“Mom, why can’t we hang from power lines?”

“But mom, where does power come from?”

“Mama, why can birds sit on power lines but they don’t get electrocuted?”

“Mom, the sun is really far, right?”

“Mom, why is the moon out, too? It’s morning, the moon should be sleeping, right? RIGHT, MOM?!?!”

This is just a typical car ride with my oldest son. Every day he says, “Mom, I have sooooooooooooo many questions today, right Mom?” Most of his statements are, in fact, followed by the question of “right, Mom?”, “right Dad?”. He is such a curious little creature.

For some parents the unending inquisitiveness of their children can drive them quite mad. But for me, I get it. I understand the mind of this sweet child. You see, I was a “why child” too. Actually, I am a “why adult” with an insatiable desire to learn and challenge the reasoning behind decisions. I am pretty sure I came straight out of the womb talking and asking questions.

Growing up, my parents didn’t understand how to raise a “why” child. I can’t blame them. To them it seemed at every turn I was out to disrespect or defy their authority. In all reality, I was a straight-laced rule follower. They never quite grasped that I simply needed to put the dots together on how decisions were made and rules established. Saying, “Because I said no,” or, “Because I am the parent,” was like repeatedly stabbing me with a thousand needles. I wanted—no, I desperately needed—to understand more. Why? Why? Why?

For those of us parenting toddlers through elementary age, the “why” stage can be exhausting. I mean, it is stinking difficult to try to explain why you can’t just go to the moon today or where tornadoes come from. And the complex questions never seem to cease.

BUT, there is something so beautiful in this stage. Your child simply needs to know how things work. When you get to a series of questions you cannot answer, do not want to answer, or are simply too worn out to answer, don’t rely on yourself. 

The first thing I like to do is flip the question back around. “Well, son how do YOU think we get to the moon?” I usually get the response of “I don’t know.” To which I reply, “OK, why don’t you take a few minutes and think of two ways you might get to the moon. Then let’s talk.”

This approach gives you a few moments to gather your composure and take a quick break. After you discuss their ideas, feel free to pull in other resources. Hand the question off to a spouse or grandparent.

Another option is to use technology. I learned this trick when my oldest was just a toddler and he kept playing with a space heater – super dangerous. Repeatedly I would warn him, to which he would respond “Why?” Finally, we watched a YouTube video of a space heater starting a house fire. He hasn’t touched one since. His little mind couldn’t understand why the space heater was dangerous—he needed to see it. In this case, technology for the win.

If you are raising tweens or teens—settle in. These children can seem defiant. Chances are they yearn for you to treat them like adults, even if you don’t feel they are ready. They are willing to take the punishment for their crimes but need to be walked through the decision-making process. If you won’t let them go to a party because you feel a friend or group could cause trouble, be upfront. The truth can be hard to swallow but I promise that your “why child” needs it and will return the honesty with trust. “Because I said so” is bound to divide and build walls between your relationship.

Lastly, make sure you recognize and honor this inquisitive gift. Your children have been blessed with a talent that can give them courage to speak out, an ability to stand upon their own beliefs, and the conviction not accept the status quo when something doesn’t seem right. Give their voices a platform in your home and encourage their critical thinking.

Ignoring or cutting them off will make your children feel as though asking questions is wrong. Instead, look for ways to point their questions toward useful learning. You have been given the responsibility of cultivating an analytical mind. It can feel overwhelming but make sure you don’t miss or squash this wonderful strength. 

You may also like:

The Secret No One Told Me About the Toddler Years is How Much I Could Absolutely Love Them

5 Things I Say To My Kids That Change Our Dynamic at Home

50 Questions To Ask Your Kids Instead Of Asking “How Was Your Day”

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Jess Loseke

I am Jess, a passionate entrepreneur, wife, mom and Jesus follower. My husband and I own and operate a small family business and are busy raising two wild and loving little boys, Theo and Brooks.

To the Extended Family That Shows Up: We Couldn’t Do This Without You

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Family visiting new baby in a hospital room

This picture—my heart all but bursts every time I see it.  It was taken five years ago on the day our daughter was born. In it, my husband is giving her her very first bath while our proud extended family looks on. It was a sweet moment on a hugely special day, but gosh–what was captured in this photo is so much more than that. This photo represents everything I could have ever hoped for my kids: That they would have an extended family who shows up in their lives and loves them so deeply.  That they would have grandparents,...

Keep Reading

You’re Almost Grown, But You’re Always Welcome Back Home

In: Kids, Motherhood
Teen in room studying with computer and smartphone

Dear child, In the days before you could walk or talk, there were times when you would wail—when my rocking and shushing and bouncing were seemingly futile—but it didn’t matter. Each day and night, multiple times, I always picked you up and welcomed you back into my arms. As a toddler and a preschooler, you had some pretty epic meltdowns. There were times when you would thrash and scream, and all I could do was stand by and wait for the storm to blow over. Eventually, you would run to me, and I would welcome you back with a warm embrace....

