If you’re a parent, or have been around kids and their parents, you know this question well. The infamous “why” is the epitome of curiosity and intrigue. The truth is though, it can also become extremely annoying.
As an observer to this situation you may have noticed parents all too easily dismiss their children with a quick, “just because sweety” answer. As a parent, perhaps you recognize providing this answer to your child, and now that I’ve pointed it out maybe you’re feeling a little guilty.
On the flip side, many of us grew up with the understanding that you just didn’t ask your parents why. You were to accept the fact that your parents knew best, or in some cases, were ALWAYS RIGHT, and you were not to disrespect them by asking them to explain their reasons to you about anything.
Ok, so maybe you’re thinking, “But Natasha, there are different “why” questions.” Sure there are. For instance, you have the “why is the moon white?” question versus the “why can’t I go to the movies with my friends unchaperoned?” question. Obviously the former is a factual based question soliciting an answer based on facts. The latter, to many, is considered a challenge of authority.
Well, in our household, it doesn’t matter what kind of question it is. If there’s a question, then it deserves an answer. Yes, even the stupid questions. And yes, there are stupid questions, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Oh, and yes, as parents we ask stupid questions too, as I will share with you shortly. In turn, sometimes you get an answer you weren’t quite expecting.
As parents, my husband and I have always encouraged our children to ask lots of questions and to never be satisfied with black and white answers. We’ve taught them that answers are not always simply right or wrong and more often than not, solutions are found in compromise. Crazy philosophy right? Well, it definitely throws my college students off when I propose to them that there’s no such thing as a right or wrong answer, and guess who taught them otherwise?
Whether the questions have to do with astronomy or writing or history or whether it’s a question of logic (that is, the logic behind your discipline or prohibitions), parents should be willing to answer either, and there is no need to believe that if they ask you to explain to them why they can’t go to the movies unchaperoned that they are disrespecting you.
By explaining my logic and reasoning and supporting my claim (you can’t go to the movies unchaperoned) with evidence, then I’m not only teaching my children that I have thought out my decision (which is a critical skill I want them to ascertain, particularly when they are being faced with issues of teen peer pressure), but I’m also opening up the floor to dialogue. Perhaps my answer about kids taking alcohol into the movie theaters will open up the floor for them to tell me something they heard in school or on tv.
Most parents of teenagers complain that they don’t have good dialogue or communication with their teens. Perhaps they try to talk to them, but the teen rolls their eyes, sighs deeply, answers with mumbles and checks out. Well, if you were doing that to them when they were little and full of questions, curiosity and intrigue for the world, then guess what? It’s learned behavior ladies and gentlemen, or as some would say, what goes around, comes around.
But I’m no expert, so don’t take my advice.
Anyways, as I mentioned earlier, yest there are stupid questions, and yes, I admit to asking them myself from time to time. Case in point:
I watched as my son walked across the living room towards his bathroom with my bottle of hairspray in hand. He caught the eye of curiosity I gave him as he walked by me and before I could ask he answered, “I’m gonna keep your hairspray in my bathroom mom.”
“Why?” Stupid question number one.
“Cuzzzzzz I use it.” Teenage boy answers with a hint of “duh” in his voice. Understandable.
“For what?” Stupid question number two.
“For my pubes mom, what else?”
Yeah, sometimes you get answers you weren’t quite planning for. But, then again, that’s what you get for asking stupid questions.
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