With my kids, the best conversations always happen in the car while we are on our way somewhere. And recently we've been listening to books on CD in the car (which is so lovely, and so restful for mommy while she is driving), which tends to make them not talk (which is lovely when talking = fighting with each other). I had forgotten about the wonderful conversations, however, and it wasn't until today we didn't have a new CD in the car that I remembered what we were missing.
Hypatia was talking about fairies, and I was honestly only listening with maybe 1/4 of my attention. Then Carbon got really mad.
Carbon: "Mom, she keeps telling me about these fairies, BUT FAIRIES DON'T EXIST."
Hypatia: "Yes they do, and if you don't believe in them they'll GET YOU."
A horrible sibling fight was about to ensue. So I intervened with a question:
"Carbon, can you prove that fairies don't exist?" (Empiricists out there, forgive me for asking for proof of something's non existence, which I do realize is incorrect)
He replied that, yes, he could. When challenged as to how he was going to do that, he said he would travel all over the whole world and check everywhere.
Another question for him: "Can you really do that?"
No - no he cannot.
Next I asked Hypatia if she could prove that fairies DO exist. She claimed that she could, on the basis of her being a "fairy expert". So I had to point out that "take my word for it, because I'm an expert" just isn't adequate proof.
So, in fact, no - she cannot.
And that led me to my point, that she could believe what she believes, and he can believe what he believes, and each should respect the other's beliefs while at the same time not feeling compelled to share them.
Perhaps we will need to turn the CD off every now and then, to allow space for these conversations, since captive audiences make for better talks.