Mama Mantra: You Have To Ask Questions

Posted February 23, 2022 by Prairie Wife - 6 comments

You have to ask questions.

The trick is, figuring out what questions to ask…

Those of you that have tweens and teens may already be rolling your eyes.

After all, they’re known to constantly respond with one and two-word answers to anything you ask.

Parents of preschoolers may be grimacing at the thought of the 20-minute wandering conversation that could come from just the “right” question.

But, trust me when I say asking questions is vital.

I’ve been thinking about how to write this post for months now.

It’s important to me to be respectful of my older kids, and our small community, but a recent incident still has me more than a little ticked…

At an intermediate school dance, three girls were stood up by their “dates”.

Some of them were told less than an hour before (by a friend of a friend of the boy) while some simply had the boy not show up at all.

I don’t think I need to explain to you how emotionally devastating this was for everyone. Not just the girls but their friends and family too.

SO MANY hurt feelings, and immediately the girls felt like they were the problem…that there was something about them that wasn’t good enough or worthy.

Their friends were left thinking about their hurt feelings and comforting them rather than enjoying their dance.

And the parents…

Well, they were left trying to explain in an age-appropriate way that sometimes people are jerks. That young boys aren’t always the most thoughtful and that the best thing the girls could do is try their hardest to enjoy what they could about the evening.

And of course, conversations were had about what an appropriate reaction to the boys would be when they saw them again at school.

When I heard about this situation my first reaction was anger at the boys…but as time went on, I couldn’t help but be more and more pissed at the parents.

A young teenage boy isn’t going to really understand all the emotional damage caused by this thoughtless act.

But the parents sure as hell can.

I would think that the boys would have asked parents for a ride to the dance at the same time they asked the girls.

Wouldn’t the boys have told parents they would be gone that night or even asked a parent to take them shopping for a new outfit?

Did the parents not think to say “Hey isn’t that dance tonight? Aren’t you supposed to be going?”

Did they truly have no clue at all that their son had asked someone weeks before?

I could keep on going with this but I think you get the idea.

In the end, I know we can’t change what happened.

These girls will keep moving forward, maybe a little wiser than they need to be at their age…but they have survived this and will be stronger because of it.

As always, I try and take a lesson away from these tough parenting moments.

And for me, the lesson was, we have to ask questions.

“Did you have a good day?” won’t work.

Instead try, “What was something that happened today that made you proud/happy/frustrated/intrigued?”

Skim the events calendar at school and ask your kids “Do you want to go watch the basketball game? Will you be asking anyone to the dance? Are any of your friends in the school play?”

If they talk about a kid being bullied at school use it to ask them thoughtful questions like, “Why do you think those kids acted that way? What would you have done if you were there? How would that have felt if it was you being bullied? What can you do if you are ever being bullied?”

If they love Minecraft (as much as it may kill your soul to do it) ask them questions, “Can you show me your latest world? Will you help me play this for a few minutes? ”

The earlier we start talking to our kids in an authentic and engaging way, the easier it will be to keep that momentum going as they get older.

We used the incident above as a teachable moment for our family. Talking to both our sons and daughters about respecting others’ time, being thoughtful about others’ emotions, following through on commitments, and communicating with us about events they’d like to attend.

Our kids know if it’s not on the calendar it won’t happen, and that rule has been an amazing way to continuously touch base about what they want to do and where their current interests lie.

You have to ask the questions.

And yes, even if you do, chances are you’re going to STILL miss something.

But, maybe you’ll catch most of what’s happening.

Or find out soon enough to help your child navigate a tricky situation in a more graceful way.

And maybe, your son won’t be the one standing up his date at the dance.

Photo Credit Skyla Lee Photography

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6 thoughts on "Mama Mantra: You Have To Ask Questions"

  1. Kiamichi says:

    Fantastic article! It gave me a great perspective about thinking about questions to ask. This not only applies to kids but also with asking other questions to parents, teachers & coaching staff. I know this is kind of an off shoot from where you started but it hit home with me as well. Thank you!

    1. Prairie Wife says:

      YES I love that you added this comment, it’s for sure true!

  2. An Old Friend says:

    I needed this today.. It’s so important with tweens/teens.. I struggle to stay in the forefront of this season in my daughters life with all its awkwardness and growth they are going through mentally, emotionally and physically. I strive to show her Dad cares and anything she says is worth listening to… no judgment. Curiosity a must! Yet, as parents, we stay up at night wondering if we are doing enough. Asking the right questions? I have to remind myself, some parents are physically there, while others are present. Those who are present fight our children’s battles oftentimes because the they are not with their kids.. Thanks for article!

    1. Prairie Wife says:

      It’s so complicated, isn’t it? I can appreciate how hard it is to work on those relationships with your daughters as I’ve had to figure that out with my sons. I will say that the more conversations you have the easier it gets. It’s as much about the trying as it is the end result!

  3. Erica says:

    I am so sorry for these girls, and I completely agree with all you said. You do such a wonderful job.

    1. Prairie Wife says:

      Thank you, I have no idea if I’m doing any of this right but I sure am trying!

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