How using logic can help your kids

18 Sep

What do you do at dinner time?

I have taught  school for 21 years.  What saddens me the most among all socio-economic levels of students is the growing tendency of family members to each supper separately.   Parents do not realize the impact of regular meals enjoyed ‘en famille’ .

I am the mom of two grown sons.  My husband and I made lots of mistakes as parents (we never attended the ‘Parent Academy’ nor did I read parenting books – they made me feel too guilty!) But one practice I now realize that we did well, was our commitment to sharing one communal meal daily.

Sure we had our battles over vegetables and table manners, but those were secondary to our goal of conversation.  Our boys are blessed to have a dad who is interested in everything.   Our discussions lasted longer than the food on our plates.  We would talk about what was going on in their classrooms, in the world, at church, with their friends.   Music, movies and books were also frequent topics.

Our family is VERY opinionated, so the boys grew up listening to their dad’s views and practicing the skill of articulating and defending their own views.

Input is important. Children need to have modeled for them HOW to discuss intelligently.  But equally useful  is the day-after-day practice in getting words out of one’s head and into the mix.

When Oldest Son left for college and the family dynamic changed, second son was 12 years old.  We quickly realized that he had not been able to get a word in edgewise due to Dad & Older Son’s conversations. .  It took him a LONG time to grow fluent in explaining and defending his views.

Here is my point – meal time is a training ground.  It doesn’t have to be the dinner hour, maybe the one meal a family can guarantee that all are present is breakfast.  What’s important is that there is leisurely time to eat and discuss.  

I teach French so I am aware of some cultural differences.  Europeans in general spend more time over meals.  They talk.  A lot!  In fact, when one of our sons attended a French language course one summer, he related how political the other teens were.  When they were hanging out at the beach together, a revisited topic was often European politics.  How typical is that in the US?   Do you think these European 16 yr olds just naturally gravitate toward politics and world events?  No, they were trained in the home at at the café!    

So, how does logic play into this?  Easy.  When you have face -to -face time with your children, (i.e. meal time)  ask them what they thought about:

  • A  recent movie ending
  • How a teacher handled a difficulty in class that day
  • A local event or world problem
  • What they heard in church
  • A disputed call in a game by a referee

Possible topics are endless.  Here is how to get them to begin to apply logic.

  1. you can ask them what they mean by a term – that will get them to think ” What do you mean by ‘ unfair’ ?”
  2. you can ask them their reasons for what they think – ” How did you arrive at your conclusion?”

You can frame something by making it conditional – “ What do you think would happen if……”

You have many more potential hours with your kids, to influence them FOR the good.  If you don’t train them to think, then they are likely to just react or go along with a peer suggestion when they get on their own.  Now  THAT’s a scary thought!  

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