A Cynical Perspective on Cynics: Preventing Your Kid from Becoming One

Cynics have a place in society. They represent the devil’s advocate, and usually on the negative side of a debate. No matter how rosy something may look, their glass is half empty.

I’m not discussing Debbie the Downer types. Those folks need to be thrown out a window without a discussion about consequences. I’m referring to friends and family members who take note of a single dark cloud in an otherwise sunny sky. We still love them; they usually provide a heavy dose of reality, and they help to counterbalance anyone else who sees life through rose-tinted glasses.

What if you are the cynic and you start to witness your child espouse the same vein of thought? Like sarcasm, kids can’t fully comprehend the effects of cynicism. It represents a personality trait that is hard for them to understand. Rather, it’s a reflection of his or her parents’ behavior.

I’m not going to berate you for expressing dark thoughts or going negative, but here’s the solution if you hear your thoughts start to echo from the voice of the next generation: show both sides of the situation.

If the President, for example, tweets something that is condescending, and you disagree and say, “he’s such a freaking loser,” that’s not healthy. In the long run, if a parent disregards someone in authority, like the leader of the free world, who’s to say your son or daughter won’t respect your authority when he gets older? Maybe he’ll become cynical about politics as a whole.

Flip it around and share both sides. “The President did something wrong and inappropriate, son, but he’s entitled to his opinion.” You can also layer on a dose of optimism. “The good news is, Presidents before him were much more credible, so things will get better with time.”

Even if you grit your teeth and loathe anything the President says or does, it’s better than expressing cynical opinions. As a father, you’re introducing your son to the broader world.

Your son should be aware of the dark but try to shine some light on a difficult subject when you can.

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Jessica Speer

Author & Advocate for Kids and Families

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