Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Parent, Teacher, Author

Which questions should I answer?

I have two women in my life who I really respect. One has daughters who are in high school and the other has daughters who are young married women. One thing that I’ve heard from both of them several times is this:

Whatever your kids ask, you need to answer them.

Yes, any question. Is this easy? No. Is it important? Yes. My friend who has daughters in high school says that she learned when they were younger that if she doesn’t answer, they quit asking. She knows they go on to ask their questions of other people, usually their peers.  My friend with older daughters tells about how her daughter’s friends used to come to her to ask all of the questions that their own parents wouldn’t answer! She was happy to be able to be a support to them. But, wouldn’t you rather your children get their answers from you than from someone else?

One of the things I think parents need to remember is that we can say something like, “Well, that’s not something I’ve thought a lot about. Here’s what I think off the top of my head….I might have some more to share with you about this later once I’ve had time to think about it.”  That way you give your child an answer and keep the door open, but also give yourself a chance to come back to the subject later once you’ve thought it through a little more.

The important thing to remember is that we want to keep communication open with our children. We want them to know that it’s safe to come to us and ask what’s on their minds.

2 comments on “Which questions should I answer?

  1. drshew
    March 3, 2010

    I think taking such a straightforward approach is really helpful. That way you open the door for your kids, and their not wondering, “Is it ok for me to bring this up?” I’m not saying that it’s not hard to answer some questions. It is. My 10 year old came home with a whopper the other day, and, honestly, I wasn’t sure what to say to her. But, it helped to fall back on the idea that all questions between us are safe. I think that goes a long way to keeping communication going between us.

  2. Laura
    March 3, 2010

    Before the start of each school year (that’s a whopping 2 now), we’ve reminded our daughter that there is no question she can’t ask us. We promise that she won’t get in trouble for asking us anything and (probably more importantly) that we won’t laugh at her. Now that I think about it, it’s probably something we need to remind her more often. Thanks, J, for the great post.

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