How my daughter is the new queen of “why”


Today is International Women’s Day.

Coincidentally, this week my 2-year-old daughter discovered the many delights of asking “why?”

I know that before long, I’ll grow tired of hearing every statement, every request, every instruction met with this magical, three-letter word.

But I hope she never stops using it.

Today she might be asking why she’s not supposed to splash water all over the floor during bath time. Someday she might be asking why women in her country earn less doing the same job as a man. Or why girls in some parts of the world are less likely to go to school than boys.

Or why some churches still insist on keeping girls like her out of the pulpit, all for want of a certain chromosome.

Kids are wired with natural, boundless curiosity. They can’t help but ask “why” of seemingly everything and everyone.

But a child’s curiosity is a fragile thing, as studies have confirmed. It can either be nurtured or it can be crushed. And it can be crushed more easily than you think.

I don’t always have a good answer for Elizabeth’s why’s. (No, I don’t know why the dog wants to play with his rubber chicken and not his bone.) But I hope to always honor my daughter’s curiosity. Whether or not I have good answers, I want to show her with every response that I think she has good questions — and that I hope she never stops asking them.

Because a world where being female can still be cause for discrimination is a world that needs more questioners, not fewer. It needs more people asking “Why?” and “How can this be?” It needs more people who won’t take “Because that’s the way things are” for an answer.

As one of my best friends wrote on his blog today, “I want [my kids] to grow up to be dissidents and troublemakers, not good little consumers or passive subjects.”

Here’s to being the best troublemaker you can be, Elizabeth.

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