My teenage sister recently began telling her friends that she would like to study law in college. I would like to help her become more assertive, confident, and have increased participation in citizenship. I want her to form her own opinions and have independent critical thinking. So I am nervous about how to approach this since I have such influence on her.

I don't want to just preach her my politics. I want to show her the value of participation in dialogue, discussion, and debate. Any ideas on how to help my sister build efficacy?

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    Using the socratic method could be a good starting point.
    – the_lotus
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 17:11
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    From your profile you appear to be a relatively recent college graduate in an unrelated field. Consider offering to introduce her to a friend who is a current or recently graduated law student who can actually give her helpful advice rather mansplaining at her.
    – Aravis
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 21:24
  • Agreed! Great advice. Unfair question ahead: Any idea on where I can find a mentor? Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 21:33
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    @GabrielFair You didn't have any friends who were law students or pre-law when you were in school? If not, check your network. Any of your Linked In contacts connected to someone in the law field? Are you a member of a professional, community, or religious organization that might also include lawyers?
    – Aravis
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 20:22
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    However, I wouldn't go around my network asking for a "mentor" for my sister. I was thinking more just someone who could have a cup of coffee or a Skype with her to tell her what to expect as a law student and give her some tips on how she can start beefing up her resume and extracurriculars to make a good application in a few years.
    – Aravis
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 20:23

1 Answer 1


In order to help someone to develop critical thinking, ask the right questions:

  • What's your thought on...
  • Why do you think...
  • What would you do, if...

Then actively listen. That means not judging her opinion or the way she expresses herself (Teenagers can be quite extreme and radical!), but accepting her position and continuing the conversation from there.

Act as advocatus diaboli once in a while, but take care not to "win" arguments or overpower her verbally. The goal is to help her grow, not show your superiority. Agree to disagree if necessary.

Just follow the current political, economic and social issues discussed on the media and work with these. If she is led to to some extra research on topics that spark her interest, even better and perhaps you will find that there are topics she already knows more about than you do. Acknowledge this and work on replacing the elder brother / younger sister relationship by something more equal over the next years.

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