But why, Mommy?
Because I said so.
Yep, I use that dreaded line. I think it is a good idea to explain the why behind a lot of my actions. I write about that all the time. But the truth is sometimes the reason is as short as ‘Because I said so.’ That is the conversation stopper right there. I think it is important for my children to hear this reason. There are times for explanations and conversations, and there are times for obeying. Because I said so is an important lesson for several reasons.
It reminds children of their place
Oh yes, I’m starting with a harsh one. Here is the thing, my children are just that. Children. I am the adult. I have put in the years and spent time working and learning in order to be able to take care of them. They don’t have that experience. As a result, there are times when they just need to take my word for it on a topic. That doesn’t give me the right to abuse this hierarchy. As they say, with great power comes great responsibility. But at the end of the day, I am the adult responsible for my children, and they need to do as I say.
It helps practice delayed gratification
We want what we want when we want it. This is especially true for children. They want things now! But we can’t always get what we want, and I don’t think it is good for children to always get what they want. Instant gratification is great, but children need to learn to work hard and be patient in order to get what they want. Sometimes that means not getting a say in what is happening. They can learn to wait, and learn the benefits of delayed gratification.
It helps children learn to sit with frustration
I don’t think anyone likes being frustrated. And not getting what you consider to be an adequate explanation for something, like when you hear ‘because I said so’ is so frustrating! As adults we can’t just throw a temper tantrum anytime we have to do as we are told. (It would be very hard to keep a job if we did.) Children need a chance to learn these skills. I am working to teach my children to handle frustration in a positive manner. In order to do this, sometimes I need to let frustrations happen. This doesn’t mean I abandon my child if he is having a hard time when I say because I said so. It means he is getting a chance to practice with me there to help him.
It’s a real-life situation
There are things we do as adults because someone else said so. For example, there is a law in Illinois (or at least there was) that you cannot buy a car from a car dealer on a Sunday. I’m sure there were adequate reasons for it when it was enacted, but I personally feel in this day and age it is a bit silly. Regardless of how I feel, it is a law. And as such, in Illinois, you cannot buy a car on Sunday because someone said so. You can choose to fight the law. You can rail against it, try to get it repealed, protest it. Until it goes away though, you either have to follow it or face the consequences. It doesn’t matter if you think it is a stupid law. Another example is on the job. Sometimes at work, we have to do things because our boss said so. We might not have all the information, we might not know they why behind what we are doing. But it is our job, and most of us want to keep our jobs, so we must do it. Expecting our children to learn this lesson isn’t a far-fetched idea.
It encourages children to learn to pick their battles
There are times when we need to stand up against what we consider to be unfair or unjust. Times when we cannot accept a reason of because I said so. Those are important times and I want my children to learn to stand up for themselves and others. The thing is, they can’t do that for every reason. They need to learn to pick their battles. Fighting everything just results in, well, fighting everything. I feel it weakens what you really stand for. We all know that person that is battling a new perceived evil every other day. In time it becomes hard to take that person seriously. But by learning to discern what is truly important to fight against our children can learn to direct their energies and efforts to really make a difference.
It teaches trust
Sometimes in life, we have to trust that others know more than we do. For my children that means they need to trust that I am looking out for them. This trust isn’t always focused on the negative. I might give the answer ‘because I said so’ because I am planning a fun surprise. Regardless of the reason, there are times in life we need to trust that others know more than we do. Our bosses, our leaders, the police, medical professionals. They might have more information on events than we do, and we might need to trust their judgment. This is a delicate trust, one that we must be cautious with. Learning to trust is not the same as learning to trust blindly. Children can start learning from their parents, seeing a good example of leadership that is keeping the good of all in mind. This model can be applied to future situations to help children learn who they can and should trust.
‘Because I said so’ is a valuable parenting tool. Children do need to hear the whys behind rules and events in their lives. Understanding why can be instrumental in learning. But there are times when we don’t know the why, and these times teach valuable lessons too. ‘Because I said so’ needs to be used carefully, but I think it is important for children to hear.
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