One of our favorite ways to engage in the kiddos in seeking understanding is to answer their questions with… more questions.
One of the best parts of being a kid is that if something is stirring in that little head, and someone that they trust is in close proximity… then a question is certainly on the plate. And if the conversation is flowing, then the questions will keep coming, and the understanding will grow deeper and deeper. The questions that they ask will get tougher and tougher.
If your kids are young enough, then there is still this belief in them that you as the parent know just about everything. The older the kids get, there seems to be this tendency to look at mom and dad with what we call ‘the blank stare’. It’s that look that lets you know that as a parent, you don’t know anything. Eh… it happens.
That is where the art of asking questions with questions is something that, if nurtured over time, will not only get them thinking deeper for themselves… but in the older kids… teaches them that you do trust them to figure things out. It will also help you to teach them to be accountable for their choices in that when they come to you seeking justification for something they know they shouldn’t be doing… you can always push back on them with another question… and then give them a blank stare in return (score!!!)
A simple question like, ‘Why is the sky blue?’ can go off into a deep scientific explanation of atmosphere, the bending of light, moisture in the air and the like. This may be the true answer… but for an 8 year old… something of the mystery and awe of creation is lost in the technical details.
It’s much more interesting to respond with a, ‘that’s a good question… why do you think it’s blue?’ Try it sometime, and see what happens.
What we are aiming for here is conversation and understanding not just of a blue sky, but of the way in which our young people observe the world around them.
Jesus often times answered questions with questions (see the Luke 10 story of the coin and taxes).
Remember that old proverb that says if you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day… but if you teach him how to fish, he will eat for a lifetime? It’s the same thing with kiddos. You can teach them what to think… but how much better is it if you teach them ‘how’ to think.
The older they get, the more intellectual and spiritual the questions and conversations will be… if you teach them ‘how’ to think primarily over ‘what’ to think.
It is a dance… a give and take if you will… of questions and answers. In answering questions with questions, you as a parent will be challenged to keep your eyes open for the real teachable moments of life. In answering questions with questions, you as a parent will have the opportunity to take what would have been a ‘short answer period’ and extend it into a longer conversation with your kid. Don’t miss it for yourself… and don’t miss those moments especially for the little ones you love so much.
After all… kids love to show you… just how smart they are.