When I became a mother, I felt like I had to have the answer to all of my child’s questions. What if she thinks less of me when I don’t know the answer? If I don’t give her an answer, maybe someone else will and it’ll be the wrong one. What I have discovered since those panicky first years (and beyond) is that I don’t have to have all the answers. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know”. As a matter of fact, if we always have the answer, we give our children an unrealistic perspective about knowledge. Knowledge isn’t just knowing the answers to stuff, it’s knowing where to find the answers.
So now I may say, “I don’t know but I’ll find out”. Or even better: “I don’t know but let’s find out together.” And as our children grow older and more capable, the best thing we can sometimes say is “I don’t know, why don’t you look that up and let me know what you find”.
Do I always give these wise answers? No. I’m a creature of habit and I still find myself shooting off an answer in haste. But on the days when I’m thinking fast on my feet, I try to involve my child in finding the answers.
Many questions await our children in the world beyond our front doors. Let us use the opportunity now to teach them how and where to find the answers they will need.
Photo courtesy Microsoft free images