~ I was sitting at coffee with a friend the other day and a woman he knew through church sat down at our table,
“I’m at my wits end!” she exclaimed, “My husband and I found out that our seventeen year old has not only been having sex, she’s with a nineteen year old guy who sells drugs. She’s being rebellious and won’t listen to us at all. We tried sitting her down to talk and she got so mad she left the house for three days. We don’t know what to do”
Just because I have degrees in psychology and used to work as a counselor, I don’t pretend to be an expert on parenting, but it doesn’t take a PhD to ascertain that by age seventeen, if the parents are this disconnected to their child to the point that the young woman leaves the house for days at a time following arguments, then things are not going to be easily resolved over a cup of coffee.
One of the reasons I’m such a major advocate of reading books and drinking coffee is that those two activities tend to promote positive conversation and connection; when you read, you have something to talk about with other people over a cup of coffee.
One of the great problems in Western Culture between parents and their children is that very little dialogue between them occurs. When young adults spend the majority of their time in front of the television, video games, and talking about dating drama at high school, what is there of substance for them to talk about with their parents?
Too often, reading is viewed by our society as nothing more than a necessary skill to allow children to do well in school. That is perhaps one of the great misconceptions ever propagated; reading is far more than a skill to be used in school.
Because humans are able to think faster than they can read the words in a book, a number of different phenomena occur while we read;
1) we think about what we are reading
2) we ask ourselves if we agree or disagree with the author
3) we think about experiences in our lives that connect with what the author is saying
4) reading gives us ideas to talk about with others
5) we think about what we will have for dinner later
My point is that reading is an activity that stimulates our brains in a far more positive manner than electronic media. You see, when it comes to television and video games, our brains can’t process the images as fast as they are displayed to us; this is why some people call it “zoning out” in front of the television. You can watch television for two hours and at times forget what you are even watching.
Since I am someone who desires that parents have positive relationships with their children, reading then becomes an important element of society which helps to promote positive conversations and the flow of ideas between parents and their children.
Unfortunately, too many young adults have given up on reading in favor of sparknotes, Wikipedia, and Google. Those kind of mediums offer fast “answers” abouts facts, but do a very poor job at promoting the flow of ideas in the brains of our children. Reading the “facts” about President Lincoln on Wikipedia is a poor substitute for reading a biography of his life; the “facts” simply don’t give you a true picture of his life and the multiplicity of ideas that are connected to his legacy.
We are a society of “facts”. At some point in recent history, humans woke up and decided they no longer cared about ideas, they only care about facts; as though the facts are somehow godlike in nature. Sonya Shafer writes “The facts are just something that happened to someone else. The factual account takes all the emotional and human experience aspects out of the equation. But the ideas are common human experiences and emotions that we can relate to and learn from…”
Ultimately, the further away our society moves from reading and the free exchange of ideas, the less parents will have to talk about with their children.
Of course, what do I know? I’m just a dude that enjoys a good cup of coffee,