Can it be acceptable for an adult child to sacrifice his/her life for his/her parent?

Earlier today I was talking to CINDERELLA THE RHYMER, who is no biological or legal relationship to me but rather the half-sister of my firstborn son, who died when he was very young. She turned 30 this year. Cinderella’s bio parents are out of her life and she and I have grown very close over the past few years; at this point I basically consider her my stepdaughter (hence the pseudonym).

The conversation was initially and consciously very silly. At one point, Cinderella said she would die for me in some ridiculous context. At that, I sobered.I replied that that would not be acceptable. You’re my kid, I told her; you have to live longer than me. A situation in which she and I are both in danger and she escapes at the cost of my life seems to be a victory; the same situation in which I escape at the cost of her life would be a defeat. To me, at least.

Cinderella opined that she is a grown damn woman at now and no longer needs to be protected; In such a situation, she would have the right to make her own choices. Moreover, she reminded me of my fairly new handicap; being legally blind nowadays, I am in more danger on a regular basis than I was when she was 12 or even 20.

Which is all true, but it doesn’t change the way I feel about matters. Any parents (but particularly a father, it seems to me) who would except living at the cost of his child’s life is not worthy of the title.

Parents of adult children and adult children who love their parents: which of us would you say is more in the right?

I would have laid my life down for my Daddy in a heart beat. But he wouldn’t have accepted that.
With my children I would never allow that if I had a choice. I wouldn’t want to live without them anyway. The choice would be easy for me.
You are very lucky to have your Cinderella.IMO
ETA you’re right.

I would consider it acceptable but I certainly would not accept it.

My parents are in their mid-60s, and have probably another 20 years to go. They are also among the primary caretakers for my Beloved Niece. I, on the other hand, have probably another two years left, three if I’m very lucky, and toward the end they’ll be Very Unpleasant; furthermore, while I have many good friends who love me and a husband who adores me, I don’t have a child relying on me.

I would have to fight them for it, but it’s only logical that if only one of us could make it, it would be either of them rather than me.

To be wished for? Certainly not. Acceptable - as in, not every instance would be an outrage, even if some instances were - yes, it’s acceptable for it to occur under terrible and unusual circumstances.

I suspect giving your life to save your parent or child is motivated by the same love and is at some level instinctual. How you would think about it, what would make more sense, or be more pragmatic, has little bearing in reality, in my opinion.

I don’t think giving one’s life for one’s child would be at all the same as giving up one’s life for one’s parent. The former is a moral imperative to me; the latter is not. It is motivated by sentiment. I think I might have died to save my mother’s life while she was alive, or given her an organ at great risk to my own health; I would except neither from either my bio kids or Cinderella.

And yes, I am quite aware of the apparent contradiction in the above paragraph. It doesn’t bother me. Mother would not have wanted me to give her half my liver so that she could have lived. I think I could have only gotten away with it if she were unconscious at the time the operation had to be approved. My refusal to except a similar sacrifice from Cinderella (though the scenario we were talking about was intentionally ridiculous) would be my selfishly prioritizing my own peace of mind over hers. Skalds are jackasses, as you all know.

Probably I should have phrased the subject line as something like “Would you except the sacrifice of your child’s life to save your own?”

I blame Sweden.

I’m sorry, but are claiming if you wake in the ER to discover Cinderella, acting instinctively, died pulling you from in front of a careening car, you couldn’t ‘accept’ that? Aside from having no choice, of course you would come to accept it as the loving gesture and sacrifice it was.

I mean that I wouldn’t except her offer of, for example, half of her liver if I needed a liver transplant. The odds of a bad result for her are too high if they are as high as, say, 20%. Maybe 10%.

As for your car example: I know it’s a rational, but if the two of us are close enough that a careening car would have hit me had she not shoved me aside, it seems to me that she must have been in nearly as much danger and that start high star failed to protect her. It would be even worse if it were one of my bio kids, as all of them are actual little kids (where as Cinderella is only a small child in my head).

To live when others die in an accident is a whole other set of issues. The “Why did I live?” starts almost immediately after the accident.

The only person who can decide whether a sacrifice is acceptable is the one making the sacrifice. This may lead to situations where two people are in danger, and either can sacrifice to save the other, and they have to resolve between them who will do so. How they decide that is their business.

My dad objected to a gift of a new TV for the folks’ fiftieth anniversary. For him, the greatest “failure” in his life was relying on me, at a relatively small sacrifice, for less than two years. (I had invaluable support from family, hired caregivers, and my employer.) I believe that he accepted his death to relieve my burden, which was of course a gift.

To die for him with be a betrayal.

If the parent was a awesome doctor and the child was a serial rapist then it may be acceptable to society but still probably not to the parent.