The Questions Parents Fear the Most

The earth weighs 5.9736×1024kg in case your kid asks. (ThinkStock Photos)The earth weighs 5.9736×1024kg in case your kid asks. (ThinkStock Photos)Where do babies come from? That used to be every parent's dreaded question. You may not know how to respond, but hopefully you know the answer. A new survey of over 2,000 moms and dads suggests that the real tough questions for parents are the ones they don't have answers for.

The big stumpers:
"Why does the moon come out during the day sometimes?"

"How much does the earth weigh?"

"How do airplanes fly?

"Will we ever discover aliens?"

"Why is water wet?"

"How do I do long division?"

"What makes a rainbow"

"Where do birds fly in winter?"

And, of course, the age old noodle-softener:

"Why is the sky blue?"

For many of these common kid queries, there are legitimate answers easily tackled by meteorologists, earth scientists, engineers and everyone's faithful sidekick, Wikipedia. Some questions are more open-ended (i.e.: E.T. phone home) but enough data exists to point kids in a realistic direction. But not all parents are willing to do that under pressure.

Only a third of those polled at the Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair said they look up what they don't know to provide an accurate response, while the rest admitted to deflecting the question or making something up to keep their authoritarian status in tact.

Why so afraid to admit what you don't know? It's embarrassing, according to 50 percent of the participants. But ego isn't the real problem here. It's the fact that many kids know more than their parents when it comes to the sciences, these days thanks to innovative televised and interactive learning tools. 26 percent of parents polled, believed their offspring are wiser when it comes to the basics of math and science. Another finding: at least 10 percent of moms felt they knew less about math and science, because they weren't supported in the subject back when they were in school.

It's not easy raising a 'Gen Facebooker', but there are benefits. Access to answers are easier to acquire than ever and the research process can be a teachable moment for both kids and parents.

One dad with a particularly curious child went on a quest to provide the most informed answers. Wendell Jamieson, a New York Times editor, wrote a book called Father Knows Less. In it, he calls on professionals to answer the hundreds of questions his son, Dean, has asked since he was a toddler. When Dean wants to know why policeman like doughnuts, Jamieson gets a Miami Police Commissioner's take: "It's because doughnut stores are's quick and easy. If you're eating in your car and get an emergency call you can discard them easily."

And there you have it.

As Dean got older, the questions got tougher: for inevitable dinosaur questions, he enlisted a paleontologist. For those obtuse spiritual questions, he got religious philosophers to offer guidance. Wrangling expert sources isn't the easiest parenting method but even harder than that is admitting to your child you don't know everything. Baby steps.

Now it's your turn: What questions do you fear the most as parent?

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