Because I Said So

April 19, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

Those are haunting words that make kids fume with anger and can give those of us who are no longer kids horrifying flashbacks of the times we have heard that phrase.  You ask, “why?” and Mom or Dad say, “because I said so.” 

When you heard this growing up, you swore on anything you could think of that you would never, ever say that to your kids.  You would give them reasoned, thoughtful answers to every question that they ever ask.  Ask why once, I will give you an answer.  Twice, thrice, quadrice (?), no problem.  They can keep asking why and you will hang in there with them and keep giving them good answers to the why question.

Then it happens, they push you too hard, too far or at the wrong time and you say it, “Because I said so!”  Maybe you have chosen to mask the phrase with it’s nearly identical twin, “Because I’m your dad/mom,” but nonetheless you said it.  They overreact and then you slink back into your bedroom, close the door and weep, despondent about the loss of the idealism of your perfect always patient, gracious and thoughtful parenting style.  You have in fact, become just like your mom/dad.

I have released this.  I have become my dad.  I parent very much like he did.  The most recent example occurred at the soccer field this weekend.  My daughter in an attempt to stop the other player from attacking the goal charged the player, missed the ball, but, in fact, did not miss the player.  Had someone from Cabot High School’s football program been there, he would have wanted to talk to me and get some info on this 3rd grade prospect.  The other girl goes down hard, and rightfully, starts to cry and is carried off.

Later on at home, my mom (my folks were at the game) ask me about the incident and would it have been OK for one of my girls to cry on the field.  (Half ?) Joking, I say, “you know how I was raised, what do you think?”  “Well, you do have girls, you know.”  “Yeah, but their playing sports.  Getting hurt is part of it.  Shake it off and keep playing.  If you don’t want to get hurt, let’s take a knitting class.”  (I’m not sure if that last line is sexist, insulting to people who knit or just funny.  You be the judge.)

We all to one degree or another parent as we were parented.  You know that’s not all bad.  You turned out OK, didn’t you?  At least in some ways.  The real question is do we parent like we were parented on purpose or accidentally?  Do we not parent like we were parented for good reason or just as a continuation of teenage rebellion?  Take the good from how you were parented and gladly reproduce it.  Analyze the weaknesses and make changes when you need to.  Talk to your spouse, friends, other family and invite them to help you evaluate how you are doing.  Pray, read Proverbs.  Parent on purpose with a strategy and with consistency. 

You know, every now and then a kid needs a good, “because I said so” because your authority should be enough and they need to know it (just don’t don’t tell your parents).

p.s.  I do let my kids cry when they are legitimately hurt.  You and I may just have different definition of “legitimately.”


3 Responses to “Because I Said So”
  1. Shane says:

    Great post!

    I think, as most parents do, that as the years go buy we appreciate our parent’s not only for the life lessons they taught us, but how they prepared us for children of our own. I can honestly say that I loved the way I was parented (no yelling, no prescriptive directives, just choices and consequences of those choices, layered with “suggestions” from my dad).

    BTW, if it’s not bleeding or bbroken, don’t cry….(that’s our definition of legitimate)…

  2. Megan says:

    I say this occasionally. I justify it because my kids are young and really don’t understand the finer points and intricacies of how I came to the decision I’m enforcing. And I do want them to accept my authority without having to challenge it all the time. Questions are an important part of it, but when they become challenges I bring out the “because I said so.”

  3. cloften says:

    Lauren gets knocked down tonight at her soccer game and then gets her hand stepped on by the other team. The player is of course wearing cleats. Lauren starts to tear up. Would you like to know what I said?

    Get up. We can be hurt later.

    Yikes. Was that me or my dad?

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