Are you raising your children to have your beliefs or strong beliefs? Seems like a simple question but, the more you consider it and think about it, the more complicated it becomes. As parents, we tend to think we should make all the decisions for our children and almost entirely control their world, beliefs, and opinions. However, that may not be effective for raising independent children. Ask yourself does that really make your child as mentally strong as they could be? Does it teach them to learn and grow? In reality, it may hamper their ability to form thoughts and ideas and decisions on their own. Children need to be allowed to see the world through their own eyes and think for themselves.
Why And How To Help Kids Think For Themselves
Like it or not, we live in a time when children are exposed to the world in multiple ways, every day. Technology allows then to experience the world in ways that were simply not possible when we were kids. They can learn about different cultures, viewpoints, and beliefs with amazing ease. And some of the things they learn may not be things that you ever considered or experienced – or agree with. And that’s ok.
Of course we should share our family values and protect them and shield them from danger and bad influences but we should not make them blind to all the wonders of the world. We should not discourage them from learning about ideals (and ideas) that are unique and outside of their normal way of thinking. We should not teach them that there is only one “right” way to live, and thrive, and be happy.
Allow Children Room Share Their Thoughts
Each generation has different experiences in their lives and those experiences are what shape and mold our futures. I am different than my parents were and my son will probably have a lot of different thoughts than I have. It’s not wrong – it’s simply different. That is something you have to accept when you are raising independent children with strong beliefs. By allowing them some room for their own strong beliefs, you are encouraging them to think for themselves and building their confidence at the same time.
Think of it like music or food or clothing. Your kids are not going to gravitate toward classic rock or 90s hip hop the same way you didn’t gravitate toward the music of your parents. I respect Tom Jones but I was never going to have the screaming passion for him that my mother had!
Food wise, my mom made absolutely horrible salmon patties for dinner each and every week and to this day, I will not touch salmon! It doesn’t show disrespect to my mother, it simply shows that I have different tastes. I love a great cheeseburger but my son, he could care less about the All-American Classic. Oh well!
My father smoked like a chimney for more than 40 years and unfortunately, lung cancer took his life very early because of that vile habit. I however formed my own opinion and I am vehemently anti-smoking. Which is obviously a much better life choice than my dad made. An opinion that was different – and better.
Let Kids Have Individual Beliefs
Religion, politics, life styles, personal liberties and freedoms. These are all very individual beliefs and opinions and they will form with your children over time, based on a number of different factors, no matter what you do or say. You may want to control them but, let’s be honest, you never fully will and raising independent children that are confident in their thought processes is more important.
So maybe, just maybe, a better plan would be to raising independent children with intelligence, morals, a great sense of right and wrong, a strong dose of integrity, and a lot of empathy and compassion. Teach them that being unique and being strong in their thoughts is perfectly acceptable… as long as they respect the thoughts and lives of others.
Personally, I don’t want my son to be a carbon copy of me. I want him to be better than me. I want him to be his own man. Proud, smart, respectful, and independent. I want him to form his own beliefs and not just take mine – even if we disagree.
Rob Youngblood is a Single Dad, Life and Communication Expert, Keynote and Leadership Speaker, Emmy Award Winning TV Host, Writer, and Storyteller. Follow him on Twitter.