Thursday, July 7, 2011

Raising Thinkers, that still have trust

We constantly talk in the house about what people tell us, what we see on TV, and what it all means to us on a day to day level. Do the people on the cereal commercial really tell us the truth? Do our friends really know the answer to that? Are you telling someone accurate information, facts verses just what you think it true?

Raising a thinker and a questioner that can ask questions and be skeptical, but still show trust and respect can be a really tough line to walk. Sometimes it is the kid who sets the path to questioning; Thing Two questions a lot and is very skeptical about what anyone says. Teaching him to question and ask for the background information, but not come off as disrespectful or rude can be difficult. Reminding him that most people are not telling him falsehoods intentionally and that if you question it in a way that isn’t respectful people can become frustrated has been a challenge. Telling him that sometimes it is better to come back home and ask the questions instead of asking the questions of the adult they are suppose to be showing respect to is always an option. On the other side, Thing One trusts people and doesn’t tend to question as much what people say, she will frequently believe or pretend to believe because she finds it easier. With her the focus is on having the confidence to ask the questions and know the difference believing the information you are told and asking a questions to verify that information. Insert, it is not nice to roll your eyes in front of an adult if you think they are full of it. To me it is really important to raise thinkers, thinkers that don’t just believe what they are told, but also trust people and are respectful to the adults around them.

How did we start the Things off with questioning and looking at things with a critical eye, commercials. Commercials are a great way to talk about what information is coming into their lives on a daily basis and what may or may not be true. Just because the kids on the commercial fly up into the air after they ate that thing, does that mean you will? Just because that toy made a perfect spiral and looped through the hoop does that mean it will do it when you play with it? These first questions and discussions formed a great foundation to talk about other information coming into their lives. When a friend at daycare tells you that someone is going to burn down your school because it was vandalized (true situation), is that true, how do they know that, what makes that information accurate? As the Things have gotten older we have encouraged them to check the facts when we can, but have also balanced that with the idea of information from a trusted source. There are people that consistently give you accurate information, and you can trust them and should. When sources are friends or people we don’t always believe ask some questions; can you look up the thing that was stated and what does it say, do you believe what is said and why do you believe it.

We explained some time back that the Internet was really a lot of people talking, just in type, and that they can say anything. Just because something is written down doesn’t mean it’s true. Trying to explain the concept that people and sometimes writing isn’t the facts of a situation can be difficult. At this point we are really explaining it in the way of fiction verses a nonfiction book. A book that is fiction is just a good story, but probably not a lot of facts. A nonfiction book is facts, and most of the time those facts can be found in other books that are referenced in the back.

This is still a growing concept in our house and we are just starting to talk about the ideas that sometimes the facts are bent to explain a particular reason or purposes, but these concepts still have a long way to go. I assume we will not stop any of these discussions any time soon and that the Things will continue to try and develop a strong bull shit meter and ask questions in a way that is appreciative of the people around them. Don’t think some of this hasn’t already bit me in the butt though, I get questioned more than I would like and have spent time checking a fact on the Internet when I wasn’t sure. I like that they question and hope we are teaching them to continue to question, as tough as it sometimes can be.


  1. Excellent perspective! I love your goal of raising respectful thinkers. Far too few parents do that, it seems.

  2. I like the bit about the internet especially well!!! There are a lot of adults that could learn about not trusting everything you read on the internet, just because it's on the darn thing! Love your insights Erica!