Parenting, also called child-rearing, is simultaneously a mundane but also prodigious task of great responsibility, as the English philosopher John Stuart Mill recognized: “Causing the existence of a human being is one of the most responsible actions in the range of human life. To undertake this responsibility—to bestow a life, which may be either a curse or a blessing—unless the being on whom it is to be bestowed will have at least the ordinary chances of a desirable existence—is a crime against that being.”

The individual is tasked with getting an altricial newborn to become a desirable or at least a healthy, competent, and productive adult. After all, shepherding a newborn through childhood to develop into a healthy adult is among the most significant activities ...

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