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#216 Why Encouraging Your Kids to 'Talk Back' Develops Critical Thinking & Decision Making Skills

March 28, 2023

#216 Why Encouraging Your Kids to 'Talk Back' Develops Critical Thinking & Decision Making Skills
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In this episode, it seems as though we start talking about one subject and end with another. Yet, they are connected.

We begin discussing how to deal with children who are ‘high spirited’ with minds of their own (which can sometimes be aggravating or embarrassing) and who grow up feeling ‘not good enough’ or as though there’s something wrong with them because of the constant correction they receive.

We also mention the ‘quiet’, ‘good’ kidsthat ‘go along to get along’ but who internally might be (unconsciously) building resentment to the arbitrary rules and restrictions of their parents (which often leads to some sort of rebellion or rejection of values when they become adults).

Both types of kids struggle because of the (often arbitrary) rules their parents and/or society have for them. Out of the best intentions, parents create rules for their family life so that children can be safe, they can have high standards and values, and some sort of order and control can be maintained. The rules are often communicated in a black-and-white way — we never eat in the living room, we never stand on the table, we never listen to pop music, we never swear, we never stay out past midnight, we never watch rated R movies, we never lie, etc. 

But the reality is, this black-and-white approach has long-term detrimental consequences for your relationship with your child, their critical thinking skills, and their ability to make decisions. That’s because life is rarely black and white. There are variables, nuances, and levels to all parts of our reality.

We end the episode by expounding on how allowing your children to ‘talk back’ and to argue/debate with you in an effort to persuade you to their point of view is a GOOD thing. Your rules are NOT black and white and kids (as well as parents) often intuitively feel this, they just can’t articulate it.

This is where ‘parenting relativism’ is required. And while that sounds bad or dangerous to some, it is actually an effective approach that helps us help our children to navigate the complexities of the world around us and life in general.

At the outset, the approach we outline in this episode seems like more work and thought, and effort on your part. But in the long run — done well — it creates WAY better results because this parenting process develops the ability to think critically, to strategically analyze, to effectively make decisions, and to confront moral dilemmas. As a bonus, it increases the trust and respect your children have for you as their parents and creates stronger life-long relationships.

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