Debating with your kids is almost inevitable. Many children love a good debate and are even willing to engage in a mediocre one.  As a parent,  you are probably already aware of this fact.  The question is: Should you stop these conversations immediately or engage with your son or daughter?

Unfortunately, the answer is a very wishy-washy, “It depends.”   It would be easier if there was only one definitive answer. But there will be times when you as the parent will want to simply call a halt to the debate and other times when engaging with your child will be appropriate and advantageous. The key to remember is that the decision belongs to you and not to your child.

If the choice to debate or not is yours, Mom and Dad, what should you consider in making the decision?


• Perhaps the first thing to take into account is the time it will take to have this discussion with your child.  A debate is not typically over in 2 or 3 minutes.  If there is no time constraint and if you feel dialoging is legitimate we would encourage you to do so.

• Several things can be learned through engaging in a debate.  Your son or daughter can practice the art of listening to another’s perspective.  In addition, your child has the opportunity to develop the skill of presenting his or her position in an intelligent, unemotional manner.


• When is debating a bad idea?   Besides having an inadequate amount of time to debate the merits of a decision you have made, you might also choose not to engage if the debate is for sheer sport or because of boredom.

• If you determine that a debate is inappropriate, you do not need to feel guilty about putting a halt to the conversation.  You are the parent.  But try to remember, debating can prove beneficial and might a valuable learning experience for your child.

Have you ever found yourself in a debate orchestrated by your child?