No, it wasn't the typical automated teen response, but what they felt was my typical parental response. I must admit that they probably hear me say it more often than not.
Much of the time I am just so preoccupied with the task at hand that I don't even realize that I have given them the usual "I don't know" answer. I'm probably just trying to get dinner on the table or finish a blog post and cannot give them my undivided attention for another few minutes. Mostly they are just inquiring about when we might be doing a particular activity or if they can have a friend over.
Okay, those particular moments are not necessarily worthy of being nominated for Parent of the Year and I'm okay with that. As I've mentioned in previous posts, it is okay to have my kids wait a few minutes until I can give them my full attention. If my initial response is "I don't know," it is my parental prerogative to give them a more detailed answer when I'm able. Okay?
There are plenty of other times that, well, I really just don't know. Could be a math or science question. Could be a theological or political question. In any case, I'm completely content with letting them know that "I don't know." Depending on the type of inquiry, I may encourage them to look up something in the concordance or commentary or, dare I say it, Google it! Being married to a computer geek, I know enough to remind them that they can't believe everything they read on the Internet, so I am more likely to point them in the direction of Googling the more reliable sources.
As frustrated as they can get with my "I don't know"'s, I'm glad that I don't have to live up to the pretense of having all the answers. I would rather research an answer and get back to them, than make something up on the spot. This shows them a good example of how to learn and where to go to find information on specific topics. It also helps them learn to trust me when I do give them a firm answer.
"I don't know" may drive my kids crazy, but I plan on repeating it as there is always more to learn.
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