People often comment how much my 23 year old son is like me. He (unfortunately for him) not only shares many of my physical traits, but also my sense of humor, just as I shared my Dad’s sense of humor.
Today, on the way home from a short family vacation, while discussing our political views of the world, it became obvious that we have another trait in common: the ability to take facts and figures and logic and generalize and overstate and argue a conclusion that is 100% wrong. Without getting into specifics, he turned my own rants and raves against me and took the finger I was pointing at various institutions and pointed it right back at me. The criticism hurt, because:
1) I recognized it was coming from my own overstating the impending disaster I see headed towards my children’s generation (most of which is caused by the colossal failures of my generation)
2) There was an element of truth in the hypocrisy he was accusing me of.
3) I recognized the same unshakeable self assurance in his flawed reasoning that I have been too guilty of over the years.
It’s the last one that hurt the most. I immediately thought of counter arguments that would shoot down the holes in his logic, but, recognizing my own voice in his, I knew he would have none of it, and he’d only dig in and argue his views more vehemently, and there’d be no convincing him, even when there was no other conclusion, he would never admit that he was wrong. I know this because I heard my voice in his, and I knew this is what I would do.
I’ve been told too many times by too many people that they’ve given up arguing with me, because I never lose. I have a nasty habit of twisting facts and figures and opposing viewpoints around until they support whatever B.S. I am selling.
My wife and I always tried to teach our children to think for themselves, and I’m proud that each of my three children have minds of their own. What frightened me today wasn’t that my that my son held an opinion different than my own, it’s that he was just as cock sure of his flawed logic and reasoning as I have been too many times over the years.
I could have pointed out the flaws in his logic. I could have argued with him until we were both blue in our faces. Instead, I just got quiet. I did bring it up much later, and got in some gentle jabs, and I kind of regret doing that. It really didn’t accomplish anything.
I want him to feel passionately about things. I want him to be able to defend what he feels and believes. It’s just that I don’t know how to teach him to hold on to these passions and when to stick to his guns and when to give it up, to let go, to admit defeat.
I have to admit, I really don’t know. I am 53 years old, and he is only 23.
That means he has another 30 years to admit he doesn’t know something.