What if my child wants me to help her murder someone?

“What if my child wants me to help her murder someone?”

Ah, a classic unrealistic extreme what-if question! And not just any extreme what-if question, but a question asking what if a child who has been taken seriously as an individual whose life is her own wants not just not to take this other person seriously as an individual whose life is his own, but to take his life! Not happening!

“What if the person she wants to murder is a mass murderer?”

Then whilst it may be morally unobjectionable to kill such a person, and if someone were trying to murder me or my child I would try to stop them any way I could, which might involve using lethal force against them, in the vast majority of real life cases we are not in such a life-and-death situation, and it would be illegal to hunt and murder even a mass murderer, and if we were to do so, our lives could be ruined. We might well end up in prison. Or we might end up as the mass murderer’s next victims. And what if we got it wrong and murdered the wrong person? We are fallible. We might make a mistake. Then what?!

Were such an issue ever to arise, we would have a very interesting conversation about it, that’s for sure! And the conversation would not take the form of me pessimistically assuming the worst about my child and shaming her for having such a thought, it would be an enjoyable conversation in which I am assuming that my child is well-intentioned. Sometimes a child might be exploring an idea thought-experiment style, or wondering what makes something seem wrong, or why someone might want to do something. Playing with ideas is a joy for all of us, especially children lucky enough to be in an environment in which it is safe to think about and to discuss potentially difficult or controversial issues.

If my child had such a commitment to stopping mass murderers murdering people, maybe she might like to pursue a career in a relevant field, like law, criminal justice, policing or the military?

See also:

Sarah Fitz-Claridge, Taking Children Seriously FAQ: ‘What if my child wants me to help her murder someone?’ https://www.takingchildrenseriously.com/what-if-my-child-wants-me-to-help-her-murder-someone/

Leave a comment