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This is the word that is thrown around a lot by authority figures, particularly teachers, parents and politicians.

Belligerent behaviour is no doubt disrespectful, and we should never condone such behaviour. But the key is when the term is also used upon us when we make logical arguments that are superior.

Parents especially, given their position of authority in having raised the child, feel they have the right to have an absolute stranglehold on the thoughts of their offspring.

Yet no one is always right, a logically deduced set of arguments should always take precedence over the weaker argument you currently have.

  • If you as a parent, limit your child’s ability to reason with you on the grounds of disrespectfulness, you discount your child’s ability to fully develop their logical mind.
  • If you present everything to your child as black or white, you fail to allow them to grasp most events in the world are in various shades of grey.

They lose the ability to realize that in all issues, no one is always right. Someone has to make a compromise. But in your case, you as the parent always wins. Imagine they take this ideology to the real world, and they impose their status as authority figures and always expect to be right.

Because you make them feel “you are always right”.

When your teenager progresses into a young adult, you will also lose the valuable chance to bond with your child as a friend, because when the logical faculties of both parties have developed, the argument that wins should be the one that is the most coherent, not the one that comes from the person with more authority.

Your child then learns to avoid arguments even if they truly believe in it. When I was younger, I debated with my parents regarding curfews, religion and the right to choose my own kind of education. There are some arguments I lost and accepted, because I recognized the presence of a superior argument, not because it came from an authority figure. I hated it in secondary school, when my discipline master forbade issues like ankle socks or centre parting hair because delinquents also sported such appearances.

That’s why I love professors. When they are wrong, they readily admit it. When they are right and you point out they are wrong, they will demolish your argument. I feel happy in such arguments, because there is nothing ever set in stone as long as your data is superior.

To all authority figures, introduce some flexibility in your thought process. Because the ever flowing stream eventually erodes the rigid rock.