Is it possible to raise a child who both questions and yet respects authority?
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30-11-2014, 05:29 PM
RE: Is it possible to raise a child who both questions and yet respects authority?
(30-11-2014 02:54 PM)Escape Artist Wrote:  The title kind of speaks for itself, but I am curious as to y'alls thoughts on this. Is it really possible to raise children who both question and yet respect authority? And if so, how?

Because, so often, even the act of a child simply questioning an authority figure is seen (by some adults) as being disrespectful, i.e. "Just do what I told you to do." But I should think that most of us here who are parents would encourage our children to question those in a position of authority over them, even us.

I personally do not want my children doing what an adult says, simply because that person said it. Adults can be wrong, and their advice is not always sound.

That being said, it is often wise to at least *listen to* (even if you don't take) the advice of those who've lived longer than you and/or have more experience** than you yourself have.

I can say I've been on both sides of this issue as a parent. I've been pleased to see them (my kids) not take things at face value and not be afraid to question those in a position of authority over them. And yet, I've also had those moments where I tire of their questions and wish they'd just do what I tell them to do, without questioning so much.

There is probably a simple solution to this that I just haven't thought of because I am undoubtedly complicating the situation far too much. Undecided And I wish I had an example or something, but I can't seem to come up with one.

Maybe it comes down to... some traits that are desirable as an adult do not make for a "good" child in the way that many (at least around these here southern parts of the United States Tongue ) folks seem to define a good child. A good kid does what they are told without question.

But yet when one becomes an adult it is suddenly not okay to just accept what people in authority over you tell you to do. Suddenly you are supposed to not be gullible anymore. Suddenly you are to think for yourself and question things. I just don't believe it's good or fair to expect people to behave one way in their younger years and then switch gears on them as adults (and wow I am probably revealing a lot about my own upbringing here Confused ) and very nearly ridicule them for doing the very same things that garnered them praise as a child.

There are some adults who will see any questioning at all (even if it is done in a non-snotty way) as being disrespectful. I don't think there's much one can do about that, but do you think there is a way to spare kids this difficult transition? Can we teach kids from the outset how to question authority figures and yet do so in a way that won't get them too much scolding in the process? Consider

**because simply having been around (lived) longer doesn't necessarily mean you've more experience, just as having been around less doesn't necessarily mean you've less experience.

I'm pretty sure getting tired of kids asking questions is the natural state for parents. Hell, it's actually one of the reasons I don't like kids and I'm sure as fuck probably never going to have one! Questions are good, but they've the annoying tendency to ask question I can't answer purely because I know they wouldn't understand the response.

Anyway: Is it possible? Sure.
Though the ease of it depends of how and what you are teaching. For instance, how do you teach them to show 'respect' and how are you teaching them that this respect should be meted-out?

For instance; I was taught that respect was proportional to two things: age and position relative to me. To show the respect 'warranted', I was to show deference, total deference in respect to my immediate superiors (like police, ambulance officers, officers and NCOs in the organisation I grew up in, teachers, etc.); obedience was how to show the respect. Questioning that authority or not showing the proper amount of deference was tantamount to sacrilege. I had to figure out critical thought regarding authorities on my own over time.

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30-11-2014, 05:36 PM
RE: Is it possible to raise a child who both questions and yet respects authority?
EA - easy it ain't!

My kids are 37, 33, and 27. Kid one was certainly an experiment and an experience.

I was raised to never question authority under threat of physical violence. I learned growing up that just because someone is in a position of authority they could be wrong but fear of my parents kept me from saying/doing anything about it. I just had to figure out how to raise my children much differently than I was raised.

You figure it out as you go. Unfortunately kids don't come with instruction manuals and even if they did it could never cover every possibility.

You are doing just fine. And your kids will be fine.

