Manifesto of a parent

British philosopher, historian, mathematician, and social critic Bertrand Arthur William Russell is one of the most influential and intellectually diverse thinkers in modern history.

Russell had certain themes which he loved to espouse – the purpose of education, the value of uncertainty, the importance of critical thinking and the gift of intelligent criticism. On December 16, 1951, his manifesto on teachers was published, linking his favourite themes to the responsibilities of teachers.

Some of his points are also valid for parents. Let us discover what his beliefs are on the responsibilities of teachers and think about how they impact on us as parents.

When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.

It is easy to use our authority to suppress dissent, especially on a young child. However, as your children grow older, this strategy doesn’t work anymore. Explain why your way or your decision is correct and base it on logic and/or moral values. This way, children will understand why you made the decision and will come to respect you more.

Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

Sometimes, your child has an idea that may be strange or really different. Do not dismiss them immediately. You should ask questions why they came up with this idea. If it is wrong, explain why it is wrong. Or else, ask questions to make them think harder. After all, a lot of ideas were initially opposed but was eventually proved correct.

Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.

Be truthful at all times – you will realise that the truth will reveal itself eventually. You might even lose the respect of your children if they realised that their parent had lied to them. Be a great role-model to your children and they will grow up correct.

These are just three points that we want to highlight. It is indeed clear that if we live by these three points, we will turn out to be great parents and good role models for our children.