- Dawn Spragg
Parenting Pause #2- Sharing Opinions
Parenting teenagers can be very challenging. They are no longer children and not yet adults. Sometimes we just have to stop, take a deep breath, and think things through before we interact. Let's pause and talk about using caution when sharing opinions.
Teenagers have opinions- I know, right?
As parents, we can be frustrated when these opinions are not our own, particularly when they appear wrong to us, or when our teenagers insist upon them as fact. But if we expect our children to have the same opinions as we do, or insult them by calling their ideas stupid or ridiculous, this may keep them from sharing their thoughts with us in the future, and we lose the possibility of forming a deeper connection with them.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion, even teenagers. About style, politics, religion, career and life choices. This is an important part of the process of maturity. It is an expression of autonomy and it enables a deeper understanding of personal tastes and character.
Positive parenting begins with how we share our opinions. Technology allows for a steady - and I do mean steady- flow of opinions. It is becoming increasingly difficult to sort through truths and untruths. If we present our own opinion as facts, then we may be teaching our teenagers to do the same. Instead, be careful to distinguish between fact and opinion with your children, so that they may learn to be similarly discerning. Green hair may seem ridiculous to you, but remember that is only an opinion. Classic rock-n-roll may be out of date to your teenager, but that, too, is an opinion.
Being courteous of your child's opinions can also go a long way toward teaching mutual respect and empathy. We should always be aware of our audience when we are speaking and the possible effects of what we are saying on the listeners. As parents, we can reinforce this message by reminding our teenagers that although they are entitled to believe as they wish, words can be hurtful, and they should therefore use caution when sharing their ideas.
Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge… is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.
And don’t forget, opinions change over time. I thought high top sneakers and leg warmers were the bomb when I was 17 years old but I promise you I would not be caught wearing those to the gym for my workout now. Not that those are wrong for everyone, but they don't fit with my current style!
Be positive and be present. We all need that!
Comments welcome~ Dawn