Raise Kids as Independent and Logical Thinkers

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“Mamma, are Muslims bad?”

“Why? Why are you asking me this question? Who told you all this nonsense?”

“So-and-so told me that her mother has told her not to talk to this particular boy in our class because he is a Muslim and they are not good. She has also asked him not to share food that the boy offers.”

“What do you think? Is that boy in your class bad? Does he harm you or anyone else in the class?”

“No. He is a good boy. Ma’am also likes him. He is a polite boy. He like to play with everyone.”

“What does that tell you? Is he good or bad?”

“He is a good boy.”

“Exactly. You already know what is right and wrong. I have also told you that your right may not be right for others. So don’t judge anyone by what you have heard from someone else. Try and learn to answer that question yourself based on your interaction with the person and what you know about that person. Nobody is perfect. We all have flaws. We all make mistakes. That does not mean that we are all perfectly right or perfectly wrong. Do you get this?”

“Yes. I understood.”

“Will you play with him? Will you share your things with him if he needs them?”

“Yes. I will.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This was a conversation I had with my EIGHT-YEAR-OLD a few days ago. Ever since I have been thinking about it and feeling extremely annoyed about how a parent was misleading their child against another innocent child.

Why the hell do we have to drag young and innocent minds into this dirty mess of religion, region, politics, racism, caste and gender?

Why can’t we let them be themselves?

Why can’t we let them develop their own perceptions on different aspects of life?

Why do we have to brainwash them?

As a mother I do understand the fears and worries of another mother. I myself do warn the girls about impending dangers from strangers. I warn them to be careful with people they know as well as people they do not know. But I have never told them to boycott another child because he was a bully, or because she was dark, or because he was from a certain community, or because she was from a family that supported a certain political party. What are we doing? Is there an end to this?

I know it was a personal decision of that mother and may be of their family but it left me fuming because I don’t like children being involved in these petty matters. We complain of young minds being radicalized or being brainwashed. What was this? If we continue to drag them into these, why should we complain about others?

I don’t support any such nonsense. If we really want to protect our children, we must teach them love, kindness, sharing, compassion and being sensitive towards others. We must teach them not to hurt others. We must teach them to respect another’s feelings and their properties. We must teach them to not bully others. We must equip them with wisdom to make out good from bad and right from wrong. Encourage them to use their logic to reach conclusions based on their experiences instead of forcing your own experiences on them. How can you proudly tell your child that a certain boy in the class is not good because he is a Muslim while you encourage your child when he tells you how he managed to knock down another child in the school?

What are your views on this?

Do you think children should be taught to judge others in this manner?

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17 Replies to “Raise Kids as Independent and Logical Thinkers”

  1. Well I know exactly what you are saying but on the other hand if parents won’t tell the kids what is good or bad then who will.. 😀

    Catch 22 situation although the example you have given I am against it .. yes we should not influence kids like that..
    I remember my parents would always say to me that no matter who they talk to or not talk to .. I should be respectful towards everyone.

    1. “if parents won’t tell the kids what is good or bad then who will.. ”

      Agree with this. But how can we generalize? My people in Kerala burst crackers that killed hundreds. Does that make all Keralites irresponsible? Many in Punjab are drug addicts. Does that make all Punjabis drug addicts? I follow Hinduism by birth. I tried to reason with it. But somehow I still could not find it to be logical.

  2. I agree Rekha, teaching our children the right human values & respect from the start is so important. In today’s age when our children are exposed to so many views and opinions, having an open dialogue about everything under the sun (just like you do so often & write about) is all the more crucial.
    I guess, I too would have broached this topic just like you did.

    1. I really don’t know if it was the right manner to answer to her question. But I know for sure that I would not want her to grow up with this in her mind. I want her to experience the world independently and make her own inferences from each one. I believe that there are no rights or wrongs. What is right in this very moment does not hold good in the very next. Then why should we condition them to believe something that we have been conditioned to believe in. It’s always good to discuss as it gives you different perspectives of the same situation. May be some other parent would be able to provide a better way of explanation.

  3. I had a similar conversation with my son few days ago. It was about some India-Pakistan match. He asked me why it was such a big deal as Australia was the best team! Apparently his friends told him that Muslims had to lose to us.
    As far as I’m concerned, I always tell him to be respectful to everyone…no matter if they’re not very well-to-do, are from a different religion or have special needs or some disability. Being mean to someone for this shows how shallow we are. It doesn’t depict them in poor light in any wayn

  4. I agree with you, Rekha.
    Some days ago, my nephew came home with this thought that our neighbouring country should be hated for all the terrorists that inhabit the place. So, according to him “all Muslims are bad.” I corrected him instantly by telling him how one must not judge someone based on their religion. How each person is totally different from the other and how we must respect people from every religion, because every religion teaches us to love one another. I am hoping he got my message because now he is best friends with the very same boy he had planned on excluding from his friend circle.

  5. It’s horrifying to see parents instill such poison to harness hatred in children. It makes me personally sad to see such hatred and glad as a parent you explained in such a gentle way without enforcing your viewpoint. I have witnessed it in my own family where there is prejudice against Muslims and I don’t know what they achieve in doing such things. I have stopped arguing with toxic people for they can never change and let them burn into stupid hatred.

  6. Its disheartening to know the kind of values parents impart to children. Their minds are vulnerable and at a time when we need to mold them into thinking right, with compassion, and love, some kids are taught just the opposite. I agree we need to teach children to think and yes teach them to judge too. But in a more rational way not because of religion color caste or creed.

  7. This is very common, Rekha. Parents pass on their biases about colour, religion, language and culture to their kids. I’ve heard so many such stories from my children too. It is really sad as well. The world is getting more untrusting and cynical unfortunately.

  8. The questions you ask are very relevant in today’s society. We need to guide them during the early years of their childhood and then as they grow into adults let them makes their own choices, whatever it be they are comfortable in. I wonder why more and more people aren’t starting to think this way.

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