The Norman Transcript

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February 22, 2013

Children will think for themselves

NORMAN — Someone recently told me she wanted her children to “think for themselves.” Not me, I said. If I was still in my active parenting years, I would most definitely want my children to think like I do. That would be, in fact, my primary purpose. I would want them to accept that my values are the right values to hold and I’d want them to eventually make every effort to pass those values on to their children. But then, I don’t subscribe to the postmodern notion that all values are equal. I’m not a relativist.

But even in the case of a person who doesn’t think like I do and (therefore) doesn’t hold the values I hold, wouldn’t that person still want their children to think like they do? Wouldn’t a person who believes all values are equal, that right and wrong are relative concepts, want their kids to believe likewise? It’s called a worldview, and there’s really little point in investing eighteen or more years of time, effort, and money in raising a child if one is not trying to produce someone who will subscribe to a certain, defined worldview and (therefore) champion certain values.

How do you pass your values onto your children? From the earliest possible time in their lives, you talk about your values and you explain how they comprise your code for living. Why do you donate the one hundred dollar bill you found blowing in the wind to the local homeless shelter? Why don’t you allow your children to watch certain movies and television shows? You explain to your children that your definitions of right and wrong, your decisions, and your opinions about various matters are based on certain core principles. Your ability to articulate those principles clearly enough that a 5-year-old can understand them reflects that you are clear on them yourself. And you not only talk about your values, but you walk your talk. There’s no room for “Do as I say, not as I do” in an ethical worldview.

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