On Saturday night, I observed something beautiful. Picture this. Four teenagers, their parents, and their three grandparents were all in the living room. A friend and I were also there.
Our conversation went here and there and it was truly enjoyable and stimulating. Asking, answering, talking, listening, laughing, respecting.
The oldest teen, who just finished her freshman year in college, spoke up. She respectfully stated her opinion about something and was able to back it up with reasons that were solid to her.
No pushback. No disagreements. No shock expressed by anyone. Her sisters didn’t disrespect her. No adult made her feel bad or stupid. She hadn’t been either.
I imagine at least some of the adults in the room were concerned about her opinion or her reasons for her opinion, but they didn’t argue or negate her. No one wrung their hands worried. There were no sideways glances. None of us were plotting, immediately thinking about how we could get her to change her mind. That wouldn’t have been the place to do it.
This girl’s parents want their children to think and their oldest sure does. Children won’t think and risk verbalizing opinions and asking questions if every time they do they’re questioned and forced to defend themselves further. This girl thinks because her parents and grandparents share truth with her, give her the freedom to draw conclusions, and don’t panic when she does the very thing they want her to do.
If her parents want her to think more about the issue she verbalized, they’ll look for teachable moments and the right time to engage her. They respect her enough to not leave her believing a lie and to not challenge her in front of others when it wasn’t necessary.
I was impressed by this girl’s awareness and confidence. I was impressed by the adults’ confidence. Respect is a beautiful thing. I loved seeing it and hearing it.
If you want those around you to think, start with respect.