Most conversations start with a question, right? And questions need answers, right?
My husband is famous for asking me two contradicting questions and expecting one answer. His questions require a complete sentence. It’s frustrating when my brain is only wanting to spit out one word answers. Over the years, I’ve come around to seeing the value in a question that must be answered with something besides a “yes” or a “no”.
Here’s an example of my husband’s gifted question asking skills.
“Do you want to go out tonight for dinner or would you rather stay at home?” Or… “Do we need trash bags at the store or did you already get some?”
If he had simply asked, “Do we need trash bags at the store?” I could have answered simply, “yes” or “no”. But instead, I’m forced to answer with either “Which question do you want me to answer?” which only hurts my brain further or “No, I didn’t get trash bags. We’ll need to get some at the store.”
I’ve often wondered how many questions a mom gets asked in her lifetime? My curiosity got the better of me so I Googled it. I mean, where would we moms be without Google?
This article from 2013 in The Telegraph popped up first in my search. According to the article, moms get asked anywhere from 200 to almost 400 questions per day depending on whether you have a boy or girl. I’m sure you can guess which number goes with which gender. A mom could very well be asked approximately 100,000 questions per year. I don’t know if this makes me feel better about my life or if it frightens me.
For the sake of, well complete randomness, and to make me feel a little less crazy, let’s do a math word problem together.
Problem: A mom had three children living at home for 20 years each. Based on 100,000 questions per year, how many questions was the mom asked?
Answer: This mom fielded 6,000,000 questions while raising her children.
Due to age and gender differences, and for grins, let’s cut it down to 50,000 questions per year.
Answer: This mom fielded 3,000,000 questions while raising her children.
3 million or 6 million…no WONDER my brain shuts down when it’s time to decide what I want for dinner!
I’ll get to the point of this post.
Throughout the scriptures, Jesus used questions to start conversations even though he already knew the answer to them. Questions help us process. The right questions can untangle our thoughts. He asked questions like,
- Why are you anxious about your clothes? Matthew 6:28
- Do you want to be well? John 5:6
- Who do you say that I am? Mark 16:15
- Why are you sleeping? Luke 22:46
I’m not in any way comparing myself to Jesus but I must say I noticed these are all questions I’ve asked my kids at one point or another.
When my family lived in Singapore and I took the bus, if someone looked even remotely approachable, I would ask where they were from. I’ve met people from all over the world, some because I recognized their accent or a t-shirt logo and some just because I was curious. I’ll likely never see them again but those conversations are forever planted in the memory banks of my soul and my life is richer for it. And they started with a question.
When I rode in a taxi, I generally asked one of two questions, “Has it been busy for you today?” or “How was your coffee?” I love coffee so I enjoyed hearing where their favorite coffee stop is. In Singapore, the kopi conversation has a way of going down all sorts of interesting paths.
Most of my best Singapore stories came from taxi rides. I gleaned so much good information from them. About how Singapore works. Their opinions on living in Singapore. Interesting “facts” about Singapore – some could spin quite the tale. I would learn about their most recent election and where the best chicken rice or laksa could be found. But these conversations always started with a question that required more than simple answer.
When our kids still lived at home, and even sometimes still today, there are two questions I routinely asked them.
- What was the best part?
- What was the worst part?
We got to the point where I could say, “best part/worst part?” and they would proceed with their answers.
These questions worked for school days, field trips, play dates, for real dates, movies they watched, parties, church camps, concerts, job interviews, work, etc. I could generally get a good conversation started with a simple and non-threatening question.
Asking the question, “how was it?” would, more times than not, get me a “fine” or an “okay”. I wanted more.
I have learned through the years that to be a good communicator, whether as a friend, parent or wife, it starts with a good question and is followed by good listening. Being selfish does not make for a good conversation. Putting the focus of your conversation in a question requiring a full sentence answer is so important.
It’s also helpful, if you have trouble communicating, to take mental note of the other person’s eye color. Since I’m not such a great communicator, a simple technique I like to use is what I call, listening with your eyes. I like to walk away from a conversation knowing more about the other person than I did when the conversation started, including their eye color.
Sometimes the answers are not at all what I would expect but a question can be the start of a great adventure.
What adventure has asking a question taken you on lately?
Andrea Stunz is a committed wife, an incredibly blessed mom, a grateful mother-in-law and a ridiculously proud Gimi. She is a seasoned traveler from south Texas. Having visited countries all over the globe and lived in Brazil, Singapore and the UK, she finds hope and comfort in a beautiful sunrise and a good cup of coffee. Andrea is a self-proclaimed stumbling pilgrim who is ever so grateful for grace. She longs to encourage others in their stories by sharing a part of hers because “a story worth living is a story worth sharing”. Find more of her work over at andreastunz.com.
See more of her contributions for allmomdoes here.