I understand there is a time for children to mind their parents, no questions asked. When a “No.” “Why?” “Because I said so.” routine needs to unfold. However, for the majority of times our children question us out of sheer curiosity, it is my humble opinion that we should explain it to them.
Last year we visited a local fire station on Memorial Day, they had a fire truck and an ambulance out for the children to go inside and look at. Our almost 3 year old was exploring the back of the ambulance when this couple and their what looked like a four year old joined us. She started touching things her father didn’t want to her touch. When she asked him “why not?” (in what seemed like a genuine she’s-young-doesn’t-know-any-better fashion) he kept responding with “I don’t want you to, that’s why not”. He never gave her a reason. At that age, even a simple explanation would do. Something like “it’s fragile”, “it’s important”, “you don’t want to break it”, “it helps save people’s lives”. Really anything is better than “just because”.
I believe expounding for your children is beneficial for two reason:
1) It helps the child understand the world around them. Children are very new to this earth, they are not born knowing things. Telling them why you do/do not want them to do a certain thing will help them learn and hopefully remember next time. The most obvious example that comes to my mind is telling your child not to touch something hot. Doesn’t mean they won’t touch it anyway, but then they at least see mommy or daddy really does know what they’re talking about! They said something would happen and it happened when I didn’t listen to their advice! Who would have thought?
It also opens the door to explain something further. I don’t mean to pick on the little girl’s dad, but he could have described what the things he didn’t want her to touch were and did. If he didn’t know, he could explain what an ambulance is for and why that makes it important to keep everything how it is. Unfortunately for her, she didn’t learn anything besides “just because I said so”.
2) It will help not frustrate them. Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. As adults, we have more understanding and can usually put two and two together, or are wise enough to not ask “why” from our boss, police men, etc. Children don’t know a lot of things due to their age and immaturity. They haven’t had years of trial and error to gain wisdom like adults have. Constantly being shot down when wanting to learn would be very frustrating. In this case, a four year old is probably just curious about things she’s never seen before.
Questioning is not always a form of defiance to our authority. It can be, we as parents need to learn the difference between a genuine “why” and a you-are-so-stupid “why”. One deserves clarity, the other deserves extra chores.