Teaching Kids to Argue?

Is it important for kids to know how to argue? When we default to the idea of kids arguing, we generally think of them misbehaving. I would, however, stress that there is a huge difference in making an argument and showing disrespect. Children need to know the power of debate and verbally striving for their goals, and what they feel is right? The question is, how could we, or why would we encourage them to argue their point. Please notice that I did not say encouraging them to be argumentative. If you are arguing a point, aren’t you being argumentative? I believe yes and no.

As parents, we don’t want a child challenging our authority on every issue or request. We want them to be obedient. Getting back to my double edge answer of yes and no, I believe that the word argumentative is associated with misbehavior. Arguing a point could be a completely positive and healthy mode of communication. We have to develop an understanding with our kids as well as laying a set of ground rules to develop this skill without losing control in our homes.

The foundation begins with knowing right from wrong. So, what is right and wrong? On what we call the big DOS and DON’TS, most of us would probably come to an agreed consensus. Do good. Don’t hurt. Show respect. Don’t lie…etc. Since these principles align with biblical teachings, many of us can and do refer to these rules for living as God’s rules. 

After the “biggies” which has to do with life, the secondary list of rules could be the rules of the home. What are some examples of these? Establishing a curfew, chores that must be performed, and restricted activities such as the use of electronics could serve as a start. Many of these house rules are handed down from generation to generation. Some of these rules have to do with the established character of the child as well as the conviction of the parent.

In my home, I would not put up for debate the idea of God’s laws or the “biggies”. However, if my children ever wanted to argue for an amendment to the home rules, they were allowed to do so if they did not break the big rules in doing so. Some dads may think it ridiculous to open up this hornet’s nest. Dad’s word is final. Well yes, I understand that. However, it is your job as a dad to assist your kids in all manners possible that will benefit their future. That being said, they don’t need to be puppets for in the world that they live. Their ideas and words are important. Especially, when it is for the rights of others, reaching healthy goals, and the benefit of the family.

As a dad, I encourage my kids to challenge ideas, requests, information, or attitudes that don’t promote a fair opportunity, Godly behavior, or honor the family. I have to be the first to admit that I don’t always get it right. Everyone needs to be held to a standard. The desire of my wife and me is that they would stand for these issues. 

Importantly, your kids need to understand that arguing a point, even if they are right can be viewed as disrespect by others. This is why it is so important to discuss ideas. Your kids need to know where you and your faith lies on a plethora of topics. They need to know that you will support them should they argue a point in school, community, or even a place of worship. 

In our society/community, there are those that will abuse power, deny fair opportunity, try to silence us, or violate standards that we believe in. They need to be heard. They need to be supported. This support and encouragement can take your relationship of trust with your kids to another level. However, MUST stand firm on your foundational rules and beliefs. NEVER compromise your principles to be popular with your kids. This will backfire on you in the long run.

Your kids need to show respect, be truthful, and seek truth in their discussions and debates. Making an argument for what is right needs to be viewed as a healthy and honorable action as long as it is done showing proper respect. There is nothing disrespectful to say that a hurtful action is wrong. Therefore, they need guidance as to how to fight for what is right and possibly show dissent.

Arguing is an art that takes time and a compass of morals to do properly. Help them to be independent and strong. It is important that you show them proper and improper examples of both. This can be done easily with today’s technology. Tell them what you will support. Show them what behaviors and actions that you will not support. Give them the tools needed to a strong representative of the values that you hold dear. Be the best dad possible.