What's wrong with telling a child, "I don't know, but we can look it up."?
I thought about this when listening to ”Nearly Midnight, Honolulu” by Neko Case. I know kids go through the why phase where they seem to ask a thousand questions. Some of them are tough to answer. “Mommy, why is the sky blue?” might well stump someone who has not studied the science needed to answer the question. But why do parents give thoughtless answers like “It just is.” or “Why do you ask so many questions.”?
It’s easy and honest to answer, “I don’t know, but we can look it up and see if anybody does know.” A quick search will turn up the answer, stimulate the child’s intellectual curiosity, and build a stronger teaching bond between parent and child. There are also questions nobody knows the answer to right now. “Daddy, what was before the Big Bang?” While there is an answer to this, nobody knows for certain what it is right now.
Still, a search for it provides interesting food for thought. And who knows, the child whose parent leads them through that initial exploration of the question instead of just shutting them up might one day sit proudly in the crowd watching their curious child, now grown up, collect a Nobel prize for answering this thorny question. Why don’t more adults stimulate their child’s innate curiosity?