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Week 3 Questions for Know Thyself in 2019: Parent-Child Relationships

(This blog is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!)

This week’s question topic: parent-child relationships

I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.


If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother.

The author of the two preceding quotes is Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), an Austrian psychiatrist especially famous for relating all mental abnormalities back to idiosyncrasies in the parent-child relationship. I don’t know if I agree that the parent-child relationship is wholly defining of us, but it is

mom and emily

Me with my mom

surely fundamental to the people we become.


Human beings need parental figures for survival and social development. The first people you interacted with were probably your parents.  The parent-child relationship is an unavoidable source of tension but it can also be an irreplaceable source of joy.

Knowing what you think about your parents can help you understand the source of disagreements.  It can also reveal the source of your expectations for other types of relationships.  Your ideas about the parent-child relationship are a mix of cultural norms, religious rules, and social conditioning.

The Questions:

  1. Do you think that a “real” parents must be related by genetics?  Is this why adopted children in a sense never stop searching?
  2. Think of people you consider to be your father and/or mother.  How are these people related to you – did you choose them, are they genetically related, or did life circumstances give them to you?
  3. Should a child ever disobey a parent? Did you? (Should they start to disobey at a certain age or in certain circumstances?)
  4. Under what circumstances should parents transfer their duty of care to others? (Or should they never?)
  5. Why do you think a relationship is difficult when parents and children are close in maturity level or intelligence?
  6. Do you think loving someone requires you to show it in certain ways in order for it to be real or can you love someone from a distance?
  7. What does it mean to you to “be there for” a family member?

How to Get the most out of Know Thyself 2019:

Don’t rush through the questions.  Try to do only one question every morning, leaving space to add thoughts that might come up later during the day. The journal is designed to help you develop a consistent, daily practice of self-reflection which will help you more than doing 10 questions in one day, then none for a month.  Subscribe by email to have the weekly questions delivered to your inbox!

dad and emily

Me, my brother Emerson, and dad – the man who taught me all about philosophy!

Links to previous weeks:

Week 1: Sleep  Week 2: Pleasure



  1. Pingback: Week 4 Questions for “Know Thyself 2019”: Disagreement – Emily's Everything

  2. Pingback: Week 5 Questions for “Know Thyself 2019”: NOW – Emily's Everything

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