Another excerpt from my forthcoming One Body book, this time from the discussion of gamete donation (challenge to the reader: find the relevance of this to gamete donation):
Now, it is not merely the duty of the parents to bring it about that the children are cared for and appropriately educated morally, religiously and academically. Rather, it is the duty of the parents to care for and educate the child—i.e., to do it themselves. In caring for and educating the child, parents will make use of the help of others, including that of family members, friends, and professionals. How much the parents can rely on the help of others before they have failed in their duty of caring for and educating the child will depend on the circumstances.
There are thus two aspects of the parental duty: (a) caring for and educating, and (b) ensuring that the child is cared for and educated. In other words, there is the aspect of parental activity and the aspect of results. These two aspects need to be balanced prudently, and, moreover, balanced with other duties the parents may have; how they are balanced will depend on particular circumstances. In no cases will it be desirable and rarely will it be possible for the parents directly to care for and educate the child in all respects with the help of no one else. Moral education, for instance, requires contact with virtuous people of a significant variety of different characters, not just the parents. Academic education should typically include education in subjects in which the parents lack competency. The need to work to earn money to provide for the child can force the parents to delegate a significant degree care to a third party.
Here is an observation worth making. In most couples, there will be specialization. Thus, the mother might be working long hours to earn the money needed to diaper, feed, clothe, and house the child, while the father might be changing the diapers, feeding, clothing, and otherwise taking care of the child for most of the day. It might seem that in such cases, each parent will be neglecting an aspect of the parental responsibility to himself or herself care for and educate the child. But we can respond to this by noting that parents should be friends of each other, and bringing in an idea from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle considers what value there in having good friends. He observes that friends share a life, a friend is “another self,” and one can be active through one’s friend’s activity: what the friend does virtuously is something that accrues to oneself.