See here they are the bruises some were self-inflicted and some showed up along the way. - JF
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30-11-2014, 05:53 PM
RE: Is it possible to raise a child who both questions and yet respects authority?
I wonder if maybe the best way to teach this is to hear them out when they complain about any rules or punishments you dole out. If they are questioning you by just pouting, or yelling, try to get them to talk to you about it calmly, hear them out. If they have good points, tell them so and adjust accordingly. If they don't, explain why things are going to be the way they are.

I think that advice sounds easy, but will be difficult in practice.

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30-11-2014, 06:02 PM
RE: Is it possible to raise a child who both questions and yet respects authority?
Of course it's possible. My parents succeeded quite admirably. Big Grin

We have enough youth. How about looking for the Fountain of Smart?
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30-11-2014, 06:19 PM
RE: Is it possible to raise a child who both questions and yet respects authority?
I had a 13 yr old niece who wanted to be able to drink a beer and go out with men in their 20s because she thought she was old enough to make her own decisions about her life. She questioned the authority of het parents asking "Why can't i ?"

My brother and his wife sat her down and explained why she wasn't old enough to make these kinds of decisions about her life. Because of her age, she wouldn't or couldn't accept their explanations. She wanted to do what she wanted to do and until she felt the harm, she wasn't going to listen to them.

Since then she's been grounded nearly every week. Cell phone taken away permanently and restricted to monitored internet use while at home. No sleep overs with friends, because she can't be trusted.

This went on for 2 years and now she's 15. She's on birth control. They allow her to date boys her age, but still no cell phone.

They are expecting her to either run away from home, quit school, move in with some guy and or be raped at some point. She won't listen to anything they have to say.

Teaching kids to question or respect authority is one thing, but if they don't listen to the answers when they question authority nor do they obey the commands even if they respect the authority, then the point is moot.

They will learn to deal with the consequences of their actions one way or another.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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30-11-2014, 06:45 PM
RE: Is it possible to raise a child who both questions and yet respects authority?
I believe it's possible to teach a child that an authority figure may or may not have anyone's best interests in mind.
Personal agendas are as numerous as people, being skeptical and gathering as much information as possible is something anyone can do.
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30-11-2014, 07:04 PM
RE: Is it possible to raise a child who both questions and yet respects authority?
My anecdotal evidence suggests that younger kids have a natural respect for authority that begins to wane s their independence develops. My oldest is entering preteen and has fallen off a cliff in this area. The really hard part is that no amount of reason or logic works because she is so hormonally/emotionally driven right now (sorry if that sounds chauvinistic, it's according to my wife).

I've found that staying calm and not conceding my authority helps. I do want my kids to pay proper respect based on rank. Respect doesn't equal agreement. An orderly society depends on at least a modicum of positional acknowledgement.
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30-11-2014, 07:36 PM
RE: Is it possible to raise a child who both questions and yet respects authority?
(30-11-2014 02:54 PM)Escape Artist Wrote:  Is it really possible to raise children who both question and yet respect authority? And if so, how?
I see my job as a parent to prepare my offspring to be independent.

She's 5 turning 6 and is in a netball team this year.
This is how I taught her to mark the opposition.

Me "Let's play piggie in the middle"
Her "yay"

She stands in the middle, I throw the ball over her and her mum catches it with ease.
I suggest to her to stand over next to Mum, but just in front.
I struggle to get the ball to Mum because daughter is in the way.
I then suggest to daughter to stand in the middle again
She says "No, I'm standing over here in front of Mummy"
I give her the thumbs up with a big smile.

I like it when she is disobedient it means she has understood rather than merely doing as she is told.
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30-11-2014, 10:10 PM
RE: Is it possible to raise a child who both questions and yet respects authority?
Wow, lots of good food for thought in y'alls posts! Thanks. Big Grin

I'm still trying to figure out this parenting thing sans-religion, so I need all the help I can get. Thumbsup

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01-12-2014, 07:52 AM
RE: Is it possible to raise a child who both questions and yet respects authority?
(30-11-2014 07:36 PM)Stevil Wrote:  I like it when she is disobedient it means she has understood rather than merely doing as she is told.

You will not like it so much when she is 15.
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