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Does Questioning Mean Disobedience?

Published on: 29 October , 2017 | Kalpana Manivannan

It’s important to allow children to question the norms no matter how controversial it may sound; Just because we never questioned our parents and took it up as stated doesn’t mean our kids need to follow suit. Only in an environment where children feel safe, secure and get unconditional love, will they push boundaries and have the courage to ask uncomfortable questions. Where else can they voice their opinions so freely without garnering judgement or criticism? Where else but home? Asking questions have long been associated with disobedience in our society and that's kind of hard-wired in our system. So, basically we are a society that thinks compliance means obedience and an obedient kid equals successful parenting. As soon as a child questions certain norms that we had blindly followed when we were kids, we feel threatened; and if the child persists then it is termed plain and simple disobedience. Yes, it would be easier if our kids just listened to whatever we say without rhyme or reason; but don’t we want our kids to be curious, inquisitive and thinking people or would we rather just want mindless compliance? (I know, sometimes mindless compliance is bliss; but you know what I mean here). I personally know kids who just comply to avoid arguments and say things that would be acceptable and “politically correct” even though they don’t personally agree with it nor have any conviction in what they are saying. I definitely don’t want that in my kids. So when my kids ask uncomfortable questions or question my decision, instead of feeling anxious or flustered I think, maybe this just means that I have given them that freedom to express their thoughts, that comfort level to speak their mind and that conviction that they wouldn’t be judged or taken amiss. Their questions range from heavy topics like following traditions, cultural beliefs and faith in god to lighter ones like their comfort vs. dress codes, family rules, bed-time etc. etc. There are times when I had wondered if letting them speak their mind was a right decision and should I have probably said “Do it as I say” or “Because I said so” rather than answering all their questions diligently? Because that would have been much easier to do than to answer their why’s; “but why should I” or “why shouldn’t I”. But now, being a little older and probably just a little bit wiser, I know that it was the right thing to do. Not easy, but right. Now, I have learnt to take pride in my kid’s uncomfortable questions. I think we should be proud if our kids come to us with such questions and arguments that catch us unawares. If we could give convincing answers or counter arguments then well and good; but even otherwise it helps to have open ended discussions and debates which allow us to hear each other out and bring our opinions to the table and be able to present our side of justifications. It is never easy for people belonging to two different generations to agree on everything. It is never going to happen, no matter how open-minded and forward-thinking person you are. Every generation feels they were not understood by their parent’s generation. It’s not going to be any different now between our kids and us. We can kid ourselves by thinking otherwise, but we will wake up soon enough, because that’s how it is. So not agreeing to their views doesn’t mean we can’t have open discussions and healthy arguments with our kids. We must. And from time to time, as and when a situation presents itself, we should take the opportunity to discuss, debate and even agree to disagree, if need be; but definitely talk and not shy away or avoid confrontations. This also moulds kids to speak up when needed and not be a push-over even as adults. There are so many issues popping up around us, so many good, bad and ugly happenings; things we might not feel comfortable discussing with our kids. If not through us, they will get to know about these things through media; so whether it's about issues of hate crimes, racism, sexual abuse, climate change or anything else under the sun, we must be able to talk to our kids. We may not always have the right answers but we must allow the thought process often loaded with contradicting stand-points, to take place in the safe confines of our homes. In all probability, our children may not even be seeking answers; they might just need a sounding board, a safe haven to bring out their anxieties, confusions and insecurities. All we need is to just provide that space for them. The Ultimate #BlogChallenge
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Kalpana Manivannan

A dreamer. A Home Chef. An Amateur painter. An Urban Farmer. I live in Chennai, India, with my wonderful husband and two lovely kids. I am a teacher by profession and a blogger by choice. I have a lot of varied interests. Apart from being an avid reader, I love gardening, painting, cooking, travelling and jotting down my random musings, which keeps me wonderfully busy. My recent interest in homesteading seems to be taking up a lot of my dream space lately. Living in a beautiful farmhouse surrounded by fruit trees, a vegetable garden and lots of flowering shrubs is what I dream of. With all this craziness going, I am happiest being a mother and a wife as my world revolves around my family and their love is what makes the world go round for me.

Geethanjali 2017-10-31 08:52:44

Very true kalpana. You have a knack of seeing things from a different perspective which also helps the rest of us expand our minds and tackle a problem from a different angle till it we realize that it never was a problem but only a grand opportunity to explore life ! Kudos to you! :Looking forward to more such articles!

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Geethanjali 2017-10-31 08:52:44

Thanks so much for such a beautiful comment. Means a lot coming from an accomplished and published writer like you geetha.

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Mani 2017-10-30 20:43:04

Good article on letting kids discuss without any inhibitions

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Mani 2017-10-30 20:43:04

Thanks Mani. Well written by Kalpana! :)

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Ms. Geo 2017-10-30 19:57:15

Very well articulated! If questioning was disobedience, then we all have been tagged as 'disobedient' at some stage. But as a grown up now, I feel that tag is to be proud off as it is the very evidence for our thoughts and perceptions being formed in the right way. And questioning by students even in school needs to be encouraged is what I feel. We just need to teach them how to politely put forth their opinions and thoughts without hurting others. Standing up for oneself is something at times I feel even we teachers lack. We must also learn to voice out if need be. We will be happy and satisfied at the end of the day for standing up for the right we believe is right. We must facilitate for our children to taste such happiness.

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Ms. Geo 2017-10-30 19:57:15

Exactly Jumie. So so happy to read your wonderfully detailed feedback on my post. Loved reading your comment. Thank you so much for taking the time out to read and comment.

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Kalaivanihemanth 2017-10-30 19:17:21

Too good

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Kalaivanihemanth 2017-10-30 19:17:21

Thank you Kalai. Glad you liked it.

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Thank you for the comment!