Many of today’s kids, at least my kid, seems to think it’s perfectly OK to have fun believing in ghosts, unicorns, witchcraft, demons, UFOs, vampires, and the like. They appear to understand that much of this is by choice and strictly for entertainment purposes only. It seems fair to think that childish things will eventually be discarded.
But, I’m concerned.
During a dinnertime discussion I pressed the issue about the lucky numbers that appeared in our Chinese fortune cookies. The concept of lucky numbers is silly. I got mad that my husband wanted to bait my rising irritation by saying how the restaurant lady must have been guided by destiny to pick our individual fortunes and lucky numbers in a mass produced, poorly tasting “cookie”. My older daughter (11) thinks of me as the party pooper on these topics by suggesting alternate ways of simply thinking about the issue that end up being the less mysterious interpretations.
Today, she said my skepticism “gets old”. Why don’t I just be open-minded and let people believe in unicorns if they want to? What’s the harm?
Well, she did need some schoolin’ on this point. Not being preachy but I did give her some less warm and fuzzy examples — the recent cases of children who died because their parents prayed and trusted their God to heal the sickness instead of doctors; how people still kill so-called witches in third-world countries; that people lose their life savings by giving it to psychics and astrologers instead of sound financial advisors; and of families torn apart by false memories of abuse implanted by therapists. Finally, I told her how mainstream parents are falling prey to the nonsense of the antivax promoters whose tactics allow for the resurgence of long-supressed childhood illnesses.
Would she rather believe in the truth or an interesting story? What about when it really counts?
This was the first that she made the connection between critical thinking and life-changing or life-ending situations. At least, I hope she did.