142. Children’s Wisdom

Like the rest of us, children say things that shed light. They see things in new ways, and, lo and behold, they uncover bits of truth. Though I think this is true of everyone, when you hear profound words coming from your own child, you may think you are the parent of a reincarnated sage. I’ve heard parents speak with reverence about their own children’s wisdom, and I’ve seen looks of pride and admiration. The admiration reinforces the wisdom. Once, when I was a child, I told my mother that even though I was an atheist, I believed that if all the people on earth could get together and work together, they would be God. I still remember the intense look of pride on my mother’s face. I’d pulled off some wisdom, and if that’s the reaction I was going to get, I was going to say wise things whenever I got the chance. Most children aren’t actually wiser than most adults. If they were, growing up would be a counterproductive thing to do. In fact, with the exception of my own children (who were both gurus by age three), most children aren’t even as wise as most adults. Wisdom comes from experience, and the wisdom we see in our children is at least partly a reflection of our own wisdom. I suspect that my mother unknowingly got me thinking atheistic, humanistic thoughts, and didn’t really need to be so surprised by what she saw as “my” wisdom. And I’m sure that plenty of other adults, had they heard my words on God and people, would have responded quite differently. I think part of the reason children’s words often astonish us is that children haven’t learned how to dress up their thoughts. Their wisdom doesn’t contain obscure references. They are often less intent than adults are on getting people to know how wise they are. In other words, they don’t try as hard. I’m not saying these things to belittle the gems that come from the mouths of babes. I do believe in children’s wisdom. But I think some adults deserve to take more credit than they do. Keep respecting the children for the great thoughts they think and the things they say. But realize, too, that your preadolescent, your adolescent, your young adult, and you have wisdom, too.

Comments are closed.