“Running out of explanations…”
As parents we know that our children ask a lot of questions, many that we may not know the answer to and yet, we try. Questions like “why is the sky blue, mommy?” are common in early age and we try out best to answer and even research the answer. Thanks to libraries, dictionaries and now-a-days the internet we can find lots of really good answers.
When kids grow older questions can get harder to answer, especially since we tend to try to be honest with the answers. As a mom, I have never worried about saying “I don’t know, let’s research” when my daughter stumps me. . I know that this is not necessarily common and yet, for me it works and it helps my integrity and the trust my daughter places in me. Being able to say “I don’t know” is actually a sign of strength because, after all, who really knows everything? It might be my background as a historian, where I have learned that with new finding we sometimes need to adjust prior findings. That taught me to create phrases such as “as far as we know right now” or “based on research thus far” when providing the best answer I have. Scientist do the same, they can only answer based on what their research has been based on and conclusively proven thus far.
Connecting the scientific approach with parenting and our own philosophies about integrity, values, life, and more can be challenging, of course. It can be especially challenging when we are running out of reasonable explanations, those that make sense and are based on our experiences and research.
In today’s world, in the U.S., I find myself more and more at a loss of a reasonable, logical explanation. It might be because of my values and at the same time I cannot help connect it to my scientific background, to the common standards of decency…. To be precise; at a time in history where the nation is in turmoil, civil rights protests, COVID19 death, education going online, and so much more. Witnessing adult interactions and behaviors, even with as little exposure to TV as possible, I wonder “how do I explain this?” I wonder that because in my house, we don’t’ scream at each other when we disagree, we don’t call each other names, we don’t blame the other for our action, we use science to make decisions where appropriate and we have family and friends across the world. In that environment, I am not just facing questions from my daughter but from those across the globe as well.
How do I explain to my daughter or my family and friends across the globe that hundreds and thousands of people are dying in the U.S. and there’s little action to curb that? How do I explain the ideas of the U.S. as a utopia for all when borders are being closed and some people seem to matter more than others? How do I explain to my daughter the importance of being accountable for your actions if she sees and hears about adults (especially many in the spotlight) not doing that? How do I explain to my daughter the importance of civility and respect for all human beings when she sees and hears adult calling each other names and making fun of those that are different? How do I explain to my daughter that every human being is important and unique and needed when she sees more people of one ethnic group (Black Americans) being impacted by COVID19? How do I explain to my daughter the socio-economic differences between various ethnic and cultural groups?
The real question is: how do I continue to raise my daughter to be herself while being multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-national, deeply caring, respectful of all beings and nature in an environment when what she sees supposed leaders do contradicts that?
Even though I am never concerned about “not knowing” the answer I find myself being challenged far beyond in the current atmosphere in the U.S. Then I remember to look at those who embody these values, those ready to make their voices heard and I have hope – but then, I see how they are being dealt with… and I wonder.
Yes, I am still hopeful and no, I will not veer of this path. Yes, I know I can and am raising a magnificent being as so many others are doing and no, I will not succumb to desperation. I may run out of logical explanations when she asks reasonable questions to guide her, comparing the situation in the U.S. to other places she has seen, traveled to, and may desire to live in – yet, I will never run out of love and hope for her and humanity while guiding her by ensuring she is surrounded by those sharing our values and living by example. In the end, that’s the only explanation we may need: you are the answer.