PARENTING PRACTICE


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WHY?

Have you ever heard a child ask, "Why?" Once they reach an age where the have a slight command of their vocabulary that is the word you will hear often. It may go something like this:
What is that man doing?

He's painting his house.

Why is he painting his house?

Because it needs it.

Why?

Because houses get old and the paint comes off.

Why does paint come off?

I don't know! Just be quiet please!
If the final answer given were to occur only once, that may not be such a sad situation. But, as you may guess, parents become weary of trying to answer question after question of a child's young inquisitive mind.

I had a nephew who turned out to be more than just a genius. Before he passed away with cancer he was a leading executive engineer for a computer firm. Sadly, I can recall times when he was young and I was visiting with his family. His father would scold him for asking so many questions. It bothered me at the time because the little guy's mind was simply accumulating knowledge.

Many times the questions a child asks are so simple for us to answer. They aren't hard questions for us but they are a mystery to the toddler. He or she is analyzing and comparing in a highly scientific manner, building the knowledge base on which his future will rest. What an opportunity we have when these children are asking so many questions. But, I hear so many parents who so thoughtlessly reduce their own children to a much lower level of learning than necessary.

Many children have given up on trying to learn by the time they reach third or forth grade. Their parents have turned them off at home and it takes an exceptional teacher to re-kindle that spirit of wanting to learn new things. Unfortunately there just aren't that many talented teachers around so most of these kids graduate from high school knowing as little as possible and having no desire to improve upon what they have gained.

The secret, as a parent, is to forget your pride and think like a child. Why is it so important to know why paint comes off a house after it gets older? Maybe you don't really know the answer. Wouldn't it be worth your time to take your child to a hardware store and ask someone in the paint department to explain the reason? Then you would both know the answer. Your child will probably forget all about the question by the next day but he or she will never be able to forget how much you cared to help them learn the answer to a tough question.

I recently turned 60 years old and took time to write my autobiography. I titled it, Being A Ten-Year-Old Six Times. Why? Because I wanted to re-live each ten-year block of time in my life. I don't want to ignore my childhood. It is a part of me. As we grow older we need to cling to our past and bring it along, into our present.

As you live through your twenties you should carry some of your teen years along with you. As you enter your thirties you should bring your teen years as well as the foolish twenties with you.

I recall a time when I had just graduated from college with my bachelor degree. It was a Saturday morning and I had loaded my truck up with trash and driven to the dump. I still recall standing in the back of my pick-up, looking at the other men nearby emptying their trash and thinking, "I am so much smarter than those guys. I have my college degree." It didn't take long for me to realize that I was way out of line. How could I know what degrees those other men may have held? Most of them may have had masters or doctorate degrees as far as I knew.

Pride is what keeps us from being the kind of person we need to be in order to help our children learn as much as possible. We think that whatever we are doing is so important that we can't take time for our children. It's important to remember that whatever questions they are asking, they are asking because it is important to them - just as important to them as whatever we are doing is important to us.

Oh, by the way, pay close attention to yourself and see how many times in the near future you ask someone, "why?"