The Academic Parent’s Dilemma: Should I spend less time doing research?




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I recently became a parent for the second time. As a result, I now have two children under the age of 2 (well, technically, the first just turned 2 at the time of writing and will probably be 2 and a bit by the time you read this). As all parents know, being a parent is both rewarding and challenging. One of the obvious challenges, and one that I have been struggling with a lot, is that of figuring out the appropriate work-life balance. Given my academic predilections, it is no surprise that I tend to think of this issue in moral and philosophical terms. The question arises: What are my duties, as a parent, with respect to the amount of time I spend caring for my children and the amount of time I spend doing research-related work? Should I spend more time doing the former and less doing the latter? To sharpen the question: most of the time I spend on research is optional. There is no one cracking a whip and forcing me to read books and write articles. I do it largely because I enjoy doing it. It is true that research is, officially, part of my contract of employment; but it is also true to say that this part of my contract is weakly (if ever) enforced. This creates something of a moral dilemma every time I sit down to write an article or do some other research-related task. I have to ask myself: should I be doing this or should I be spending the time with my children? The following article is my attempt to answer that question. Not to bury the lede: my conclusion is that, in most cases where I have a choice, I should probably opt to spend more time with my kids. That said, there are some countervailing considerations and they are worth taking into account. 1. The Case for Sacrificing Research for Time With Kids Let me start by outlining an argument for thinking that one ought to spend more time with one’s children. This argument formalises the intuition motivating this article: that there is something ethically or morally questionable about dedicating time to. . .

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News source: Philosophical Disquisitions