Dr. Jennifer Bremer's Blog

a psychiatrist mom rambles

question parenting

Parents have answers. Especially doctor moms. We have been studying for so many years.  We just need to impose our hard won answers on our kids.  We tell. Kids listen and do.  I use the term "Answer Parenting" to refer to such parenting via administering answers and agendas.

Such "Answer Parenting" can be tempting but has short-comings. First, the approach generally peeves the child. Who likes to be told what to do? And, who likes to deal with a peeved child? Second, the approach doesn't allow the child to practice figuring out an answer or to practice using their own growing little seats of wisdom and morals as they search for answers.

So, at home I increasingly turn to "Question Parenting." I flood my kids with endless inquiries. Of course, this is not novel. Therapists of multiple theoretical ilks long have been helping children develop decision making skills via asking endless questions. And, innumerable parenting approaches (such as my favorite "Collaborative Problem Solving" by Ross Greene), lean heavily on eliciting the child's input. However, I'm increasingly including interminable questioning into every day routine parenting exchanges -- with good results.

Yesterday evening during dinner offers an example:


My six year old J: "Can I please be excused?"

Me: "What do you think?"

J: "I know. I have to eat my vegetables. How much do I have to eat?"

Me: "Hmmmm. I wonder."

J: "How about if I just eat the carrots all up?"

Me: "Is that the best you can do?"

J: "How about one leaf of spinach too?"

Me: "What do you think?"

J: "One more leaf. I think that's enough."

Me: "Sounds perfect."

The method, to my amazement, even seems routinely to work on the older kids. When they act up, I ask questions:


"How am I going to get to spoil you if you do that?"

Or, "Don't you want to fix that?"

Or, "How could you fix that?"





And, oddly enough, the kids tend to offer incredibly reasonable responses and remedy the situation.











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