Professor Harvey Shapiro – Helping Kids Understand Tough Questions

posted by Chris Valentine

As a parent it can be hard when kids want to know, or try and understand, the tough questions that life throws at us. During the school years of course we learn a lot about ethics and there is no rush in finding your place on those kind of tough questions. In fact I have found throughout my life that I have flip-flopped on my opinions on a variety of topics, as I have learned and discovered more. I was very fortunate at university that I had a great teacher in Professor Harvey Shapiro, who often went into great depth regarding these kinds of questions. As a parent however, how can we shape our kids to hold opinions on these kinds of topics? Let’s take a look.

Leave Your Opinions Out

The most important thing that you have to do here is to completely leave aside your own opinions on the tough questions, and instead allow your kids to develop their own opinions from an unbiased standpoint. This can be hard to do, especially if you are particularly forthright in your own opinions on a particular subject. If however you are too strong in your opinions then you will find that your kids have opinions based purely on yours, and not on those which they have discovered themselves.

Information Above Everything

The key to helping your child to understand what they think about things is to provide them with as much information as you possibly can. This means laying out arguments and conflicting arguments and backing them up with actual facts. In doing this you are not only helping your kid to reach an opinion, you are also helping them to learn how to decipher and process information. Sometimes information which doesn’t support their argument is incredibly necessary, and that is why this is such an important step.

Arguing With Them

This sounds far more aggressive than it really is, but it will be healthy for you to come up with arguments against the opinion which your child decides upon. This is not to second guess them or prove them wrong, not at all. This activity in fact is about teaching your kids that there are two sides to a story and that they will have to anticipate opposition if they are to hold fast with the belief that they have chosen.

Making It Ok

Ultimately you need to teach your kids that no matter what opinion they wish to hold, that it is ok to do so. This is even more true if they have formulated their opinion based on facts and information, and supporting evidence. If they have weighted up a number of viewpoints to arrive at their opinion then this is of course the absolute perfect way to go about holding an opinion, and it should certainly be applauded.

It is not easy but this is the best way to help your kids to have an opinion on an important and ethical topic.

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