My Ethics, My Values, and My Motherhood

Got ethics?

Got ethics?

I am a Child and Studies Major at Syracuse University, and in a recent writing exercise I was tasked in finding the Code of Ethics in my field and examine it compared to my own values and ethics.

The NAEYC National Association for the Education of Young Children’s “Code of Ethical Conduct and Statement of Commitment”[1] has a long list of core values that use words like “appreciate,” “acknowledge” and “respect.”  In guiding my writing and indeed what I would consider my own ethical standards, I would use these same words. 

I would “appreciate” those parents before me, really mothers mostly, who were forward thinkers in their own time. And mothers who have views and strategies divergent from my own have a right to do what they want for their child.  I would “acknowledge” the history, both good and bad, of any topic I may be writing on and also “acknowledge” that there are no absolutes on any given subject.  I don’t mean to change my mind half way through writing something, but perhaps acknowledging a misremembered event, a fact that was only half right, or even that there are things that I don’t like have the right to be said, to be heard, and to exist.

Not only does NAEYC include “core values” but a conceptual framework broken down into four distinct categories (and within each there are ideals and principles):

  • Ethical Responsibilities to Children
  • Ethical Responsibilities to Families
  • Ethical Responsibilities to Colleagues
  • Ethical Responsibilities to Community and Society

NAEYC also has a “Statement of Commitment.” “This Statement of Commitment is not part of the Code but is a personal acknowledgment of the individual’s willingness to embrace the distinctive values and moral obligations of the field of early childhood care and education. It is recognition of the moral obligations that lead to an individual becoming part of the profession.)” (p. 9)

I can easily flip this to my point of view and say that as a mother, I think I automatically had a moral obligation to just about everything that NAEYC asserts in this document.  I would posit in my own writing I would, or rather will:

  • (have) Ethical Responsibilities to MY CHILD
  • (have) Ethical Responsibilities to MY FAMILY
  • (have) Ethical Responsibilities to MY COLLEAGUES AND INDIVIDUALS WHO WORK WITH MY SON
  • (have) Ethical Responsibilities to MY COMMUNITY, including the autistic community I am now a part of (and forever will be) and SOCIETY (good or bad, happy or sad, oh right, that’s a song…); this is less solid of a concept for me, but I feel I have an obligation nonetheless.

But, any Code cannot be static. It has to change in order to be fluid, be adopted by newer members of any given community whether it be early childhood educators, parents, writers, or any occupation or state of being:

“A code must respond to changes and diversity in the organization’s membership, to the moral climate of the nation and society, and to new challenges faced by the field (Feeney, 2010, p. 9)[2]

This is a realization I’ve already made myself.

[2] Feeney, S. (2010, March). Ethics TODAY in Early Care and Education Review, Reflection, and the Future. Young Children, 72-77. Available:


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