“Training- training is everything; training is all there is to a person. We speak of nature; it is folly; there is no such thing as nature; what we call by that misleading name is merely heredity and training. We have no thoughts of our own, no opinions of our own; they are transmitted to us, trained into us.”
― Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
When I was 19 I lived in Madison Wisconsin USA on the isthmus between 2 lakes. There were bike trails, the university, outdoor festivals and farmers markets on the capital square. My neighborhood was a mix of students and hippies. My next-door neighbors were a young family and much to my surprise one day I found the 5 and 6-year-old had written in sidewalk chalk – Subvert the dominant paradigm. I wasn’t sure what it meant so I looked it up and I liked it immediately.
My parenting style may be different than others – or I should say it absolutely is different from others. I want my children to function successfully in the school system and to be respectful. I do not however want them to lack in critical thinking and to just accept everything they are told at face value. I also don’t want the personality conditioned out of them so that they can be docile and easy to control. As you may intuit this has led to some challenges for me and some calls from the school over the years.
It has also led to parent teacher conferences where a teacher tells me how much my kids contribute to the discussions and how my son saw something in a story that has been in the curriculum for the last 15 years that she had never noticed and how insightful it was.
Children need boundaries but they also need to have space to develop their natural gifts. A bright child with logical arguments should be directed to the debate society instead of the principals office. Aggressiveness can be honed on the athletic field or basketball court. Creativity can be explored in art club, band, chorus or drama. Trying to force kids into a box only stifles them.
“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” – Michael Jordan
If we want our kids to become leaders instead of followers, we need to encourage then to test their boundaries. Don’t be afraid to let your kids fight for what they believe in and see what they can accomplish.