Teaching Children to Question Authority

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by China Cat Sunflower, Feb 20, 2011.

  1. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    I've put a great deal of thought into every aspect of what I do as a parent. There's nothing accidental about any of it. I wanted children, and I waited until I felt that I had the resources, time, energy, and intellectual and emotional maturity to raise them properly. I carefully nurtured them and thoughtfully constructed the program that gave them their routine, boundaries, stability, and security. I listen to them, I carefully observe their thought processes, and I constantly look for ways to enrich their lives and help them develop into confident, smart,empathetic young people. I offer them the same respect and empathy that I expect them to show me and everyone else in their lives. They are not just objects to to be shuttled about and controlled. They're not pets. They don't exist for the amusement of adults. They have minds of their own and they deserve straight answers to their questions. They deserve a sense of control and sovereignty over their own lives and bodies. This is where self respect comes from. From self respect comes kindness, generosity, and respect for others. From a sense of self ownership comes responsibility, maturity, critical thinking, and the ability to make smart decisions. These are core values.

    I hear a lot of crap child psychology from people who don't know what they're talking about. Parenting books are full of it too. Kids need to learn how to successfully cope with institutionalization. They need to learn how to get along and accomplish what's expected of them. This most often carries over into their working lives as adults. The family is an institution as well, and kids need to learn what's expected of them, and how to carry out their duties and responsibilities within the family structure. But..., and this is a big bertha sized butt (lol!), to develop critical thinking skills kids must be encouraged to develop their natural instinct to question absolutely everything. This is highly inconvenient for everyone in a power position. While it is most often inappropriate and self-detrimental to openly question the power structure while one is in a position of subservience, it is nonetheless vital to the development of critical thinking skills to hone the ability to discern what is crap and what isn't. This should start in childhood as a natural extension of curiosity, and the only place that can happen is in the home. It's certainly not going to happen at school where there is zero interest in the value of questioning authority. That's why I'm in favor of informational transparency within the family setting. It's not as though we should be encouraging disobedience. You still have to do what you're told. But there should always be an effort to explain WHY, even if the why is an admission that it's just to kowtow to the whims of the power structure. That's honest, and honesty is everything. If we don't give them an honest answer they will know, and they will find other sources for their answers.

    I think that it is absolutely vital, as a parent, to be in control of the information your child is getting. This can only be accomplished through absolute trust, and that trust has to be earned on a daily basis. To a child, TV culture is absolutely insidious, overwhelming, and alluring. It has automatic and unquestioned credibility. To successfully compete with that you have to have nurtured those critical thinking and questioning skills, and you have to have garnered absolute trust that you, not TV, not the internet, are the most reliable source of information. In order to reach that level of credibility with your child you have to have encouraged them to question not only culture, not only the institutional power structures, but your authority as well. You have to be able to withstand that test. That's the giant, paradoxical rub of the whole thing. So, "it's none of your business", or "because I said so" not only isn't good enough, but it's self-defeating to parental authority because it undermines credibility, and we can't afford to give up even a whiff of that.

    Chris
     
  2. greymare

    greymare New Member

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    You and me agree CC !!! I have tried over the years to do this, sometimes I have failed, other times I have a win!! Being a parent isnt easy, but its never boring thats for sure. Some times when explaining things to my boys, they would "pull me up" and say,,,,,, ok mum, too much information!!. But other times we could get into a real good debate. I say "good" because, I loved watching how their minds would work..Instead of frustrated tantrums, they thought their arguments out, and more often than not, when the "end" was reached, it was "reasonable". I have been guilty of the "because I said so".... and found myself frustrated at my lack of reasoning to back myself. LOL. After a while,(as they got older), their arguments were more convincing than my own!! Unless it was a drastic situation, (life or death), others found my parenting to be "soft". (in others minds, i let my children win). that wasnt the case at all, they DID win, I lost. And they knew (the boys) that if there was a difference in opinion, they had better present a darn good argument. My problem was a lack of consistency, sometimes I broke my own rules, and my ex was a "cos i said so" nazi!! Sometimes it was too hard to battle the boys and then explain my "weakeness" to the ex. but it seems like the boys did ok. (funny tho, when the boys would argue amoungst themselves, it would be sorted with one liners, or fists!!)
     
  3. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Absolutely agree. :)
     
  4. MJG

    MJG New Member

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    I agree so much. This:
    was what my parents, for the large part, attempted, and I feel it worked for me. When they gave me the information that lead them to hold the opinions they did instead of just trying to force their opinions on me, I respected them and often reached prudent conclusions myself.

