Train Up a Child, Part II

arguing kids

I have had one ghetto fabulous moment after another–how many times do I have to tell these children that I am not their mamas? These children have not been taught very much. It’s obvious to me that no one read many books to them or helped them practice the most basic of tasks like reciting the alphabet. Most of them do not read on level and even fewer of them can do math at grade level. So parents definitely are not spending excessive amounts of time on homework or practice of anything constructive. But what they are teaching their children is how to fight and argue.

Now, don’t get it twisted, I believe in being able to defend yourself. I am death on anyone who comes at me to argue. I have been called aggressive, argumentative, over confident, and difficult. I’ve even been called a smart ass. But what I can surely say about myself (whether I agree with the other names or not) is that in order for me to be a smart ass, I first had to be smart. And in order to win an argument, I had to have a wealth of things to say.

angry black kidThese kids argue with nothing to say. “Why not?” and “You’re mean” and “But why?” are not valid argument statements. Insulting people is not a viable debate tool. Not being able to articulate what you believe and how you feel is most surely dangerous business. It could mean the difference between a C or a D, a yes or a no, getting a promotion or getting laid off. It could save your life.

So what to do? How do I teach inarticulate children how to speak for themselves who have nothing to say? How do you connect what they do know to what they speak from their lips? I don’t know. But I gotta figure something out because we are moving backwards here, even as doctors and lawyers and millionaires and presidents have been chosen to represent us.

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