Our children are making their way through a world that is more complicated than the one we grew up with.
For example, I know a child whose classmate at primary school was a boy but is now considered a girl. While other children are trying to figure this out, the world is telling them that there are no absolutes, and everyone chooses their own truth.
As my son grows up, I want to give him tools to help him understand things clearly. One of the most important things to grasp is the basic distinction between objective facts and subjective opinions. I also want him to be aware that, even though we are “entitled” to choose what we prefer, we can still actually be wrong when our choices don’t match up with reality. This will hopefully help him to work his way through the maze of ideas, and give him a strong foundation for his belief.
Using the sweet and the box idea from my last post, we played another game. Here is how it went:
I said, “There is a sweet in this box.” We both agreed that this was true.
I said, “The sweet in this box is red.” We both agreed that this was true too.
I said, “The sweet in this box is disgusting!”
Big objection from my son. He thought it was delicious. I asked him if the sweet could be both delicious and disgusting at the same time. He knew what I was getting at: we weren’t really talking about the sweet—we were talking about our opinions of it. He thought it was yummy, and I thought it was disgusting (or at least I said so, in order to make the point!).
Then I said, “I think the sweet in this box is very healthy for me.”
Another big objection from my son. This time, what I thought about the sweet was actually false. It wasn’t a matter of what I preferred this time. Either the sweet was healthy or unhealthy. No matter how much I wished for it to be healthy, that doesn’t change the fact that it actually isn’t.
We then had a chat about how we can get confused about this kind of thing, and start to treat everything in life as if it’s just a matter of opinion. While we should listen to each other’s opinions and show respect, this doesn’t mean that every opinion is true. That’s just not how things work in reality.
For example, people might choose their religion because they like it more than some others (like my son saying that he likes the sweet more than I do). But different religions do actually make claims about what is really the case! And their claims often conflict with each other: for example, in whether or not they would agree that Jesus is the Son of God.
Not only can our opinion about some things be wrong, but there can also be consequences—like believing that a sweet is healthy yet still getting sick from eating too many!