I’ve noticed of late the popularity of “dear son” or “dear daughter” blog posts. But often times these letters to future generations limit the conversation to a single issue: gender. As exemplified by their address to just a son or daughter, and not a child in general. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I can (and love to) talk about gender issues till I’m blue in the face. But I hope that gender is not the only thing we want to teach our kids about.
Where are all the “dear son/daughter” letters about the massacres in Syria, the destruction of our planet, the obesity epidemic, mounting xenophobia in first world countries, bullying on the playground, etc etc etc, ad nauseum, etc.
I could write countless blog posts about what I want my kids to think about each of the scenarios I listed above, and a million others too. But my desire is not to create mini-mes who repeat what I say about every detail of life.
My goal as a parent is not to teach my kids what to think. My goal is to teach them how to think.
I thank God for my parents. For the dinner table conversations that taught me how to think critically. For the adolescent arguments with my father who listened to my burgeoning understanding of the world and challenged me. I thank God that my parents wanted me to figure things out for myself. Even when it strayed from their understanding of the world. Even when the conversations were not easy, when they became emotional and tense.
I also thank God for my postmodern French education which taught me to be critical, to question and to wonder about the nature of truth. I’ve landed in a decidedly un-post modern place as an adult, believing in absolute truth. But I arrived there because I was taught to question everything.
Those years in French lycee also taught me to view current events not as spontaneously occurring episodes in human existence but to search for the context, the history – the factors and players leading up to whatever is currently monopolizing the airwaves.
And I thank God for my training as a journalist that taught me to test sources for accuracy and reliability. To never take facts and information at face value but to wonder about how they are presented, why they are presented and above all, WHERE THEY COME FROM.
I have beliefs, values and convictions that I will, whether I try to or not, pass onto my kids. I hope to exemplify them through the way I live and have lively debates about them with my kids. But I would rather they thoughtfully disagree with me than thoughtlessly agree.
Dedicated to my conservative, right-y, justice loving, compassionate father. From your socialist, left-y daughter, who you taught about love.
And to my son. I know I will learn a lot from our future discussions.