“Mommy, what causes snowfall?”
This seemingly innocuous question from my best friend’s 6-year old son sent her into panic mode. By her own admission, she started to sweat, and her lips started to quiver as she fumbled for words. Surprising, right?
That sounds more like a reaction to being asked to give a speech in front of 500 people, doesn’t it? Even more surprising is the fact that this is much more common than you think. Over the years, hundreds of parents – I exaggerate not – have spoken about this issue.
So, What Is The Underlying Cause?
The answer is that we put parents on a pedestal. Don’t get me wrong, parents are worthy of all the respect and praise that they get; they thoroughly deserve it. I am a parent myself and I would never dream of saying anything against parents, but let us get this straight – parents are not Gods. They are HUMAN so please hold them to that standard.
Of course, part of the blame lies with parents themselves. They cannot bear to be seen as anything less than omnipotent and omniscient in front of their children. It would be unfair to pin the entire blame on them of course.
Children consider their parents to be of the same ilk as Superman, therefore it is totally understandable that parents can sometimes get a little carried away. However, I want to make a few things crystal clear with this post.
• Parents Are Human!
Yes, this needs to be reiterated. Every parent has blood flowing through their veins, a beating heart and all that. They are not superhuman or Godlike. The limitations that apply to human beings apply to them.
• It Is Alright Not To Answer Each And Every One Of Your Kid’s Questions.
Sure, in a quixotic world, you would have the answer to every question, but we do not live in a quixotic world. Next time your child comes up with “Mom, why doesn’t the sky fall off?”, or “Dad, why does the rainbow have colors?” and you do not know the answer, don’t fret.
You don’t know all the answers, I don’t have all the answers – no-one does! If you know the answer, explain it to your child. If not, just reply with something along the lines of “I don’t know either, let us find out together”. This will not only help your child understand from an early age that you don’t have all the answers, but it will also make them realize that you don’t have to have all the answers.
As an added bonus, you will get to do some research together with your child and also learn something new. In a nutshell, don’t be afraid of saying “I don’t have all the answers”.
• Strike The Right Balance Between Answering Questions And Knowing Where To Draw The Line
Say, your 8-year old comes up to you and asks how he/she was created. It would not be prudent to get in-depth and give them a biology lesson years in advance.
Either think on your feet and come up with something that will keep your child satisfied (white lies are not always bad), or just use the magic phrase: I don’t have all the answers. Basically, you need to understand that while it is a good idea to be open with your child, you need to take age into consideration and behave accordingly.
• Communication Is The Lifeblood Of A Parent-child Relationship
I cannot emphasize this enough. You have to communicate. Sometimes, some people get the wrong idea when I talk about parents not having all the answers. Not being able to answer your kid does not equate to not communicating.
There is a difference albeit subtle and that will make all the difference in determining how successful you turn out to be as a parent. Make special time just to communicate with your little one. After a few years you will thank me for it, I promise you that!
• You Were The Same Age Once Upon A Time – Never Forget!
Certain parents seem to get very irritated when their kids ask questions they cannot answer for whatever reason. Whenever this happens, please step back and take a moment to remember that you were the same age as your child at one point in time.
You were equally struggling to find answers to what seemed to be fascinating mysteries. Do not berate your child, no matter how silly the question may sound. Develop a bond of love, trust, respect and understanding.
To sum up, as a parent, I don’t have all the answers. Neither do you. No big deal. Try to be as honest and open with your child whilst also respecting their age. Use communication as a means to strengthen your bond with your child. That is all you need, really.
“Mommy, what causes snowfall?”
“I am not really sure dear, it could be because of the clouds bursting. Let us find out together”