Aakash asked:

We all are taught since our childhood that we should always obey our parents. But sometimes I get into an utter confusion.

Take for example,

My father is an obese.

He eats his dinner and asks me to take is plate to the kitchen. But I want him to take his plate on his own as I want him to get some exercise in the process.

But if I do not take his plate he would scold and criticize me.

What should I do in this condition?

Expecting reply.

Answer by Tony Fahey

Hi Aakash, isn’t it such a shame that one’s parents can be such a disappointment sometimes? I wonder what your father’s side of the story might be?

Whilst at first sight this might not seem to qualify as a philosophy question, since it involves the issue of how one ought to behave, and since the issue of how one ought to behave is concerned with Ethics, and since Ethics falls under the rubric of Philosophy, it seems to me that this question is not only worth addressing for its own sake, but also for its wider ramifications.

Let me begin by saying that whilst there appear to be a number of ways of approaching this issue, I do feel that your dilemma might have been more easily addressed had you taken the time to present it in a fuller and more objective manner. For example, you say that your father is obese, but do not say why this is the case: is his obesity genetic, because his work schedule does not allow him time to take the type of exercise he needs to keep in the kind of shape that you would like him to be in, or is it caused because he has a large appetite? Moreover, you do not say that he asks you to take his cleared plate away because he is tired after his days toil, because you are younger and fitter than your old man, because presumes you may be prepared to show your appreciation to him for furnishing you with a roof over your head, food on the table, and a solid education, that he is punishing you in some way for some unacknowledged (by you) misdemeanour, or because he is just too damn lazy.

Anyway, to what you could do: (1) you could accept that it’s not about what you want, but what is best for domestic harmony, and take the plate to the kitchen; (2) you could ask your father to take it the plate away himself, and put up with the consequences, (3) you could follow the childhood advice and be an obedient, and even grateful, son, or (4) you could even find a place of your own.