Keep Reading

No One Warned Me About the Last Baby

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding newborn baby, black-and-white photo

No one warned me about the last baby. When I had my first, my second, and my third, those first years were blurry from sleep deprivation and chaos from juggling multiple itty-bitties. But the last baby? There’s a desperation in that newborn fog to soak it up because there won’t be another. No one warned me about the last baby. Selling the baby swing and donating old toys because we wouldn’t need them crushed me. I cried selling our double jogger and thought my heart would split in two when I dropped off newborn clothes. Throwing out pacifiers and bottles...

Keep Reading

Parents Are Terrible Salespeople for Parenting

In: Kids, Motherhood
Tired mother with coffee cup on table, child sitting next to her

As the years of fertility start to wane, many of my childless peers are confronted with the question, “Should I have kids?” With hesitation, they turn to us parents who, frankly, seem overwhelmingly unhappy. They ask sheepishly, “Is it worth it?” We lift our heads up, bedraggled, bags under our eyes, covered in boogers and sweat and spit up, we mutter, “Of course! It’s so fulfilling!” It’s like asking a hostage if they like their captor. Sure, it’s great. We love them. But our eyes are begging for liberation. Save me, please. I haven’t slept through the night in years....

Keep Reading

Soak in the Moments because Babies Don’t Keep

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Roller coaster photo, color photo

I love marking the moments, the ones that count—making a note and storing them for memory. But I often miss out on them when it comes to our oldest. ⁣ ⁣The day he wanted to be baptized, I was at home with another kiddo who was sick. He called me from church excitedly, emphasizing he was ready and didn’t want to wait. I couldn’t argue with that, so I watched him go underwater through videos my husband and sweet friends in the congregation took. ⁣ ⁣On the day of his fifth-grade graduation, we found ourselves at the pediatrician’s office. Instead...

Keep Reading

Sometimes a Kid Just Needs a Sick Day

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy outside, color photo

My middle son stayed home from school today. He said he was sick. I’m not sure that is the truth. I was lucky enough to have a mom who was an amazing caretaker, especially when you were sick. She pulled out all the stops. A cozy clean space to be, a thermos with ice cold juice by your side, Mrs. Grass’s soup, and Days of Our Lives on the screen while she tidied up the house. It was the best feeling in the world to be home and cozy with my mom when I was sick. It felt cozy and...

Keep Reading

Sometimes We Need Someone to Just Sit With Us in Our Struggle

In: Kids, Motherhood
Sad woman sits on floor, black and white image

Early this morning, I told (yelled is more accurate) my sons to get up with the same furious ferocity I use every morning when I realize they should be ready to go, but are still unconsciously snoozing away. One son lazily said, “I’m up, Mom” (even though he was very much not up). The other son, who typically has no problems getting up, had overslept and immediately freaked out, thinking he would be late to school. He proceeded to have a mini-meltdown from the dark recesses of his bedroom. That overflowed into the hallway where I found him lying face-down,...

Keep Reading

Daughter of Mine, Do Not Let the World Extinguish Your Fire

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young daughter, color photo

Daughter of mine, I see the fire behind your eyes. Do not let it die. Daughter of mine who runs wildly and loves freely and whose anger is always whipping silently just under the surface like a pilot light, ready to ignite with one tiny spark. Do not let it die. RELATED: There is Wild Beauty in This Spirited Child of Mine Daughter of mine, one day you will become a woman, and the world will try to steal you and mold you and tell you who to become. Do not let it. It will try to fit you in...

Keep Reading

God Chose Me to Be the Mother of a Wild One

In: Kids, Motherhood
Woman holding child on the beach, black-and-white photo

It was just another typical fall morning. There was a time change so you were a little extra sleepy (also known as grouchy) but nothing too out of the ordinary. In a split second, that all changed, and the reality of what it is like to live with an unbelievably relentless little human set in like never before. I sat on your bedroom floor, laundry scattered all around, and literally watched my tears fall to the ground. I was on my knees. Physically on my knees just begging you to stop or begging God to give me patience. I don’t...

Keep Reading

I’m Raising a Fearless Daughter

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little girl on playground

Imagine you are at the playground with your kid(s), and you look over to see someone else’s kid launching themselves off the tallest tower on the entire playground. You feel your heart stop for a second, you suck in a sharp breath. You think to yourself, or maybe you even say it out loud, “Oh my gosh!” That kid—the one who is always finding the most dangerous way to do literally everything? That’s my kid. Truthfully, that’s both my kids, my youngest just isn’t tall enough to join in on the real danger yet. RELATED: Raising a Wild Child Is...

Keep Reading