Danger Zone #1 - Low Information/Highly Expressive
When someone lacks knowledge but abounds in confidence, we typically describe that person as "sophomoric."
The word sophomore comes from the Greek words sophos, meaning "wise" and moros, meaning "fool."
This is a dangerous combination!
Someone who is sophomoric is literally a "wise fool."
A sophomoric person makes risky attempts to be independent or creative before they have the skill to act safely, or they may make strong assertions of opinion without knowledge of the necessary underlying facts.
The Bible describes such people in Romans 1:22 saying, "Professing to be wise, they became fools."
For my 6th Christmas I got a shiny red bicycle with training wheels.
My dad told me that after breakfast he would teach me how to ride it. (I lacked that knowledge.)
After breakfast he went to change into outdoor clothes, which seemed to my young mind to take foreverrrrr! So I decided that it would probably be okay if I practiced while I waited for him as long as I stayed in our driveway. (My independent spirit was abundant.)
We lived on a hill.
Our driveway sloped toward the street, which sloped down the hill until it intersected the main road and ended in a curb.
The people who lived at the bottom of our street had a big cactus garden.
I did not know how to use the brakes on my shiny new bike.
You can guess the rest...I spent most of Christmas morning lying on my stomach while my mom tweezed cactus spines out of my backside!
It was a memorable Christmas. ;)
We DO want our children to become independent and creative in their thinking, but danger lurks when children act independently before they are prepared to make wise choices.
Making wise decisions for our children until they have learned to make good choices is a parent's job.
Teaching our children how to make good choices is also a parent's job.
You may know parents who let their children decide for themselves what they will eat, when they'll go to bed, or whether or not they will do chores and school work. The children are given free rein to make decisions, based largely on their personal preferences without much regard for the possible consequences, and for a time they may seem happy. Many children dislike aspects of good personal discipline, but they don't yet understand why these disciplines are necessary and beneficial.
It's a good idea to give children practice in making independent selections within a framework of acceptable options.
You can help them learn to make good decisions by giving them the information they should consider and presenting several good choices. Their wisdom and confidence will grow as they make good choices.
- "We need a green vegetable to go with our meal. Which do like better: peas, beans, or broccoli?"
- "Brrr...it's cold outside! Would you prefer to wear your blue sweater or your red jacket?"
- "If we work together to clean up quickly, I'll have time to play with you. I'll vacuum. Would you rather dust or put away the toys?"
- "Time to sleep! If you put away your game and brush your teeth quickly, you may read in bed for awhile." (Choice is implied. If you drag your feet, there will be no time for a story.)
A similar tactic can work for older children. During the adolescent, teen and young adult years this type of coaching in more important than ever because the consequences of poor choices are greater.
Adolescents, teens, and young adults are sometimes thought of as "rebellious" (and this is sometimes true), but often they make unfortunate life choices because they don't have enough knowledge when they are called on to make a decision or because they don't thoroughly understand the complexities of their situation.
Part of our role as proactive parents is to apprentice our children for adulthood.
In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, God sets the example of good parenting by telling His children "the rules" up front. He wanted to make sure they knew the way to have a safe and prosperous life. In Deuteronomy 6 and again in chapter 11, He instructs parents to diligently teach these instructions to their children, "talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up."
In other words, parents should provide a living example to children and give them godly instruction in the course of daily life.
- Instead of stopping off on the way home from work to vote, maybe you could take an older child with you to your local voting station. On the way, talk about the issues that are important to you.
- Take them with you when you worship or do community outreach and service projects. Let them see your family's traditions and beliefs in action.
- Whenever possible, let your children work with you. Whether you're doing routine maintenance and upkeep on house and cars or doing what you do for a living, involve your children whenever possible. They will not only learn valuable skills, but they will also develop their sense of appreciation and duty.
- This one's tough...Let them see when you make mistakes and how you make things right. Allow them to develop empathy and learn from the mistakes of others. Let them hear what a heartfelt apology sounds like. Let them experience the consequences of poor choices, but also let them experience grace, forgiveness, and the chance to try again.
Homeschooling gives us the wonderful opportunity to let our children walk beside us daily. We have the opportunity to let them see how the things they are learning apply to real life--physically, emotionally, spiritually, and in their relationships--and we talk to them about important choices before the time comes for them to make those choices.
The idea is not to crush our children's spirits, but to equip them to live freely and independently in ways that are safe and will help them prosper.