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Teach Children to Think

Updated on June 14, 2020
Akin Akinbodunse profile image

Father of three girls 20, 18, and 17. Been married for the last 22 years. A regular contributor to several Parenting Social Media sites.

Thinking is Still Legal...

It is still very legal to think. That privilege knows no age limit. In fact, it is the one single distinguishing factor that marks us out as human, differentiating us from mere animals. As Archibald MacLeish so famously said, 'The only thing about a man that is a man . . . is his mind. Everything else you can find in a pig or a horse."

If this be true, and it is, it behooves us as parents to help our children develop their "thinking ability." Said another way, it behooves us to help our children become human. That is, grow to full-blown adults, well equipped for the task of living life victoriously. This is made even more important because there are factors in our environment that do not want this. Enemies are wanting to hold them captive.

Parenting and Mentoring
Parenting and Mentoring

The Battleground...

In today's world, we are surrounded by several mind conditioning and programming systems and devices, each seeking to deprive us of our humanness. And, it is not getting any easier. These are increasing every day in sphere and intensity, as more intense researches are done in this field. That is the world we are supposed to prepare our children. The real world, not some fantasy mummy and daddy sheltered camp.

Even mummy and daddy are struggling to win in this mind game. Howbeit we need to prepare our children to win and not fall flat on their faces. Every day they are being inundated with advertisements (direct and subliminal), peer pressures, and various other influences. They need to be able to navigate their way through all of these successfully.

Their natural, God-given, defense, and offense in this warfare is their ability to think for themselves. It is not the ability of mummy and daddy to think for them, but their own ability to think for themselves. Mummy and daddy's help is probably good up to age 5-7 years. After that, they need to begin to take full rein on their own.

Cheerleader and Coach...

Our place as parents is to come along with them, as cheerleaders and coaches, to help them grow this ability, not stay aloof, or be their enemy. The battle of life is won or lost in the mind. That we know and is uncontestable. Whose mind do you suppose we are referring to? You got it. Theirs, not ours. We each need to win the battles of our own individual life in our own minds. The same applies to our children also.

The way to get our children ready for the game of life is to teach them to think for themselves. It is to help them to think for themselves. It is to encourage them to think for themselves. This might not make sense to some people who are lost in the way they were brought up. It does not change the facts on the ground. Your survival by "the skin of your teeth" is no credence to the process.

Moreso, it is a different world out there today. And, it will only be tougher tomorrow. It's not making sense does not suspend its penalties.

Teach Me to Think
Teach Me to Think

The Life Continuum...

Parenting is the act of gradually releasing the child to his/her own destiny by teaching him/her how to think. At the beginning of parenting, we make all the decisions for our children. As they grow we need to gradually release this responsibility to them. It is part of the requirement for their growth.

They are not meant to be babies all their life. We need to learn to trust and allow them to make their own mistakes while they are still under our roof. We need to let them know it is safe to make mistakes and learn from them. They need to understand failure is part and parcel of the process of success. They are part and parcel of the same package and not strange bedfellows.

I love the way, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones outs it. He said, "If a philosophy of life cannot help me to die, then in a sense it cannot help me to live." We should help our children die to self and every other thing they need to die to, so they can truly be alive to the things they need to be alive to. It is teaching them the "yin-yang" of life. That is only possible if they are taught how to think for themselves.

We need to let them know they will always find safe refuge with and in us IRRESPECTIVE OF THE MISTAKE they might make. That is not to say life will free them from the recompense, but you’ll always be there to go the distance with them. It is up to us not to lose our children.

The spectrum of our relationship with our children, naturally, is expected to be divided into two main parts and runs parallel to the continuum of life (dependence - independence - interdependence) itself.

The first part is known and called "parenting." Isn't that rather obvious? It starts from conception at 100% and reduces as the years are counting. This is when we are most needed and require the greatest investment of time and attention.

As the years are counting, our children seek, and we MUST grant them independence. When we struggle with this conflict naturally erupts. We think our children are rebelling, but they are simply answering the call of nature. They are simply answering the call of evolution. They are simply answering the call of survival. They are simply answering the call of life. We are the misfit, if and when we do not understand this.

Becoming Independent
Becoming Independent

Be the Adult...

Sydney J. Harris, the British American Journalist, and writer expounded this so very well. He wrote, "And most of the failures in parent-child relationships, from my observation, begin when the child begins to acquire a mind and a will of its own, to make independent decisions, and to question the omnipotence or the wisdom of the parent."

This failure occurs when the parent(s) refuse to freely yield freedom to the child. They assume the child will always be a child. As it were, they take the child and his/her wisdom for granted. Only yesterday morning, I was sharing with a colleague who only just found out how much wisdom is resident in his son. He had punished him thinking he had no good reason for doing what he had done.

On engaging his son he was surprised by how much sense and wisdom was in his son’s reasoning. That opened his eyes to the need to engage his son more and not assume his innocence. Our children know much more than we give them credit for. Don’t be deceived by the innocence on their faces. Engage them. Yes, they might not have the wisdom to fully put it all together. That they are still growing at.

They are testing the waters. They are looking for assurance. They are looking for affirmation. Will they find it in and with you, or they have to go out for it? Engage your child, lest someone else engages them, and lead them where they ought not to go. Be a parent. Talk with your children. They want to talk to you. They want you to trust them. They want you to affirm them. They want you to assure them it will all be all right.

A wise parent will begin to fall behind and start doing more of coaching and guidance, rather than outright commandeering. Your child is only asking questions. Your child is only seeking clarity. Your child is only trying to decipher those on his/her team and those on the opposing team. Are you on your child's team? Does she/he know? Or, are you in the opposing team?

Your child will rather talk to you than anyone else. They love you. Blood is sure thicker than water. They have a natural affinity towards home unless you break it. They want to hear from you. Don’t be put away by all the forming, and acting. It is all a performance. The hormones might be raging, it does not change the fact they are still children at heart.

Can you connect with the child in them, Their heart is yearning for you. You cannot engage with them at the same level. It is your duty as a parent to find a way through all the formings and actings. Don't forget you are an adult. Be the adult you are. You must engage. You must connect. They will forever bless you if you do.

Cost of Failure...

If we fail at this task, there are two possible outcomes for our children They can either become Lazy Thinkers or Rebellious Thinkers. Who are Lazy Thinkers? A lazy thinker, according to Quora, is "one who stays in a job or marriage or other situation that does not make them happy, without any attempt to change the situation or imagine a better life."

This one, who daydreams but never makes the effort to make those dreams come true Guess how Lazy Thinkers evolve? You are right. Their parents never gave them latitude to evolve as human beings. So, they due to lack of exercise evolved as subhuman.

These fulfill Sydney J. Harris' fears. He had said, "The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers."

Who is the Rebellious Thinker? Children who grow to be Rebellious Thinkers are on the other end of the spectrum from Lazy Thinkers. They want to try everything out, especially the ones their parents held them back from.

© 2020 Akin Akinbodunse


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