Logic is the most important thing you can teach your children.
If you have a list of attributes you want to instill in your child, “logic” should be at the top of that list. If your child can be logical and possesses a talent for reasoning, it will calm emotions and keep rebellion from happening. Logic is more than just opinion or your personal reasons for doing what you want. Logic follows a systematic non-partial thought process.
To be logical about an issue means that your reasoning was conducted according to strict principles of validity. In other words you aren’t allowed to ignore negatives when you gather your evidence. You are searching for “truth” and “validity” when you are engaged in a logical debate. A logical person will concentrate just as hard on the negatives of a situation as he will on the positives. Have you ever been in the middle of a discussion and the person you are trying to help turns from discussing logical thought and tries to interject emotions? It might go something like this.
“I’m considering buying a new car. What do you think? This one is several years old and will probably start breaking down anytime now so why not buy a new car before that happens?”
“Didn’t you say your company was in the process of downsizing?”
“Yeah, I did. Terrible how some people are losing their jobs.”
“Can you be sure you won’t lose your job?”
“No. Betty is really worried about that. With our daughter having some dental and medical issues I don’t know how we could make it if I didn’t work.”
“Hum….I’m not sure I’d buy that new car now. At least not until you can be sure your job is safe.”
John shuffles his feet. “But you don’t understand. How awful would it be if I had car trouble on top of losing my job.”
“But John, what difference would it make if you waited for the trouble to happen. Besides, even if it did I’m pretty good with car repairs. If anything happens I’ll help you. In fact, I have a mechanic friend that would probably do some work at cost if you lost your job and needed his help. Car repairs can be much less expensive than a hefty monthly car payment. I don’t think it’s wise to take on debt when you might lose your job.”
John’s face gets red. “You are just like Betty. I can’t talk to you. I’m going to buy a new car and that’s that!”
John isn’t being logical and even in our fictional story it’s easy to tell where this would go if he lost his job. Real logic isn’t based on emotions or desires. Real logic isn’t a tool you can use to boost yourself esteem or soothe your anxiety or depression. Real logic is a list of irrefutable facts. Logic is a system of proof and inference. It’s the quality of being justifiable by reason.
When parent’s allow their children to make decisions based on emotions, they open that child’s life to dangerous decision making. Why? Our talent for making logical decisions begins when we start to learn about the world. When a toddler or elementary school child is learning about his world or interacting with others outside his family, he is building a system of assessment. He’s learning how to put facts together and arrive at a “logical” conclusion.
And where does your child first learn how to determine the forms of valid deductive reasoning? From his/her parents. We set the bar. We determine when and how our children learn to logically face their world. A few weeks ago our family was thrust into a situation where we had to deal with an adult that had not developed logical reasoning. We personally experienced the chaos, hurt feelings, anxiety and stress of trying to deal with illogical behavior. It was as if we were trying to nail jello to the wall. Decisions were illogical so they were always changing to fit some new emotion this person faced. Because the decisions weren’t based on absolute truth, emotions drove each new thought and kept everyone involved constantly off balance.
When we could finally get away and return to our calm logical lives, Ron and I realized how our bodies had suffered. We were mentally and physically exhausted. It took more determination to avoid picking at each other. We had to work to keep our own emotions in check and to respond to each other with kindness. A few days of logical living and we were back to the sweetness we both enjoy in our marriage.
Imagine how your child feels when their world is not secure. If you aren’t logical with your discipline or demands, your child will feel as if he is living in a unsafe, insecure world. In other words – if he can’t count on you to be logical, how can he respond in a calm manner. How would you respond if your boss was constantly moving your performance goals? How would you respond if you counted on a promotion and three times he refused because of an illogical unrealistic reason?
You must have solid evidence for every demand you make on your child. The most confusing thing a parent can say is “Because I say so.” Your child needs an incentive or reason to obey. “Because I say so” is an emotional demand for slave-like compliance.
Being logical means you always have a reason for what you do or what you ask – AND…you can explain those reasons to your child. It will take time to train your children to trust your demands. Once you have earned their trust you can teach them to obey first and ask for understanding later. For those times when you can’t stop to explain your reasons, you can develop a cue word or action that lets your child know you will explain your directions when there is more time.
For example, suppose you are rushing through the grocery store, trying to get home in time to cook for guests, and your small child wants to spend her allowance on a toy you feel is unacceptable.
You respond to her request by saying, “No, Sarah, not today.”
She presses again.
Take her face in your hands and say, “I promise to discuss this after dinner. I can’t stop or I’ll be late. We will talk later, pinky promise.”
By taking her face in your hands, you have her full attention. You have taught her previously that you will keep your promises. You explained why you can’t stop, followed by a fun way to seal the promise. Distract her attention by involving her in your purchases: “Sarah, let’s play a game. Can you help me find the butter?” In reality, this strategy will take less time than fussing as you run through the store. And….the best part….you are training your child to deal with situations based on logic – not on emotions.
When you build your home and your decision making process on logic, your child will be trained to think about all the reasons and possibilities behind every decision they make. In fact, when you stress this form of decision making – your child will be able to do a Decoder Map in their head about any issue they face. When teen issues flood your home, a “logical” teen will understand that he can do anything he wants as long as he “proves” his points and supports his desires with logic.
My children were raised on logic. While we had a lot of discussions and there were several times I changed my mind because my children proved their logic was right – we didn’t have fights, anger or teen rebellion. When you place the responsibility for demands on “logic” it releases you from being the mean parent. You become the parent who wants to allow your children to acquire all their dreams and desires. Just remember once you have chosen the path of logic you can’t go back. In order to show them the great value of your choice, every decision must be made properly and with logic. You children must come to trust you and your decisions.