Don’t Ask The Question When You Don’t Want The Answer

Parenting has its challenges.  I enjoyed seeing I am not the only parent that has erred by asking questions to which I did not want the answer.  My wife spent almost the entire toddler years of our older two children laughing at me and helping me to break free from the calamity I often now only witness in others.

For example:  Do you want to take a nap?  Are you ready to take a bath?  You want to jump up in the car seat?  You want to sit in my lap?

These questions are so innocent.  They are great opportunities for a toddler to gleefully participate in a wonderfully carefree parent child interchange.  There was only one small problem.  Every one of the well intended questions were answered contrary to this parent’s intended outcome.

Do you want to take a nap?  Well I was expecting a gleeful and maybe even a worshipful response, “Why yes father I would love to take my nap now.”  I can tell you I never got that answer.  Instead, every time I received a respectful, gentle, and innocent, “No”.

I have often commented that expectations of others are premeditated bitterness.  I always had an expectation for the questions I should not have asked.   When I did not get the desired response I became upset with my child for their genuinely frustrating answer.

My wife, would often smile and sometimes laugh, while she said, “You asked the question.  Now you get to live with the answer.”  She sometimes offered a brief tutorial on how to handle it which usually was as simple as state the outcome you desire and enforce it.  Don’t ask a question when you don’t want an answer.  Natalie lovingly helped me get through. (another blog post).

It seems like so long ago, as I actually was able to master this parenting faux pas.  Of course, hundreds of new challenges have replaced the one mastered skill.  Now I get to enjoy watching others step into homemade frustration.  From time to time I get the opportunity to share Natalie’s parenting tip and attempt to free parents from the frustration.

Question:  Do you find yourself frustrated with answers to questions which you have asked?

Have you ever noticed that you were asking question to which you really did not want the answer?

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