I love a good debate. Tim does not. In fact, he avoids conflict at any and all costs. I think there is something wonderfully engaging and educational about looking at issues from different perspectives. I’ve even been known to play “devil’s advocate” and take the opposite position of others just to be able to enjoy a good discussion. Tim hates that! But I believe debating is a very valuable skill to have and since my children were not going to learn that one from daddy, I seized a recent opportunity in life to expose the family to a little healthy debate.
It all started when a friend offered us one of her pets. We don’t have a pet. For a few months, we have talked about getting one. We have discussed all the great pet options out there- turtles, snakes, maybe an aquatic frog. Then, quite unexpectedly we were presented with that opportunity to adopt my friend's pet......a baby iguana. I used to have an iguana and really, they are so, so cute and, as babies, not much trouble. Part of me wanted that adorable little lizard, but part of me didn’t. My children all wanted it. Tim, definitely, did not. We had to make a decision and we seemed to be at a crossroads.
So, I announced we would have a formal family debate.
I explained to my children that they should each prepare a written essay presenting their opinion on the pet matter and be prepared to share their thoughts with the family at dinner time. I sat down and wrote out my own thoughts, deciding to offer an argument against acquiring the iguana, mostly because I was pretty sure the children would all fight for it.
At dinner, Tim had the privilege of listening to everyone’s arguments and weighing
the facts presented. I was right about the children all wanting the lizard. Our 10 year old had a long dissertation prepared, listing the many reasons we should adopt it and promising repeatedly that he would care for it. Our 7 year old read one carefully written sentence saying he wanted it because it was cute. Our 9 year old even drew a picture of an iguana on the bottom of her essay, painstakingly filling in all the scales on its back. Our 13 year old shared that the iguana would be a perfect compromise between the turtle she had been wanting and the snake her brother desired. Then I read my essay, pointing out my previous experience with an iguana that had grown aggressive and stinky over time. Afterwards, we all discussed the issue.
Ultimately, we decided against the iguana, and for now, against any pet. The kids are still a little upset because they felt they did not really have a chance against Tim and I, and they may be right, but the experience was a fun one, and hopefully valuable. And, hopefully, I will not regret teaching my children the art of debate, when they inevitably try to use it against me every time I say “no”.