“Why can’t I go outside and play?”
“Because I said so…” was such a common phrase growing up in the eighties that until this day I’m annoyed by those four words.
How frustrating is it to want an explanation and not be able to get one?
On one hand this is a good lesson in life, correct? There aren’t always answers to questions. However, on the other spectrum it is beyond annoying when you know there is a reason but someone doesn’t feel like giving it…whatever the reason.
Imagine being a child or teenager in an adult world and wanting to understand why a decision has been made and simply given, “Because I said so.”
These four words can bring doubt, fear, frustration, and respect issues into play, closing doors to future communication,
If a parent won’t tell you WHY… should they (the child) just do it anyway? Of course not, but I can guarantee one day it will run through their head. The older they get they will challenge the four words by sneaking behind your back and the trust walls will only continue to crumble.
The Child’s Experimental Theory:
What will happen if I do it anyway?
Kid keeps leaning back in the chair.
Mom: Keep the chair on all fours.
Mom: I said keep the chair on all fours. Stop leaning back in the chair.
Mom: Because I said so.
Kid continues to lean back in the chair. (What happens if I do keep leaning back in the chair? Even feeling it is a game to balance on two instead of four legs.)
Kid leans back to far and falls backwards.
Mom: I told you not to lean back in the chair!
Okay, so we have our scenario and many people know the consequences of what can happen when you lean back in a chair. Some of you (parents) might have even experienced the consequences first hand at sometime in i your life.
And if you haven’t fallen backwards, you can logically imagine the consequences, let alone you rather not a chance a hospital visits.
As adults, we sometimes forget a child really hasn’t processed any of the logic on why it’s a bad idea. It’s a new trick!
The falling, however, could be avoided if the adult would take a moment to explain why the child indeed shouldn’t lean back in the chair. Especially because the adult won’t always be in the same room as the child such as when they are at school or maybe a library… you are teaching your child fundamentals to make good choices.
Mom could have informed her child, ” If you keep leaning back in the chair it can slip and go backwards. You’ll hit you head it and we will end up in the hospital with you getting stitches. It could even be worse, not to mention I don’t want you breaking the chair.”
The last part probably is minor in comparence to a head injury, but let’s be honest, it is also a worry our expensive furniture might get destroyed in the process.
The consequences of leaning back in the chair are at a higher stake for the child now that they can visually process the outcome. Sure, it’s a fun trick but the child doesn’t need to continue the challenge of the adults words, already knowing the possible outcome.
As parents we don’t feel the need to have to always explain ourselves, and sometimes we aren’t obligated too, but then you are also setting an example that your child isn’t obligated to tell you why even when you’d like an explanation when the tables are turned.
However, in explaining consequences to actions builds trust and logic between both of you.
Why? Because I said so, is the easiest and fastest response for adults who are simply exhausted, lazy or trying to avoid/end further conflict.
Let’s face it, when your teenager wants to go to the mall and you simply need down time you can foresee a battle in your future if you answer, “You can’t go to the mall because I don’t feel like driving there. I just want chill time.”
In a teenager’s life, in that moment of asking for you to take them to the mall, nothing will be more important than them getting their way. (This applies to younger kids as well…)
When we (parents) are exhausted and “just need a break” explaining why we don’t want to do something feels ridiculous. Parents work, take care of house, taxi sporting events, volunteer at school, worry about homework… and the list goes on…. it’s up to us to make the rules. After all we are the parents… and frankly, if we need a dang break the last person we need to explain ourself too is our child.
Is it right….?
Communication can earn you a lot of respect and also teach your child how to return the favor in the future.
One day my eight year old son asked me if we could go to the park and I simply replied with, “Not today.”
“Because I said so.”
Finally, defeated and too tired to play the said so game I solemnly admitted, “Buddy, I’m sorry, I’m just wore out and I really need a break.”
“You can just sit there (at the park).”
“I understand that but I don’t want to.”
“Mom, please take me to the park.”
“You are making me feel guilty the more you pressure me but I am being honest with you when you asked why. I understand you want to go now but let’s schedule it for another time?”
“Thursday (three days later).”
I follow through on Thursday even though I’m not any less wore out. However, we planned it, communicated, and I’m teaching him I follow through on my word.
Being upfront and honest allows our children to view us as people with needs and feelings too. We try to put our child’s needs and wants ahead of ours but the truth is sometimes we DO need a break and it’s good for parents to take a break. By openly verbalizing our feelings with our child we are opening doors to communication. When we are open it breaks down walls for them to be honest in return.
If you respond to WHY openly they will learn to respond to WHY openly.
OMG! They want to do things I’m not comfortable with…
One of the best reasons to give the four word statement, “Because I said so…” is when we are highly uncomfortable with a situation.
“Mom, can I walk to the store?”
Well, it’s a lot easier to say, “Because I say so…” instead of explaining a crazy person might try to kidnap them and you will suffer from anxiety every minute they are gone praying their return home…
Let’s face it, telling your teenager she can go to a co-ed sleepover after prom makes you want to wrap her in Chasity belt. Telling her why you don’t want her to go then relays you don’t trust her…
So your just flippin’ screwed!
Unfortunately, our spawns are their own people. Providing information and education is the best thing we can do for our child while preparing to send them out to the real world one day.
Cards on the table, it was only a couple weeks ago I stood on the front porch telling my son he was okay to walk to the end of the cul-de-sac by himself to a friend’s house, and after he disappeared to the next street I crept around and spied on him until I saw him enter her yard.
Yep! That mom.
Their are moments I give my son the greenlight and sheer terror and anxiety streak through me while my brain rationalizes the growth and development of my boy. I’m slowly trying to raise my boy into a confident, self-Assurant man.
That being said, as a teenager I did have co-ed sleep over parties in high school and because of my relationship with my mother, trust and respect, and education of consequences I remained a virgin through my high school days. We are all wired differently and today, there is so much more to worry about at these co-ed situations and I’m horrified to learn some of the truths.
As a parent we need to listen to our gut and sometimes if our gut is twisting it is enough to say no and honestly, this reason is verifiable for anyone to understand.
“I trust you, but I’m not comfortable with the situation. Something in my gut says something is going to happen. That bites but I can’t go against my gut and I hope you never will either.”
I apply this to my daily life sometimes ‘till this day and perhaps the best lesson your child can learn. You can even add, “If it changes I’ll let you know but as of now it’s a hard no.”
Your child might want to know what you think will happen? But the best thing is to stick with your honest answer. As a parent it’s best to be honest and frank and though we don’t always have answers beyond…is okay. Parents are simply people.
The best thing we can do for our children, is voice our fears and concerns, educate, trust them and hand them the reins. If your child is brave enough to ask you a question without doing it behind your back, the most admiral and worthy advice you can offer is always stronger than Because I said so.