Answer With A Question

I was driving my kids to school yesterday and as we entered the parking lot a high school student was backing their jeep into a parking spot. The school they go to is Pre-K through 12th grade so there is a large discrepancy in ages. My oldest son Connor asked me, “How are high schoolers so good at backing their cars in?” I responded with a question of my own, “Why are you such a good hitter?”. He said because I practice at it. There’s your answer. Now I could have easily told him why, but instead of talking to him about the nuances of pulling a vehicle into its spot I allowed him to problem solve and answer the question himself. 

It is our responsibility to help our kids any way we can in their personal development. While there is nothing wrong with giving our kids a simple reply in this situation, I want you to think about this a little deeper. Too many times as dads we do things for our children that they could accomplish on their own because it usually gets done faster and the way WE want it. Over time I believe this will cripple a child’s ability to perform simple tasks and they will rely on other people to do things for them. This can also breed laziness and I personally don’t know any successful people who sit around and wait for something good to happen to them. They go out and make it happen.

Here are some reasons why answering your child’s question with one of your own can result in a positive outcome.

It Fosters Creativity

Instead of you telling them an answer, that big blob up in their head that we complain they don’t use enough starts to work. The hamster in their head wakes up from its nap, gets on the wheel, and starts to churn its little legs. Neurons start firing, synapses grow stronger, and learning happens! When you ask them a question, they might come back with something off the wall, but you are getting them to think. There is also a chance they might come back with an answer you haven’t ever thought of which can turn into a really cool conversation with your kid. As they grow older it seems like they want to talk to you less, so it is important to engage with them as often as you can when the opportunity arises.

It Creates Trust

The more we engage with our children at a young age, and they can see that we truly care about even trivial things, the more trust we build with them. Kids aren’t dumb. They are constantly watching us and picking up cues on how we will react in certain situations. This helps them test their statute of limitations when they want to ask for or take a risk on something. If we belittle them or blow up at the small stuff, they sure as heck won’t come to us for the big stuff. The scary thing to think about is who will they go to? Entertain even the most trivial things that you feel like is a waste of your time at the moment because it could mean a lot to your child.

The BIG GUY Did It

Whenever I think about answering a question with another question you know who I think of? Jesus. He did it all the time! When the Pharisees asked Jesus why His disciples broke tradition and didn’t wash their hands before they eat? Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3, NIV). He would also do it with a statement. On this occasion the Pharisees asked Jesus if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. His response: “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” (Mark 12:17, NLT).  

As a Christian my goal is to be an example of Christ to others so they can come to know Him, experience life with Him, and spend eternity in heaven. Jesus was great at responding to people which requires thought versus just reacting with emotion. I need to emulate what He did during His time on earth and one way is to communicate with others on their level. Another great way is practicing the fruits of the spirit (see below) to the best of my ability.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against these!”

Galatians 5:22,23 NLT

Here are some things to think about and apply to your life:

  • Engage in conversations with your kids as often as you can.
  • Take on a task together realizing that it may take longer with their help.
  • Focus on the end result: building your relationship with your child.

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