    Furthermore, my dad especially had the awareness to respect that sometimes the same information that caused him to form one opinion would cause me to for a different one--sometimes dramatically so. In these cases, he'd let me know he disagreed with me, but as long as my resulting actions weren't an immediate threat to my well-being (and I know this is a nebulous ground), he would respect my choices.

    Empowering kids to make informed choices rather then trying to manipulate their choices is, in my opinion, a trait of an effective parent. Call me biased. :)
     
  5. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Good stuff. How do you teach a child to question authority? By example....as usual. Same way you teach them manners, respect, language usage, how to deal with people etc.

    When I am out looking at cars, I take my kids. So they can see and understand the whole negotiation, preparation, etc. The best part is their involvement. They were maybe 4th or 5th grade, I was looking for a minivan (waste of time when I was alone, but for scouts, soccer camping, hauling friends, quite valuable) As we shopped from place to place the salesman would come up and tout this vehicle or that, and tell us about the tech stuff, my kids would reply. "Nope, you gotta show my Dad cars without DVD players, he won't have one in the car."

    As indicated with TV, I've caught a lot of grief for this, but the worst thing for kids in cars is DVD players, game players and IPODs... The best thing a parent can have on a drive state to state is a captive audience, you can talk about anything and they can't go anywhere. They have to look out the window and comment about the country side and the people, we sing songs, play mind games, the alphabet games, see how many state license plates we can find, figure out vanity plates....for thousands of miles...

    I do get books on tape from the Library...Louis Lamore, Business training, Old time radio... they all spark conversation, encourage imagination and create lively discussion. After imposing questions about sex, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, school, friends etc...they'll beg to listen to anything ....

    love a captive audience.
     
  6. DrumR

    DrumR New Member

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    Greets All.

    There is something drastically wrong with this thread.

    For those of the posters who have not quite noticed this, i would point out that there appears to be all too much agreement - as if it were a meeting of a mutually congratulatory society. Such carrying s on, while it may be seen as a worth while end to be achieved within the context of an interfaith forum, may be seen to be at odds with portions of the OP relating to the questioning of authority, critical thinking skills, overall control of information, manipulation of choices, and other such traits as may be desirable by some.

    Whereupon I offer another cup of tea.
     
  7. MJG

    MJG New Member

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    X-D Lol! Nice observation, DrumR. :)
     
  8. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Okee dokee... It appears I've succeeded! My boy was in for his Eagle Board today. He's finished all the requirements to be an Eagle Scout, last requirement, go thru the board. A councilman, a lawyer, our Commission Chair, someone from the District, someone from Council and some others did the interview.

    "How did you do"

    "I think I did well, except for one question."

    "What was that?"

    "They asked if I could get rid of any point in the Scout Law, what would it be, I said 'Reverent', and I think they thought I was an atheist?"

    "Are you?"

    "No, I sent them an email that said if there was any confusion I'm not an atheist, but just think that every boy should have the opportunity to join scouts and benefit from scouts and requiring them to believe in G!d shouldn't be there."

    Now he isn't finished yet. They write up their notes and recommendations and send them to the national office. The national office has to approve his rank, if they deny he has an appeal right. Should be interesting.
     
  9. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    There is a big difference between questioning authoity and being insubordinate. It's important to make this distinction to children, and let them know one is okay and the other is not. (Many people have no idea what the difference is, even adults.)
     
  10. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    How would you define the differences?

    For me I am subordinate to things I choose to be subordinate to. ie, if I decide to live in this land there are laws which I must abide by. Or if I sign up for the military there are orders I must follow. Or if I become a member of some religion there are things that are expected of me.

    But your Bishop, or his Captain, or France's anti veil law....none of what they have to say applies to me, I cannot be insubordinate to them, because they have no authority over me.

    I have to give them authority prior to being subordinate.

    But that being said....If I question authority, and do not agree with their answer, and do not find the normal avenue of response is suitable....insubordination here I come.
     
  11. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    Here is one way to define the difference Wil.

    I expect my employees to question something that doesn't sit right with them. I do not expect them to try and usurp my authority if it doesn't, there are appropriate channels with which to express dissatisfaction or disagreement.

    Any leader who doesn't leave recourse for the address of grievances isn't worth following.
     
  12. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    I also want to know more about insubordination.
    I would always encourage people to act according to their heart and mind, as long as they take responsibility for their actions and the consequences.
    I understand that this is a individuality vs. group problem and people will always have different opinions on where to draw the line.
    But I would like to hear your definitions before I say more.
     

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