Encouraging children to develop the ability to think for themselves

My family is from Gujarat. As you can imagine, my entire extended family is a staunch supporter of Prime Minister Modi. A few have become more circumspect recently but I will not get into that for now. Any voice that opposed anything Modi did or said in the past many years would be labelled 'pseudo-secularist', 'MIM', 'Rahul Gandhi fan' etc.

Parents would be so emphatic in their support that children would begin to believe that not supporting Modi, whether they genuinely liked the man or not, was a crime.

I tend to take contrarian viewpoints in any such debate. With a bunch of Modi supporters, I can be rabidly anti-Modi while I could put my family to shame in front of Modi-haters. During family debates, when I find fault with many things Modi did, I find some of my cousins beginning to speak up, even if just a little. It's as if, almost for the first time, their inner thoughts have a found a voice.

I put this down to the unintentional consequences of having strong parents. Children tend to emulate their parents' opinions rather than developing their own.

It is important for parents who want their children to grow into mature individuals to ensure that they also become capable of thinking matters through, from different perspectives, and then forming their own thoughts on any subject whether political or otherwise. By being strong-headed about such things, they would be stifling the child's ability to think for himself or herself.

This freedom to think should also exist in religious matters even though this could result in far more controversial results. Shoving religious beliefs down a child's throat can cause rebellion later in life when even basic tenets of humanity could eventually be rejected. Most religious thinking today is constrained by dogma. Instead of trying to understand the fundamentals of religion, children are taught 'not to reason why, but to do and die'.

I believe that encouraging children to develop a mind of their own by laying before them the facts and your perspective and then strongly encouraging them to think through (and also letting them know that it's always alright if they change their mind) is a much better way to help them grow into complete individuals.


Unknown said…
Childrens as people say are like raw clay, they form way we mould. But its true we can't teach them to be emulative but creative and open thinkers as well.Above all they need to be compassionate to all to be harmonious while having their own views about life.
But not to forget we should also follow ourselves what we teach them