2020 Questions “From the Heart” Series
As mentioned in the previous article, whether in the workplace or at home, how we communicate with one another will unite or divide a relationship. With open, safe dialogue, the What, Why, When, Where, Who, and How questions significantly support thriving and whole relationships. Yet, building healthy, whole relationships begins in the home where children are free to ask questions and learn the lessons of life and relationship. They are eagerly awaiting and anticipating how you will respond.
So, today let’s go back in time to our own childhood years. For isn’t that where it all begins anyway, and impacts the way we behave and view the world today? As you recall anticipating your parent’s reactions to your curious questions, what might have happened? What if their reaction didn’t work out the way you wish it did? What do you then do? As a growing and curious child, how would you ask the question in a different way? If that attempt doesn’t work either, what would you then do? Keep trying, go silent, or ask a friend instead? Most of the time we will more likely go silent or ask a friend. And going silent becomes a life routine. We also may grow up seeking answers in all the wrong places.
Children are experts at asking questions that strike the mark. Children are keenly adept at asking straightforward and even powerful questions that often shake up us “adults” and careen us out of our comfort zone. As parents, we often times fail to adequately or appropriately respond to our child’s innocent inquiries.
We are usually just “too busy” to even listen, let alone listen from the heart. This failure sends our children into the world ill prepared for life’s perplexing and potentially dangerous experiences awaiting them. Living in a “sound bite” society, we believe short and sometimes not-so-sweet answers are sufficient for curious minds and hearts—young and old alike. We grow up struggling to know where to find the truth and understanding we all need.
Sadly, here are ways parents typically answer their children when asked any number of what, why, when, where, who, how questions:
• “Shut up!”
• “Go ask someone else.”
• “Later, I’m too busy.”
• “That’s a stupid question!”
• “You are too young to know that.”
These responses even seem to be more evident with the more tough topics about lying, cheating, violence, sex, drugs. Parents often feel ill equipped when hit with questions on these topics. Sometimes, we just don’t walk our talk; and our kids clearly see it.
Although some questions need to be addressed with sensitivity and caution, we are not excused when offering curt and ambiguous responses. While young and insatiably curious, children particularly love to ask “Why?” So, parents and adults, be sensitive to the way you use these questions when someone comes to you for your opinion or input. You just may want to open the conversation with some of these questions that help you both learn more about each other:
• What would you like to know about [topic]?
• What might happen?
• What if it doesn’t work out the way you wish?
• How would you ask differently?
• What if that doesn’t work?
• And if that fails, what will you do?
The next article just may engage you both in “assessing” the what, why, when, where, who, how responses in the conversation. How is your listening heart so far?