Lincoln started karate classes this week, and at the end of each class they have a "talk." Part of this week’s talk was about listening to your parents. The instructor went on about how your parents know everything and you should always listen to them. It kind of made me cringe. Why? Because I don’t think kids should assume their parents are right about everything.
I would not be the person I am today if I didn’t question some things my parents tried to teach me (and I like me). Today, we have very different opinions on politics, people, and many (many, many) other things, and I’m glad I went my own way at times. They tried to raise me the way they thought was best just like I’m trying to do with my kids, but some of their lessons were just bananas, and I’m glad I recognized that – sometimes it was right away, sometimes it was much, much later.
Now, I'm not talking about constant defiance or lack of respect. There are things Linc and Reagan MUST listen to us about for their own safety (strangers, drugs, not letting the dog lick your mouth, not walking in the middle of the street, etc.) and how to respect others, but I want to encourage them to ask me "why?" on other topics. (Your definition of "other topics" may be different than mine. That's cool.) I get asked "why" now by my four-year-old, of course, and I ask “why do you think?” I want him to ask questions. I want him to obtain different viewpoints and opinions other than mine and my husband's. When I was growing up, I was TOLD what to think and struggled when my gut feelings were different. In my opinion, we're here to guide, not to drill all our beliefs into them so they spit back out what we say. We tell them what we think and feel, and they can do what they want with that. If they think mommy and/or daddy are NUTS, then go ahead and go off and find a way you think is better for you and we'll discuss. If you think mommy and/or daddy are the smartest people alive go ahead and think what we think. It's cool either way. I don't have all the answers!
I just want a discussion to flow. I want open communication. I want questions asked of everyone. ("Why did Billy say this? Is it true?" and "Why do you believe in this? What if I don’t?") I want my kids to be themselves, to be kind, to have experiences. Just like my experiences have formed my thoughts and opinions, theirs will blow their minds and shape them as human beings. I want them to know it's all OK.
Do you always want your kids to believe and think what you do or ask questions?