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Following Ralph Nader to the Dinner Table

Read this with an open mind with a keen eye on the parenting aspect. I was watching the documentary on Ralph Nader, “An Unreasonable Man” and something really stood out to me that had nothing to do with his beliefs, Nader-unreasonable-manconspiracy theories, the Green Party or “Nader’s Raiders.”  Instead, what grabbed me was how when he was in grade school his father would give he and his siblings a problem to solve each day.  They would have the day to think and come together to discuss answers over dinner.

I thought this is great way to help scuplt young minds and make critical thinking fun.  Also it could help my children understand that nothing is set in stone, and to seek their own solutions to problems.

A great line from the movie was when Nader’s father asked him: “Well, Ralph, what did you learn in school today? Did you learn how to believe or did you learn how to think?”

As a parent, I want my kids to be thinkers.  I want them to know that their thoughts could one day change the world, so it starts now.  It starts at the dinner table, it starts in the car, it starts with me listening, and reassuring them that no answer is wrong as long as their can support their view. Encourage them to have their own views and not be shy about expressing them.

I decided to try this problem-solving scenario out on my three little ones (7-9 years old).  We were dealing with the hot topic of bullying. It was in the news with the Incognito- Martin NFL scandal and my eldest daughter was facing a bit of bullying in her classroom. My questions to the kids, “If you were in charge of your own school, what would you do about bullying and what rules might you put in place to stop that behavior?”  I asked them during the ride to school and informed them they had until dinner to think of their answer.

The first day, they all forgot to think about the question but the next day they came to the table with solutions.  They even took the time to name their school’s; “Kurios University” and “Ipod Touch 5 Generation Charter School” which sounded vaguely like items on their Christmas list. Subtlety is not a quality my kids possess.

The solutions they presented were similar to what was already in place in there school.  I encouraged them to think outside of the box, so we began to brainstorm at the dinner table.  I told them nothing was off limits or too outrageous, aside from jail or murder, of course.  My kids are a happy and loving bunch, so it didn’t go too far but it got them thinking.  Most important they were left feeling their opinion mattered.  All in all the experiment was a success.

Nader never had kids and likely never will. but what he shared from his upbringing in the documentary will help me rear my kids.  As a single parent I need all the help I can get. Thanks Ralph, you are not so unreasonable after all.

Below is the full documentary if you would like to watch it.  Well done. Also learn some of the good Nader has done; without him cars might not have seatbelts or any safety features for that matter.  Enjoy.

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