Real Parenting: The Power Of Knowledge
What should a person do when they discover that they have a flat tire? How does one buy a house? What should a manager look for in a job applicant? What formula in Excel allows you to remove a set number of characters from a bunch of cells at once? What is the difference between an eighth note and a sixteenth note? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?
Problems. Questions. Dilemmas. Most, if not all of these things, have one thing in common…a set number of answers or responses. Granted, not all situations have a perfect solution and at times things will be out of your control as you’re left trying to pick up the pieces…but for the most part you’ll often be faced with a decision to make.
It’s always been my belief that knowledge is what gives us the ability to see us through these problems. When we fail, it is often because we didn’t possess enough knowledge to see ALL of the possibilities.
Knowledge is what starts businesses and jump-starts leaps in evolutionary technology. Gaining an understanding of how things work through research changes the ways we look at things…things that we often take for granted. Critical thinking helps us see possibilities that no one else may have considered, turning a guaranteed failure into a plausible success.
Being an overall knowledgable person is a good thing…got it? Good. Now let’s switch gears for a minute.
What separates Lex Luther from Superman or The Joker from Batman? The villain is often just as smart as the hero…so what happened? How could something as good as knowledge be twisted to inflict pain and suffering on others? The truth? It just can…knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
Knowledge is all well and good, but part of growing up is obtaining the wisdom necessary to use that knowledge appropriately. With great power comes great responsibility…and all that crap.
Parents, have you ever wished there was a way to hook up your kid to a machine to make them ten times as smart so that they can get straight A’s in school, learn to play an instrument, and cure cancer all in one swoop? Of course you have…most parents (the good ones) want to see their children succeed.
What if we did? That is…build a machine that COULD make your child smarter than the entire town of Eureka (*sigh* Google it) combined? Would it really be a good idea?
Consider this…how would we, as a human race, measure up when our technology advanced far beyond our ability to use it properly? Should we really possess that much power before we have the wisdom to use it?
Now take a step back from Matthew Broderick causing Global Thermonuclear War (watch your WarGames, kids) and take a look at your next of kin. As parents, not only are we tasked with educating our children with as much knowledge as their brains can handle but with conveying the wisdom that goes along with the power of that knowledge.
When I walk through downtown Pittsburgh, I am generally able to see which kids have parents who care and which ones don’t, mainly based on their behavior. Granted, kids are kids and they will sneak things behind their parents’ back…but good parents take an interest in what their kids are up to and keep the lines of communication open should they need to talk. Good parents also take an interest in who their children hang out with and take note of any sudden changes in behavior.
As children get older they are more likely to form beliefs on what they consider appropriate and less likely to listen to what their parents have to say. It depends on the child, but the will to explore and do their own thing is a powerful motivator (especially for a teenager)…even if it means disobeying the rules and being an overall jerk.
Sometimes, no matter how much we try as parents…as much knowledge and wisdom that we try to convey…an older child may refuse to listen and take up a life of being a troublemaker and juvenile delinquent. It’s difficult as parents to watch your child choose that route for themselves. All parents can do is to keep trying to push their child to their potential while discouraging negative behavior.
In the end, however, the child has to be the one to WANT to improve themselves with said knowledge and wisdom, and sometimes they have to fall flat on their face a couple of times before they understand that their parents were right all along.
So, parents…encourage your kids to think outside of the box. Make them think, period. Teach them the value of a dollar. Help them reason out moral dilemmas. Explain to them why it is important to stay in school and to get good grades. Tell them why getting into trouble constantly will hurt their chances later on in life in getting a job and making a living. They may not always listen, but someday they’ll look back and realize that you were trying to help them.
Knowledge is power…and in the right hands, knowledge can be a great tool for achieving goals and overcoming hurdles. Give your kids the chance to succeed by encouraging them to be the best they can be, as early on in life as possible. We’re not perfect, and we shouldn’t demand it, but it never hurts to do your best.