Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Parenting Thoughts: Being Inquisitive

Very often, my boys will ask me questions which I find difficult to answer. Sometimes I just don't know. Other times, I have to consider carefully how I should answer and rephrase into simpler terms, short of any jargons. 

On our way home from school one day, my 4.5yo asked 'Who will protect the world?'. 

I was stumped!  

'It depends on what we are protecting the world from.' I answered, trying to buy some time while my mind started to process that question. 

I was excited that my merely 4.5yo is asking such a big question. What makes him think of that? Why is he concerned? How can I answer him in simple terms so he can understand and also intrigue him further? How much details should I go into? 

He went on... 'To protect the world from earthquakes and volcanoes that erupt! And how to save the people who live near these places? And from forest fires? What about the animals living in the forests when there is a fire?'

So we had quite a big discussion on our way home.... 

Then another day on an escalator... 

'How does the escalator work?'
'Are there escalators that go round and round instead of up and down?'  and a few other related questions which I can't remember now. 

Even my little Chip is also asking lots of questions, some of which I have to pause and think before I could answer. The other day while I was dressing him, 

'Why are elephants gray and why are pigs pink? Why do chameleons change colour?'

Umm... I think all I could say was 'Because that was how God made them'. But I am really not pleased with just explaining in this way. So I explained again in simple terms why chameleons change colours and the whole concept of camouflaging and blah blah... 

I can't say enough how much I love my boys' inquisitiveness. I know we must be doing something right in encouraging and fueling this hunger and curiosity in them. 

It is not just about the act of asking questions as all kids will be a little more curious as they grow. But it is the wide variety of questions they have and the depth they are going into on each topic that fascinates me. 

Hmm.. which brings to mind the whole debate I used to have with some former colleagues on vertical thinkers vs. horizontal thinkers. 

Vertical thinking is like digging or drilling deep down into the core of a problem. Thinking horizontally is coming up with new ideas by thinking expansively, in new and different directions. Horizontal thinking is akin to brainstorming. 

Gurus and theorists have argued about the relationships of the two processes, which is also aptly summarized by creativity theorist Edward DeBono - 

'Lateral thinking enhances the effectiveness of vertical thinking by offering it more to select from. Vertical thinking multiplies the effectiveness of lateral thinking by making good use of the ideas generated.' 

My boys are doing fine for their age. And I hope we will keep at it, whatever that we are doing so that one day they will grow to be both vertical and lateral thinkers. 


Anonymous said...


i left a comment here before saying that i'm one of those reading your blog who isn't married or a parent.

just wanna say (again) that you're doing a really incredible job - i'm sure your kids will thank you for the time and effort you've invested in educating them.

i can imagine how it'll put them in good stead, especially in university in future, being able to ask questions with such depth. i wish i had such opportunities when i was young! (then it wouldn't be so hard to think in depth in university now=/)

in any case, you must be really brilliant yourself to come up with all that you do with your kids and in the way you try to respond to their questions. truly admirable!

Domesticgoddess said...

hi there, thanks for taking the time once again to write such encouraging words. :) Like all parents, I am just trying my best with my kids and hoping for the best for them too. I am guessing you will feel and do the same in future with your kids too if you are already reading my blog when you aren't married or a parent. :P

By the way, I am curious to know how you get to know my blog and may i know how to address you? If you prefer to be anonymous still, I respect that. Or you can leave me a comment again with your name and I won't publish it if you prefer I don't. :) It is nice to know who my readers are.

Domesticgoddess said...

Hi Anonymous, thanks so much for your reply and for sharing with me. It is nice to know your name finally. :) I agree with what you said about the difference it will make, which is why I often tell myself to do my best.

By the way, is it Ok to address you by your initial in future? :)

Tiffany said...

One thing that constantly amazes me is the kind of questions that your boys ask. Even your 3.5 years old is so inquisitive.

Teaching our kids to be inquisitive is perhaps one of the most important thing that we can do for them. Most kids can follow instructions and answer questions but not ask questions of their own. You have done a real good job!

Anonymous said...

Hi Shirley,

Re-reading this blog post is simply refreshing.

I am deeply impressed with the kind of questions your children asked. I wished i could guide and Elaine to do likewise.

Honestly speaking, part of me is fearful that do not have the patience now the knowledge to cope with answering the questions to fuel learning.

Now I see the positive benefits and learning to embrace the unknown and enjoy the journey with my girls.

Thank you for your insightful sharing.


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