Recently I was involved in an online discussion about an educational book disseminated amongst teenagers. Many parents in the discussion felt the book has harmful ideas in it. Some parents remarked that they were going to take black sharpies to whatever they disagreed with. For some reason this didn’t sit will well me and I had to process it. It’s not that I disagreed that this particular material had ideas in it with which I disagreed. It certainly does. But I’m bothered by the fact of editing materials so that my child is never exposed to an idea I disagree with.
The thing is, I believe my job as a parent is to allow my children to become themselves. That means thinking for themselves, making decisions for themselves, etc. with guidance and input from me and their father. I don’t want to raise grown-up robots who only parrot their parents’s beliefs, ideas, ideologies.
The thing is, I believe my job as a parent is to teach my children HOW to think, not WHAT to think.
Of course there are beliefs and values of mine that I would like my children to adopt. And when my particular child reads this material, I want to process it with her and help her determine what she thinks about it. If it’s different than my own opinions, then I will have to acknowledge that I’ve done my job in teaching her to think for herself. I don’t ever want any of my children to think that if they don’t adopt my religious beliefs, cultural beliefs, political beliefs, world view, values, and ethics that they cease being my child.
Teach them how to think means being able to critically examine what is presented to them and evaluate it on it’s own merits and not just blindly accept or reject what is presented.
My parents allowed me the freedom to become who I am and examine and re-examine and process my beliefs, which I admit are continually evolving. And I want to allow my children the same freedom.