Lessons from The Northshire Presentation

by michael on November 8, 2010


I gave a presentation at the Northshre Bookstore on October 28. www.northshire.com  One should always learn something after giving a presentation. I am no exception. I am gaining clarity on what appeals to participants most fundamentally. The audience at The Northshire impressed me as engaged and inquisitive. I conclude that because of the questions and comments made after my talk.  I share some of the highlights of the evening’s questions and comments.

What seemed most impacting was my recommendation, when discussing any topic, to tell a child, “Let’s think this through.” It seems so simple and direct, yet several moms and dads found that sentence, that approach, most illuminating and instructive. Telling a child to ‘think things through” illustrates the parent’s values. It shows respect for facts; it shows that consequences have values. It shows that some consequences are more desirable than other consequences. It show, most of all, respect for the child’s integrity as a thinker.

Asking a child to ‘think things through’ shows that reasoning is valued—not only reasoning generally, but moral reasoning specifically. It also shows that the parent is willing to invest time in the child. The parent is telling the child the answer. The parent is pushing the child along. The parent isn’t dismissing the child’s initial response.

Another goal, a very vital goal, is also achieved by this kind of interaction. A child not only wants to know that a parent is in charge. A child wants to know that the parent DESERVES to be in charge. This type of moral reasoning enhances the parent’s credibility and ethos. This moral reasoning exercise enhances the parent’s character.

Teaching a child to think things through allows reason to triumph over emotion and knee-jerk superficial analysis. It is an important skill.

Another point that had a profound impact on the audience was the suggestion to ask a child, regarding any topic under discussion, “What’s your opinion?” Again, this seems like a trivial enterprise—so simple and basic, yet it is profound. Instead of a parent dictating an answer or a solution of a line of reasoning, asking the child’s opinion illustrates that the parent values the intellect of the child and that the parent is willing to nurture the child’s thinking. The parent will not, of course, just leave the child’s opinion unexamined, as if it were an orphan. The parent will follow up with “Why is that your opinion?”

In this way, the parent can guide the child to examine values, articulate values and compare the relative worth of values. This process is an effective learning tool.

More later.


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Ginny Saul November 8, 2010 at 3:47 pm

I agree with helping the child to realize what their values are, and walking them through the consequences of their decisions. It is definitely a lifelong lesson, and it has worked well for our family as well. In reality, we have a dictatorship, but we don’t allow the children to know it. It has worked well for us, since they have to think thinks through and come up with the answers themselves. We were never far away to guide them through the process, until the time came when they were fully able to realize all the consequences, and avenues available for each decsion. They learned the best way to acoomplish their goals, reason what they were willing to tolerate from others, and how to go about changing the direction of their plans. Although we are still not far away, the final decsions now are in their hands, and I think by helping them through the process has proved quite helpful for them to choose wisely as they have entered adulthood, and now our dictatorship has turned into a supportive listening ear. Praise God we are blessed to haev children that have learned to choose so wisely.


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