Monday, May 16, 2011

Have You Stopped Asking Why?

Why, Mom?
I have to laugh when I hear adults talk about how unreasonable children are. It's funny to me because I find children usually want to know the reasons, the justifications, the explanations for Everything. That sounds pretty reasonable to me.

Anyone who has ever had a conversation with a young child knows that the most important word to him is WHY. A child will ask why questions until his curiosity about a topic is fully satisfied. I have heard the adults in these conversations get irritated. I have heard adults respond with Just Because. Or Stop Asking So Many Questions.

When an adult complains about not being able to reason with a child, I find it's usually code for:

I don't have a good reason and this kid is calling me out on it. And it's annoying.

But doesn't this make the adults the unreasonable ones? Literally, these adults are saying that Reasons are not worth discussing. Maybe they have stopped asking why in their own lives, and it's easier for them if no one else asks why either. It's these adults who can kill curiosity in children. It's these adults who train children to accept that there are just some things that we do, for no good reason.

I don't expect my children to do anything without at least one good reason. And just because I said so is not a good reason. Neither is because I'm an adult and I know better than you. If I can't come up with a good enough reason to do something, then I don't expect them to believe it's an important thing to do. I want my children to grow up to continue to ask why until something makes sense to them. And if it doesn't make sense to them, I want them not to go along with it.

Think about if you have a good reason for everything you do today. Have you stopped asking why?

If so, why? :)


  1. I think this is so true. When I hear about unruly children, I immediately think that their parents must not be raising them right. If you help them to grow and learn vs. sitting them in front of a tv or gaming consoles, you will get a much better result. end of story.

  2. I agree with this post wholeheartedly. if my son asks why sometimes I have to really think. why? and sometimes it's a fear or issue of MINE. so having my child question also helps me question. as for unruly children, I am okay with that. children are unruly, and energetic, and spirited. and it's not necessarily because their parents aren't raising them right. they are born to be little explorers and some upsets are bound to happen. I really take issue with the concept that a child should be quiet and polite and obedient all the time. like a miniature adult. childhood is short enough, let them be unruly and enthusiastic and ebullient for a little while.


    The link above relates to all this. I linked it to share the humor, not necessarily the associated parenting philosophy.

    Sometimes, however, kids do ask questions to which the best answer is simply "Because that's the way it is." When my daughter asks "Daddy, why is this a rock?" I clarify to determine whether she means "Why does this count as a rock" or "Why is this thing called a rock?" When she means the latter, I have no better answer that she will tolerate beyond "Because it is." She doesn't have the patience to listen to the lengthy discussion about the concept of etymology and how the word "rock" could possibly have originated with the old English "rocc" from "stanrocc" meaning stone, rock or obelisk; or it could have come from the French "roque." Heck I bet I lost at least 50% of the adults who started to read this comment already.

    I'm perfectly ok with my daughter growing up accepting that some things just are what they are. Hopefully I can successfully teach her to live by the proverb "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the strength to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

    1. In some ways I agree, but I do think it is important for children to learn at a young age that adults are not infallible just because they're adults. I know you know what a rock is, but I think that if someone doesn't have a good explanation for something, they should just say so. If that's the way it is, then that's the way it is. At least children will be able to understand it better.

  4. I am fairly new to reading your blog, but I want you to know how much I love it. You make me really stop to think each day about how I will treat, interact, and react to my children. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  5. @Janna, Thanks for the comment. I do think it's important to be involved with one's children, but I also try not to assume "lazy parent" if I see an "unruly child." Like "baby foot fluff" said above, kids are loud, bouncy people. I try not to stifle that in my kids (if they are truly disturbing people, I will try to move ourselves to avoid that, rather than shush or threaten or punish), I am raising them to be true to themselves, and not to be ashamed of natural, childhood behaviors.

  6. @Dave O, Thanks for that video. I had a feeling that's what it was. My siblings love that video! I see what you mean about the rock question, and I know that was just an example to illustrate your point, but allow me to bounce back: Just because it is called a rock, doesn't mean she has to accept that. If she doesn't like the word, she can call it something else! As you pointed out, it already has other words for it (in different languages). Plus, it could be further clarified by what type of rock it is... I actually like your detour into etymology. If your daughter is happy with "because that's what it is," I'm not saying force a complicated explanation on her. But if she is not satisifed, she might enjoy the deeper discussion!

    You might think that I'm being silly, and it is a silly example, but it is just a way of showing that we don't necessarily have to stop at "It's just a rock because it is." Question everything. ;)

  7. @Nicki, Thanks for reading. And thanks for the feedback! It means a lot to me that anyone out there is getting something out of my words. :)