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Wiley Wandering

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December 22, 2008

The Holidays Are Here, So What Do We Tell Our Youth When ….. ?

So, it’s the holiday season and it never fails. Because many of us have more time on our hands during the period of December 25th and January 1st we find ourselves trapped, cornered, with no escape from the whimsical wonderings of young minds. At some point as parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, older cousins, basically as adults we will be asked certain questions from our younger family members or neighborhood youth. What do we tell them when they ask that probing question? For that matter, what did your parents tell you when you asked those questions?


Come on, it’s happened to you, so don’t act as if you can’t recall an incident. You have either been on the questioning or answering side of this equation. Just last night my eight year old daughter asked me a question that completely silenced the table. She has the ability to do this often and it makes me wonder sometime does she have a vendetta against me, or is she just being like her father and making me pay for all those times I have done that to others. Anyway, I know I am digressing and you want to know what’s up, what did she ask. She said, “Daddy, why don’t you like Christmas?” Wow! Somehow I have morphed into a Scrooge-like character. I know my answer needed to be clear and concise enough to not lose her. More importantly, I knew I had to answer her. I do not succumb to ageism with my children. Yes I am older, have more life experiences, more education, and make more money. But this world is more hers now, or not as much mine as it used to be. She has a perspective that I want to hear and know. Our relationship is balanced in terms of our communication expectations. Since I know that I want her to respect my voice and hopefully the wisdom that comes along with it, I listen attentively to everything she says, even the lighter fluffy things that occasionally travel out of her mouth without much consideration. When she puts something out there that isn’t as thoughtful as it should have been, I call her on it. So, I knew I was traveling on tenuous territory as I collected myself to give her an answer.

She has asked me other questions not any less challenging as well. My son, who is now 12 years old also tries to crowd me from time to time. Some of their better questions have been:

-- Do you believe in God?

-- If you aren’t homophobic then why don’t you have gay friends?

-- Why were you and Mommy arguing?

-- Why do some White people hate us when they don’t even know us?

--Will you always love me, no matter what?

-- Are you ever afraid?

-- Why do we have a nice house while some of my friends live in apartments or trailers?

How did you answer these questions? What other questions from your children, or our youth have you been challenged to answer? To what extent do you take the answers? I know I may impress some of you with my ability to engage the difficult conversational topics, but I can make an argument that there are no more challenging questions than the ones are children ask us. Our answers are huge to them and have the power of shaping them and their thought for years if not the duration of their lifetimes. So, I'm awaiting your responses, and don't get it twisted, a brother could really use some help on this one. Consider it your holiday gift to me, or reciprocal "love" for all the blogs that I have written (and will write) that might have made you think!