Saturday, April 5, 2014

Teaching Children How To Think

Growing up in our home of six children and two godly parents, I recall our dad {who was a very good life insurance salesman} mentioning on more than one occasion that people today don't know how to think.  Hence, he tried to teach his own children to think by using questions.  Whenever we would have something to discuss, particularly as he was disciplining us {I prefer to call it training us}, he would ask us questions designed to make us think.  

For instance, I recall being asked this question a lot, when Daddy, in counseling us, was trying to help us think through our misbehavior issue: "If you were a parent, and you had a child in this situation, what would you do?"  Not wanting to give a flippant answer or be untruthful {both of which he would know immediately were not good responses}, I would truly think it over and give my best answer.  Which would also help me, indeed, see the situation from his perspective, which, in turn, helped me change my undesirable behavior.  

Thus I learned early on how to ask questions.  I actually became quite curious as time went on, and often felt free to ask people in my life whatever popped into my little head.  {You should see me now - if Google were a person, he/she would be fed up with me!!!}

Daddy used to say that people generally like to talk about themselves, so it pays to be a good listener.  He was known as a good insurance man who cared and took the time to listen to his clients.  I used the "gift" of questions and listening to help folks feel at home in getting to know me.  I tried to be sensitive and not ask the wrong things, and generally I found that people feel more at ease after they've shared about themselves.  This came in handy when we entertained guests for dinner, etc., which happened a lot after I married Harold.

Also, after I married my strong, quiet husband, I learned that questions weren't always welcomed by everyone.  So I toned it down a bit, and tried to become more sensitive to people, discerning whether it was right to ask them something or not.  But there was one good use of questions that helped me "adapt" to my husband in a good way.

Harold, like a lot of men, I suppose, doesn't like to be told what to do by a domineering woman.  And I knew way before being married that a bossy wife was totally undesirable, not to mention unscriptural {Proverbs 25:24 & 21:9}.  But there are times when he needs to know my perspective on an issue or if there's something I would like for him to do.  

Enter THE QUESTION!  Couched in kind language and spoken 
in a sweet spirit.  Things like ~

"Honey, do you think you could open the shutters now?" 
"Would you like to take your fiber now or later?"
"Did you remember that the meter reader is coming today?"
"Did we pay the car insurance yet?"
"Would you like to go for a walk with me this morning?"
"Are you remembering the 10 o'clock appointment with the roofer this morning?"

A question spoken this way lets me say what I'm thinking without being pushy, because the ball is now in his court.  Sometimes it's a low-level reminder kind of thing, and sometimes it's a little weightier.  In either case, I've let him know my thoughts, and the rest is up to him.  

At first I wasn't at ease with asking him stuff like this, so I had to rehearse the question in my head several times.  But practice makes perfect, as they say, and it is second nature to me now.  And in the asking, it's like I'm letting go of my side of things for him to make the final decision.  You can't imagine the relief it gives me to know that I'm not ultimately responsible when I've turned the decision-making over to him.  Very liberating.

There are some things that a wife learns over time that her husband doesn't like to make decisions about - trivial things that he lets her decide.  Before I married, a very wise friend advised me that men who were leaders {like her husband and mine} didn't really care so much what they wore or ate, hence they were happy to let their wives make those choices for them.  I bless her for those words!  They have come in handy so many times in my marriage, and I have been thus able to relieve my husband of a few decisions in his responsibility-laden life.  So "What do you want for breakfast?" or "What do you want to wear?" are questions that almost never come out of my mouth!  He's happy to let me make those decisions.  

Also, over time, since my man got the idea that I wasn't going to boss him, I didn't necessarily have to use a question every time.  Words spoken in a gentle spirit now accomplish the same thing.

I still am curious about a lot of things, and I'm ever so glad for Mr. Google!  But before all that, I'm thankful for a dad who took the time to train his kids to think.  

But let it be the hidden person of the heart, 
with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, 
which is precious in the sight of God.
I Peter 3:4

***Remember, you are a new creature IN CHRIST, 
covered by His grace and mercy, and walk in newness of life!