What Parents Can Learn from the ‘Why’ Stage

The day has come. Juniper has begun asking “why” to nearly every statement. I’m not fully sure if she even knows what the question means but she picked it up in the last week.

Juniper has begun asking “why” to nearly every statement. I’m not fully sure if she even knows what the question means but she picked it up in the last week.

I was away for a few days last week and got the text from my wife (Lindsay) the “whys” were becoming incessant. I felt bad because she had extra time with no reinforcements to answer the never-ending questions. Once I got home I realized just how much this was happening! At first, we both were quite annoyed and ready to pull our hair out but we realized this was a part of a young brain trying to figure this crazy world out. It was in this moment we gained some clarity as to our purpose in this season. (Full disclosure: we aren’t saints and to say we’re excited or always want to answer or do answer is just not true. But we’re working on it).

So little by little we have been answering patiently. But then another reality hit me, this toddler type behavior is actually quite brilliant!

I am a marketing graphic designer for my full-time job and one question we should ask on the regular, but often forget, is “Why”? We get so caught up in the what and how that often we forget to define why it is we are doing any given action. Why would we expect a customer or prospect to act or react a certain way?

The deep application of the “why” question was brought to my attention about a year ago when I heard Simon Sinek speak. He wrote a book titled Start With Why and in both the book and the talk he spelled out exactly why “why” is so important. In fact, it is the first question that we need to ask before we get too far down a road that is worthless or will require far too much effort.

Just months after hearing Simon speak I was working on a project with my co-worker Andy (he has a great iOS development blog by the way). Throughout the course of the project, I was neck deep in the details, but Andy was reading Start With Why. He stopped by my desk one morning as I was struggling through how to articulate something and started asking me “why” questions. Andy went all 2-year-old on me and it was exactly what I needed.

You see “why” is necessary in both circumstances. At work, we need it for clarity and purpose.  And toddlers need the question to gain understanding and reasoning.

There is no shortage of lessons we can learn every day when we pay attention to even the annoyances. Does that make those things any less annoying? Nope! But when we identify the good in something it sure makes it easier to handle.

So if you’re in the “why” stage of parenting consider how you better teach your children in those moments. And if you are in a job where “why” isn’t being asked, be like Andy and remind someone that they need to answer that question first before moving any further on a project.

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