Transition to parenthood and intergenerational relationships: the ethical value of family memory

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Inside the family, all individuals define their identity in relation to previous generations (those calling them to life), the present ones (those they share their life with), and the future ones (to whom they give life). This intergenerational exchange plays important educational roles: it fosters a sense of belonging and identification, promotes dialogue, and guarantees the passing down of ethical orientations. In addition to feelings of security and reliance on others, family memory creates a matrix that gives people a placement in the world, a sort of existential code through which to be located in the existence. Fostering the habit of memory-making becomes therefore a major educational imperative, which however is not without challenges. The present contribution will consider those phenomena which can give rise to a weakening of bonds between generations and a growing exclusion of the ethical value of family heritage. The educational perspective that will be drawn is that of building a sense of alliance between generations, without being locked only on those aspects of psychological functioning or emotional ones. In order to explore the role of family heritage across the whole of a family life cycle, the article focuses on the identity and relational dynamics that come into being during a crucial phase that repeats itself across generations, i.e. the transition to parenthood and thus the arrival of a new family member. The reflections developed around the symbolic value of this transition will draw on the results of a qualitative research, conducted in order to analyze the ethical heritage passing through the bond between generations and to understand how the enhancement of an intergenerational pact may restore the ethical depth of parenting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-48
Number of pages13
JournalEthics and Education
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • eredità etica
  • ethical heritage
  • famiglia
  • family
  • identity
  • identità
  • intergenerational relationships
  • memoria
  • memory
  • relazioni intergenerazionali


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