they can plan ahead. If they don't know what she's doing, they won't know what they can do in the future, either. What Sophia did afterward was petty and childish, resulting from her refusal to admit her own mistakes. I have never snuck out of my house, but I never really felt the urge. - Like
The Big Q said on Jul 8, 2013
Congrats to Brian, winner of a $100 Amazon gift certificate for the best comment on this Big Q. We felt he did the best job of responding and then clarifying his answer. - Like
F Hijjawi said on Jan 30, 2014
First and foremost, I don't think that Sophia's decision to sneak out demonstrated any form of independence or integrity. Although I completely understand where she is coming from, with her good grades and desire to have some freedom while at home, to sneak out of the house means that she is lying to her parents, and that is in many ways unethical. However, Sophia's parents didn't do a good a job trying to find a solution as they may have thought they did. If they expected Sophia to stay at home and inform them of her plans in advance, then they should extend the same courtesy. That way, Sophia would have known what was expected of her and could reschedule the date and time of the party. In a sense, just agreeing to plan things ahead of time would avoid many conflicts and allow Sophia the independence she craves and her parents the family time they want. - Like
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