Our Children & Truth

“Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time.” (Talmudic proverb)

How often do I hear stories about parents who have raised their children to become clones of themselves in all things relating to faith and practice.

“So why do you believe that?”

“Because I was brought up to believe it.”

“Have you examined your parents’ beliefs?”

“Yes, and I’ve come to the conclusion they were right.”

Sometimes this is true and beliefs have been thoroughly tested and have come out on top in their understanding.

Other times it may be simply that they have been conditioned to accept whatever an authority in their life says and, trusting that person to be true, they have accepted what they were taught.

Then there are other occasions when they have realised intellectually that what they have been taught is incorrect, incomplete, or incompatible with their present understanding of things. And while they have moved from that way of thinking in their mind, their heart is still ingrained with many years of rote learning, conditioning, and sentimental ‘gut feelings’ that are extremely difficult to dismiss.

While I would say I am in the last category, I still find it so easy to accept a trustworthy source. I must constantly be on guard against a naive way of assimilating information. I need to be critically aware of what I accept.

Most importantly, I need to teach my children to be critical thinkers who evaluate, examine, deconstruct (and reconstruct) anything that claims to be truth. I don’t want them to accept what I believe simply because I believe it, or because they trust me. I don’t want to condition their minds to uncritically receive claims from those who are perceived to be ‘authoritative.’ I want them to accept truth that they have themselves discovered, pondered, contemplated, mulled over, and found to be true in their lives.

If I have taught them how to seek truth, I won’t be surprised by–or ashamed of–the truth they find.

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