A couple of weeks ago, I was having a conversation with other moms all of whom have school aged children. One was talking about her 4 year old son and how he constantly questions her.

Why are we doing this? What does this mean? Why is this the way its done?

She was expressing how exhausting it was to be continually questioned but she also thought it was interesting because it made her really stop and think about the why behind each action. It was pushing her to reassess certain aspects of her life.

Her husband ‘s response to her son was more along the line of “because I said so” or “because that’s the way it’s done”. Her response was more like “huh, you bring up a good point”.

Having not reached this stage, I expressed how great I thought it was that her son was really trying to understand the world and think through problems critically. But I could also see how exhausting it would be to continually be subjected to questioning, re-evaluating, and thinking critically about even the most simple actions we do.

I then asked if he questioned his teacher as much.

Her answer was “No, thank God!”. All of the other moms in our circle were like “Oh that’s good”. I really got the impression that it’s ok for her son to question her but to have him constantly question a teacher would be an undesired behaviour.

My response was more along the line of “that’s too bad” or “maybe he’ll start questioning his teacher once he’s a little more comfortable”.

There’s no reason to be embarrassed or discourage a child from questioning anyone or any part of their reality. Questioning a teacher may be tough for the teacher. It may make the relationship a little more strained. It may even result in more parent-teacher meetings. I don’t know.

A good teacher will want to help a child learn. The only reason they wouldn’t want a child questioning them would be to make their days easier. No judgement here…I wouldn’t want 30 kids continually asking me why on everything either.

My point is that if my child is unsure of something then I want her to ask questions. I want her to be curious enough to delve into it a bit further. I want her to be confident enough in herself to feel that she can ask questions without fear of looking stupid.

I also believe this applies not only to parenting but also to me and other adults I see. I had a conversation with a coworker a couple of days ago at lunch. She has been involved in high level meetings over the last couple of months in her new role. She was saying that there are times in those meeting where she wants to ask questions but isn’t sure she should because it’s outside of her area of expertise and she has a fear of looking stupid. My response to her was advice my former boss had given me when I entered the workforce: If you’re invited to the meeting then you’re invited to speak.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to look dumb in front of others (if that is your fear). Investigate further if you don’t know.

Hailey is transitioning to a new day care this week. We’ve done a couple of half days. She leaves at the end of lunch while the other kids are settling into their cots for a nap. A couple of times now, she’s gone over to an empty cot and tried to curl up for a nap.

On one hand I’m thinking this is great. She seems content to just go along with the routine already established. But the other part of me is screaming at the top of my lungs (inside my head) “DON’T CONFORM!”

I don’t want her to blindly follow. I want her to question why things are done and if it makes sense for her.

I can see how easy it is to want to encourage her to follow. I understand that not being questioned constantly is much easier. But what happens down the road? You have a child that is terrified to raise their hand in class (that was me). You have a department manager sitting in a meeting wondering if she has the right to express her opinions to her peers.

I will leave you with three thoughts.

  1. I can see the need to follow being like trying something on to see if it fits. Following can be a way of being open to change so long as there is a conversation that’s going on inside asking “is this really for me?”
  2. Encouraging your child to ask questions will reduce their fear of looking stupid later in life. If they are supported now and know it’s ok to question what’s going on then they will continue to know it’s ok to question facts, opinion, and everything later in life.
  3. One of my absolute favourite audios ever is by Earl Nightengale called “The Strangest Secret”. If you haven’t heard it you need to. It’s a humorous audio from the 1950’s that really makes you wonder what we’re doing as a society when it comes to blindly following your peers without question.

Photo by DucDigital