"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Questions

(source)
"The unanswered questions aren't nearly as dangerous as the unquestioned answers."
I am a questioner.  I always have been.  I was the student that drove the teacher crazy, asking question after question (sometimes pertaining to the subject at hand, sometimes not)  Pre-kids, I worked in retail.  I worked my way up from part-time cashier to full-time manager in about 18 months, thanks in large part to my questioning nature.  I'm never satisfied with anything at face value ... I always need to know more.  I want to know what, I want to know when, I want to know WHY.   And when I do I get an answer?  I question that too.

Questions are how we make sense of the world around us.  Questions are how we learn... not just about our external lives, but about ourselves.  How do we really know how we feel about something unless we question it?

It should come as little surprise then that my children love to question as well.  I welcome and encourage any and all questions, including - or especially - those that people consider to be of a sensitive nature.  It makes no practical difference to me.  "Mommy, why is the sky blue?" and "Mommy, what does 'gay' mean?" will both receive the same amount of respect and attention.  An honest question deserves an honest answer, regardless of where it came from.

I'm thinking of questions today because of this.  Chaz Bono is going to be a contestant on Dancing with the Stars this season, and it has apparently caused a whole bunch of ruffled feathers.  Parents are publicly complaining, lambasting ABC, and boycotting the show.  People are worried that their children are going to ask questions, and this makes them uncomfortable.  I have a question for those parents, but first an observation or two:  1.  The great thing about television is that you always have the right to choose.  If you don't like the fact that's he on the show, you can simply not watch. And 2. The show is called Dancing with the Stars, not The Intimate Details of Chaz Bono's Private Life.  It's a dancing competition, not a documentary.  I'm not really sure why his gender is even at issue.

My question though is this.... If you watch, and if the issue of transgenderism is raised, and if your child asks questions (an awful lot of "ifs"), why are those questions a bad thing?  What exactly is the fear there?  It seems to me that we should be glad as parents that our children feel close enough and comfortable enough to come to us with their questions, of all sort.  They are going to ask someone their questions, and I would far rather it be me than Google,or a random child on the playground.  Even if you don't agree with Chaz Bono's lifestyle choices, your distaste doesn't make him cease to exist.  Your discomfort doesn't negate your child's prerogative to ask questions about something that he/she doesn't understand.   They have a right to be curious, and they have a right to an answer.  There is always something you can say, even if it's "You know what, that question really caught me off guard.  Let me think about how to explain it for a minute."  So often though, the answer they're looking for is really much more simple than we make it.  And if they need more information, they will ask!

Kids will ask questions.

Kids will sometimes ask hard questions (and honestly, explaining what "transgendered" means is far from the hardest question I've ever had to answer).  I think it's our job as parents to answer them openly, honestly, and simply... whether the questions are about blue skies and rainbows or gender and sexuality.



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