Do We Trust Our Children Enough?

Robert Krulwich, NPR’s science correspondent, recently posted on his blog the story of a remarkable nine-year old boy who gets dubbed “the philosopher” for his views on the world, the universe, the question of free will and destiny, and more, all in just a few minutes.

Except, as Krulwich explains via his interview of the film’s maker, the boy isn’t that unusual. Bright, yes; extraordinary, probably not. Except perhaps in this: his parents have gotten into the habit of asking him profound questions and taking seriously his answers. His parents, in other words, trust his ability to think, to reason, to wonder, and to offer his deepest thoughts.

Watch the four minute video and then wonder with me about a couple of things:

Do we trust our kids enough to do this? To think deeply about their life, their relationships, and their faith? What would Sunday School or confirmation be like if our kids expected to come not just to learn what was taught them but also to think, to argue, to wonder, and to share? What would our homes be like if we trusted our kids enough to cherish their deepest inclinations about their – and our – lives?

Might it be that if our kids – whether at home, school, or church – aren’t surprising us, it’s because we’re not asking them to, not making room for their opinions, or not cherishing their assertions?

Lest we worry that this kind of intellectual freedom or attention will go to their heads, take note how many times the young philosopher says, “I could be wrong…”. Rather than feeding his ego, the freedom his parents have granted him has led to a sense of wonder that nurtures a natural humility along side a piercing inquisitiveness.

So I’ll ask again: what would our kids do if we set them free with the promises of our regard and attention. I don’t know for sure. But I do know that I am grateful that this young man – and his equally incredible/normal younger brother and sister – live in a home where they’ve been encouraged to think, ask, wonder, and assert. It has led them, I think, to the kind of creative and holy awe I want all of our children to develop.

Notes: 1) If you are receiving this post by email, you may need to click here to watch the video.
2) Thanks to Ben C. for passing this story on.