I am a parent of two young children. Parenting is difficult, uncharted territory, so I do what is natural to eggheads everywhere: read books on the subject. One particular book expounded the virtues of using the Socratic method to parent. This book argues that, if a parent can guide a child to the correct choice (or choices) by using questions, then the parent is teaching the child how to make good decisions, which is better by far than creating an automaton.
As a lawyer, I’m all for using the Socratic method. It should be easier for me than for other professionals, right? However, I was reminded of one of my law school professors recently–who warned us not to cross-examine family members–when the following conversation took place between myself and my 4-year-old:
Me: Why is the refrigerator open?
4-year-old: I don’t know.
Me: We can agree, can’t we, that we are the only people in the house?
Me: Are you eating something from the refrigerator, right now?
Me: I didn’t open the refrigerator. Do you agree?
Me: If I didn’t open it, and if you’re the one eating something out of it, do you really expect me to believe that you don’t know why the refrigerator is open?
I suppose having a lawyer as a parent means growing up being cross-examined…And, I’m going to argue that’s a good thing, for both of us!