In light of Stefan Molyneux’s recent announcement of his cancer diagnosis I thought it would be fair to offer a bit of defense of his views of DEFOOing (De- Family Of Origin). It is one of the most frequent objections I come across against him which basically entails leaving your family if you deem them abusive. On its face there seems to be nothing objectionable about this at all. It seems that the objections out there are from parents who have done nothing wrong to their children and are heartbroken that they have been ostracized. I haven’t done a vast amount of research into this but from what I’ve heard from Molyneux is that he is not so very hard-lined to propose that if one’s parents do not immediately adopt libertarian, non-aggression ethics they should be outright abandoned. The problem is that this seems to be the criticism most voraciously leveled against him. I’ve listened to quite a few of his podcasts, and though I don’t subscribe to his own philosophy of Universally Preferable Behavior, he does offer what I believe are quite valuable insights on parenting. Further listening to some of his call in Sunday shows and the personal accounts of some his younger listeners in regards to their home life is really enlightening in just how intolerable situations can be for young people.
My position in regards to this comes from that of experience. Not so much personal, thankfully, my parents have done what I consider their “fair share” of raising me, though I certainly wouldn’t say it was to the best of their ability nor that I should have left them any earlier. I think it’s fair to have an honest acknowledgement of the parenting I’ve witnessed of others throughout my life, which at times was exponentially worse than what I went through. I think of the ways my parents lost their temper with me and am just astonished at the idea of treating a child this way. Though I’m not a parent myself, I have had room-mates in the past whose children would visit on weekends and I have watched them from time to time when the parent had to run to the store etc. Even when the children get out of control (which was very rare, they were extremely well-mannered) my methods in addressing their behavior are based on just that; addressing their behavior and explaining why I don’t want them to act in such a way, explaining how the results of such behavior affects others around them etc. Obviously I was not subject to the stress of being a parent and have no idea of that, I do think of the upbringing that some of my friends have had to go through and times when my parents behaved poorly.
It’s fair to assume that many of us have to some degree witnessed appalling or at best careless acts parents have committed when rearing children. Maybe if these people condemning Molyneux for recommending young people cut off all family ties with abusive members had listened to the personal experiences of some of the callers on his show they might have a better understanding of just how barbaric and unapologetic many parents can be. I tend to think there is a fair amount of willful ignorance on the part of those who fail to even remotely conceptualize why a child or young adult would want to abandon their family, as examples of these sorts of poor parenting are rather prevalent if one cares to look.