Teach them to Think

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.

free to think

Moms

Moms. We all have one. I mean, every single one of us grew inside of a woman until she gave birth to us. Whether that woman raised you or not, it doesn’t change the fact that giving you life makes her your mother. Whether that woman is still in your life, or you have a difficult relationship with her, or she has died, or she abandoned you, or you were given to another woman to raise…we all have a Mom.

The past six months I’ve been thinking about my own Mom a lot. I’ve been doing the grief cycle all over again since the birth of my baby. There’s something about giving birth to a new life, nurturing and caring for that new life, that makes you think about the woman who did that for you. I wonder how my Mom would react to this new little one. She delighted in being a grandma. She would come over after a stressful day at work and rock and hold my babies and call it her “baby therapy.” I wish she were sitting on my couch right now making goo goo faces at my little girl and kissing on her and bonding with her.

I had a great Mom. No, she wasn’t perfect. She made mistakes. She probably could have used some therapy to help her deal with some of her past issues. But I can honestly say she did the best she could with the knowledge and skills she had to be the best Mom she could. She did what was in her capacity to do. I know she loved me unconditionally. She supported me in my goals. She was happy for my happiness. She loved my husband and children. And I would sell everything I own to have her back in my life. (That is the bargaining part of the grief cycle).

I took my mother for granted when she was alive. I thought she would always be there. Or at least I believed she would be here until she was elderly and then it was my turn to take care of her.  I thought I had endless chances for discussions, or to work out problems, or to heal things that were broken between us, or to tell her how much I love her and how thankful I am for all the things she’s done for me. But those chances ran out quicker than I ever thought they were.

If you had a mom who cried tears of joy when she learned you were coming into this world, you are blessed. If you had a mom who marks your day of birth as one of the happiest in her life, you are blessed. If you had a mom who had many sleepless nights because of you and would be happy to do it over again, you are blessed. If you had a mom who taught you how to read, how to ride a bike, how to cook, how to become self-sufficient in some way, you are blessed. If you had a mom who kissed your booboos when you fell off that bike or cried with you the first time you had your heart broken, you are blessed. If you had a mom who taught you through her words and example how to be kind, how to serve others, how to be considerate, to say “please” and “thank you,” and how to have good manners, you are blessed. If you had a mom who supported you through the most difficult times in your life and was always your champion, you are blessed. If you had a mom who took the time to talk with you, get to know you , spend time with you, and always concerned about your welfare, you are blessed. If you have a mom who cheered your achievements on at graduation day or the job you always wanted, you are blessed. If you have a mom who has made some mistakes but has always, always tried to be a good mother to you, you are blessed. If you have a mom who never has rejected you, you are blessed. If you have a mom who gets on her knees at night and prays for you, you are blessed. If you have a mom who would move heaven and earth to be with you, you are blessed.

If you have a mom like this above, please, for my sake, don’t take her for granted. Pick up the phone and tell how much you love her. Do it for me because I can’t. The truth is your mom could be gone tomorrow. Nothing in this life is guaranteed. The last thing you want to do is grieve your mother knowing that things were left unsaid or you have huge regrets. I lost my mother and there was nothing left unsaid between us. I have no regrets about our relationship. She died knowing that I loved her as much as any daughter could love a mother. And still sometimes the pain from losing her is so palpable my heart skips a beat and I am short of breath. I can’t even imagine how much harder it would be to grieve her if I had regrets.

Moms. We all have one. If you still have one, you’re blessed.

Momaquery on Criticism vs. Cruelty

I really liked this article on Momastery. It discusses the differences between a blog comment that is constructive criticism versus being cruel. This is the reason I do not publish personal attacks. A personal attack is not a criticism.

This is my favorite part:

But I am worried about the next generation of truth-telling sisters who see all the internet cruelty and wonder if truth telling is worth the risk. Anne Lamott once said that the great thing about being a writer is that “they can’t boo you right away.” This was important to her because writers have to make themselves so incredibly vulnerable.  It seems crucial to have a buffer between the writer’s offering to the world and the world’s response to that offering. But it’s different now. In the internet generation, our writers are getting booed right away and that changes some things. It really does. Writers tend to be sensitive souls and many of us can’t withstand the barrage of negativity and anonymous pot shots and judgement. So some of us decide to stay quiet. And in turn, the rest of us miss out on hearing some really important, precious, life-giving voices. I know this for a fact, because I know many writers who’ve decided to lay low, to stay out of the internet fray by keeping their writing private. I know brilliant women from whom you need to hear but they can’t stand the idea of laying themselves and their families on the internet chopping block. And I get it.

You can read the rest of the article on the link I posted. Thank you to my sister for pointing it out.