Because I Said So, THAT’S WHY!

This movie has nothing to do with this post.

“‎Because I said so” is frustration given veto power. It’s dismissive and unfair. Parents should never say it. Agree or disagree?

That’s what I posted on Facebook yesterday. As you can imagine, it generated more than a few comments. Parenting issues–especially one as universal as the dreaded Because I said so–are popular topics among my Facebook friends. Mostly because my FB friends are my age and aren’t looking to max out their chill at DJ Teddy RXpin’s mad rave this weekend and don’t roll so much with the homies. (Does anybody really roll with homies anymore?  Probably not. We have an underground nation of sad, lonely homies out there, don’t we? Poor, poor homies.)

Even friends without kids felt the need to opine. It seems just about everybody has either said “Because I said so” or been on the receiving end of it. But why?

Probably the best point made in the favor of Because I said so was that if you’ve got a kid with the pester gene, sometimes that’s the only answer they’ll accept. Makes sense to me.

I think, ultimately, you need to give your kids the respect of an explanation. That’s how they learn. “Why?” is often an annoying question, but it’s a good one. It’s a question that deserves taking some time to answer (so long as it’s asked in sincerity and not repetitively and disrespectfully).  But there are times when military-like obedience is required and, to me, that’s what Because I said so represents.

For example, running around in the kitchen when the oven is open. If my child seeks an explanation first before stopping, she might very well end up with some serious burns at best, or end up as dinner at worst (only if my second cousins, The Cannibals, are over, but you never know when they’re gonna drop by). But if my child understands that, until she’s an adult, she must obey me regardless of reason, then she’ll stop immediately “because I said so.” The explanations can come second.

I think the trick is building up the faith and understanding enough so that when you say Because I said so it really means something and it’s not just a last resort. If my child knows I care about her and that answers will always be forthcoming at some point, then I think she’d be more likely to take my word as law and never, ever be so totally incorrigible that I’ll be tempted to utter the words Because I said so in total frustration.

Also, I’m pretty sure Pollyanna is totally a true story.

What do you think? Is there every a time when Because I said so is appropriate? Or do you try to ban the phrase from your vocabulary?

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4 comments

  1. I use it, not a lot, but it has been uttered by me to my kids on several occasions. Though on those occasions it’s not a blind front leading phrase that is masked in confusion and suspicion, it is one that is secondary to the first telling of what they need to do at that moment, or not need to do and why. When the follow up questions start showing that they are more interested in finding out the specifics of the “Why” at that point versus doing what I have instructed them to do that’s when “Because I said So” comes pouring out.

    I always take the time to make them understand the importance of following instructions and doing what an authority figure has instructed them to do (parent, teacher, sunday school teacher, etc.) first and not lolly gag waiting to be asked again, so when those stubborn traits that I have passed down genetically to them start to show and the whiny question of “But, Why do I have to do this?” comes creeping out of their cute little pie holes I shut ’em down with “Because I said so.” like it’s the ultimate weapon to stop all unruly forces. Lord help me, I’ve become my father. 🙂

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    1. We all become our parents to a certain extent, I think. Don’t beat yourself up, Todd!

      Because I Said So is a weapon, I agree. And it must be deployed with wisdom. Good thoughts, man. Thanks!

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  2. I’ve never had occasion to use the phrase, but I personally don’t like it. I understand that in an emergency (such as the open oven) or when an explanation would precede the child’s comprehension, “Because I said so” is maybe the best option, but…maybe it’s the phrasing that bothers me. There must be a better way to communicate the same thing. Though I suppose it probably depends on the child. At this point of my life, all I can say is that I don’t like the phrase. We’ll see how I use it or fail to use it later.

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    1. I’m sure there is a better way to communicate the same thing, but sometimes it does fit. I have to admit that. I try not to use, but there are times when nothing else fits. Sometimes, obedience has to happen both for emergency reasons, but also because respect is due.

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