Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Teach your kids to ask questions

40 Reflections: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

No. 27

My son and I have good discussions. Great discussions. Hard discussions. I remember lots of knocking and kicking when he was in the womb, no doubt he was planning to buy a big Ford something-or-other truck, load his bike in the back and drive to Moab in Utah to ride. 

When putting him to bed at age 3, he would ask, “Why do you and Papa get to stay up?” We didn’t even curse when we replied…simply gave the parental response of you’re the child, we’re the adults. (Athough sometimes I wanted to be the kid long enough to take a quick nap, let someone make me lunch and not have to get up 30 times to pee.) The interrogating continued and on the second day of kindergarten, he asked WHY!? he had to go again…he ALREADY went to kindergarten!

As he got older, he asked to play baseball and soccer, then give archery a try and why not gymnastics and tennis. Maybe mountain biking and guitar? Unicycling sounds fun and the saxophone – let’s get one! Swimming grabbed his attention for a minute as did basketball and even church retreats. Chess was fleeting…too much sitting. Then came badminton, ping pong, rollerblading, skateboarding, Ripstick, and scooter-riding cross-country running, and frisbee golf. Check! Check! Check! Then there was the creation of fidget spinners, paracord bracelets, and dog leashes. He can hammer leather, solder, weld, sew, change the oil, build a bike ramp, pitch a tent, cast a fishing rod flawlessly, take stunning photos and edit the perfect video. It’s a lot…but he’s not afraid to try or risk failing.

Ironically, our discussion this evening was all about the things we “didn’t let him try”. For the most part, the list includes:

1. driving four-wheeled vehicles with a lot of letters like ATV, SUV, SxS, along extremely muddy trails, and

2. whatever his friends are doing that he’s not.

I get it. I remember wondering why everyone knew how to swim so well when I moved to the east coast. Of course, I couldn’t blame my parents…we lived in a land-locked state, and of course, the Rio Grande River is not known for water skiing.

As he entered middle and high school, his questions continued at home and in class. He admitted tonight that he hesitated to raise his hand in elementary school in fear of getting the wrong answer, he certainly saved all those questions for home!

I spoke to our son’s teachers at a conference in 8th grade and beyond and the one consistency they spoke of was he asked great questions. “Not the off-the-wall questions either” one teacher stressed. “He is content-driven.”

My son leans in the direction of calculated answers. His brain craves knowing why –  like a flower craves the sun. He completely bypasses wondering and simply asks, Why? How? When?

Raising kids who ask questions is a challenge. Thinking back, if I could tell my 16-year-old self one thing it would be ASK! Ask for help on the physics test, ask someone to go to prom, ask why the point was taken off on your essay, or how you can get your grade up. Ask if you can go to the Braves playoff game or skiing with a friend.  

We each had a cavern in our souls to be filled with answers…all we have to do is dig for them…and simply ask.

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