Saturday, November 4, 2017

Guidelines Please

by Andrew Cromwell

I shouldn’t have been surprised but I was. After all, I did take literature and philosophy classes in college. In them, I learned pretty much all I had taken for granted about the world was just wrong. All my life I had been told that there was such a thing as good and evil and right and wrong, but my professors told me that these concepts were just social constructs and nothing more than agreed upon norms society had chosen.

I learned there was really no such thing as “right” and “wrong”, only opinions about them. I learned you could pretty much believe whatever you wanted and that was just fine. What mattered was how strongly you felt about these things. Just as long as you didn’t make the mistake of telling someone else what they should think.

And that is why I shouldn’t have been surprised. Because now I see that this way of thinking is trickling down into nearly every area of our lives.

This is the reason parents are no longer giving guidelines to their kids. But let me come back to that in just a moment.

A teacher’s job is to guide and develop students, not just expose them to every thought on the subject. If we wanted only theories, we would buy a book or visit Wikipedia. But we seek teachers because we assume they have learned enough about the subject that they can guide our thoughts. No one is saying they have a corner on the market of truth, but we would hope that they have some experience and understanding that are helpful.

But a frequent strategy of teaching today (at least in college in the “soft sciences”) seems to be to expose the students to all the theories and let them make their own conclusions. This often leaves students confused and frustrated. When they ask “but which one is right?”, professors just shrug their shoulders.

Now, back to parenting. It seems parents have bought into this “neutral” stance when it comes to teaching their kids. The strategy seems to be to allow the kids to experience life and leave it to the child to pick their preferred path (or truth). The most important job in parenting seems to be safety — to keep the kid from injuring themselves on this journey of self-discovery.

Here’s the problem. Kids are dumb. Not in the “intelligence” sense but in the “experience” sense. This is why we put covers on electrical sockets and yell at them to keep them from running into the street. They just don’t know enough to know what is right and what is wrong. And half the time they don’t know if what they are feeling inside is an indication of what they should do next or the result of being tired or eating too much sugar or just being selfish.

And when parents don’t step in and actively teach and guide their kids but simply leave it up to the child, then they have failed. The number one job of a parent is not safety, but to teach and train their child in a way they should go.

Parents, you’re the experts (at least in your kids’ world)! Don’t let someone else be the expert for your child until the time is right for them to be handed off to another. Your children desperately need you to tell them what is right and what is wrong in this world that is confused about seemingly everything. 

Send your kids to bed early. Don’t let them watch, eat, play anything they want. Don’t just be their best friend, be their teacher and their guide. They will thank you for it later on!

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