We need to be ready and able as dads to further assist our children in processing information. For those of you that wish to look at my first article on discernment, click here. For the article on processing information, you can find that here. So why do a continuation on this topic? What your child interacts with will formulate their opinions, convictions, and who they are. For dads that want to take this topic to another level, this article is for you.
What is good and bad? What is right and wrong? These two questions govern so much of what your child will think, say, and do. Some individuals believe that parents can over-analyze things. I agree to an extent, especially when it comes to worrying. The last thing that I want to do is to encourage paranoia in dads about what their kids see and hear. You are their dad. Where they go, who they are with, and what is acceptable information in “mostly” in your control for the early years. However, the more that they engage the world, the more conflicting information they will digest.
As discussed in previous articles and with common sense, we can conclude that trust is a HUGE factor in what our children will accept and reject as being right or wrong. Left to their “feelings”, most of the time they will gravitate towards their default settings…mom and dad. However, as their gratitude and peer pressure buttons are pushed, you will begin to see a separation between what you have taught and some of their individual convictions. Please note that this does not usually speel out a morale abandonment, but their attempt to be individuals and to be a part of different age, gender, or social groups.
One thing that I found helpful through the years was to ask questions whenever any of my children entertained morales or ideas that conflicted with our family values or convictions. There are definitely several issues that are serious enough to invoke appropriate opposition. However, if it does not conflict with your moral standards, try not to directly oppose or dismiss your child’s opinion, inquiry, or comments. Instead, take the time to grow a closer and stronger relationship with your kids by listening to them. By doing so, you validate their worth to you, therefore establish more trust, and open them up to a different point of view.
On the other hand, as their dad, you are supposed to be a rock. There are some ideas, actions, policies, or lifestyles that you view as unhealthy or wrong. Remember that your main task is to be their dad, not their friend. There are some things that you should not compromise or even entertain. If you meet with resistance on these issues, you should affirm your love for your children, but state an immovable opposition on their behalf. This can be difficult to implement, especially if you and your spouse are not on the same page.
Given that the information is debatable, find a time to discuss the issue. For example, your kids may develop odd tastes in music or a political view than what is accustom to the home. Calling your children wrong, weird, or stupid doe not help the matter. To be perfectly honest it can have a reverse effect. Many times, saying something is wrong or stupid is interpreted as you saying that they are stupid, dumb, etc. Do your best to separate their ideas or information from them as someone that you love very much and care about. Dads can have a really bad habit of dismissing a child or labeling them as simply right or wrong. Above all, your love and commitment to them should shine through. When that is established, productive conversations can take place, thereby encouraging your relationship as a priority and giving their individualism a dose of respect.
One particular question that I ask my kids is where they learned a particular source of information. Then, like a book, I tell them to examine the author of the information. For example, right now I am reading the book, Who Rules the World by Noam Chomsky. This author has opinions and claims against people that I have respected all my life like Ronald Reagan. What do I do with this information? I have always viewed Reagan as one of the best presidents that our country ever had. Chomsky views him as a monster. When I came across this information, I paused and did some research on the author. Ah-Ha! When I came to understand his background and his many political ventures, I was able to process his information with a better view of his mindset.
Discussing and dissecting ideas, statements, movements, and agendas can be a great learning experience for you and your kids. They need to know that you are willing to listen to them, not because of their idea or statement, but because of how much you value them. Then you can address things together in a way that can strengthen your relationship. Your kids are individuals, not your mini-me. They are going to develop their own ideas, likes, and dislikes. You just need to show them how to process information. You need to be the best dad possible.