Donald Sterling is the current owner of the Los Angeles Clippers and he’s now embroiled in a complicated fight that, believe it or not, has much to offer parents. Sterling’s now ex-paramour secretly recorded, a private, at-home conversation as he expressed personal opinions and his limitations on her associations. After she provided a celebrity gossip tabloid outlet with the recordings, Sterling has been deemed a racist due to statements he made in the recording, and Adam Silver, Commissioner of the NBA has banned him for life from participating in NBA functions, fined him $2.5 million dollars, and now pressing for a forced sale of his family owned franchise.
What does this story have to offer parents?
This situation, as well as so many current events, is loaded with opportunity to engage in thought provoking conversation that will not only be lively, but help to clarify personal ethics, character, principles, values, and morals when influenced by biases, prejudices, partial and uniformed consensus and popular culture.
As we groom our children to succeed, teaching them to become rational, critical thinkers is essential. The strength of the United States was built on free-thinking and thought leaders remain the innovators of the world. Engaging in dialogue that encourages your older elementary to high school children to think for themselves, have courage to draw personal conclusions, not automatically follow group-think but gather information, consider various perspectives, evaluate deeper principles, logically discuss many points, develops critical thinking and rational thought. It protects them from easy manipulation and builds the ability to analyze the world around them while defining their personal identity. It builds strong, rational, self-determined and confident adults.
Current events involving Donald Sterling, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus in contrast to others like Michigan State University basketball star Adreian Payne and his relationship with Lacey Holsworth can introduce topics of civil liberties, character, popularity, racism, censorship, cultural responsibility, consequences, mores, role models, and media influence to name a few.
To get into a productive conversation, ask leading questions and contribute thoughts that bring in another point of view and get down to core the issues. The point is to practice objective thinking and reasoning without becoming emotional, not necessarily to end with your childagreeing with your conclusions. Start out simply talking about current events especially if heard about on the news or radio while together, then introduce more thought-provoking questions into each subsequent conversation.
“What do you know about …”
“Seems like the popular opinion is… What do you think?”
“There are principles underneath, what other perspectives are there to consider?”
“While we might not agree with/like what someone does, what should be true for all of us?”
“What’s that situation mean to you?”
Engage your kids in discourse to get them thinking.
PS. If you make it normal to have open conversations when they’re little, they’ll be much more inclined to continue to talk with they’re teenagers…
“Too often we… enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” – JOHN F. KENNEDY