“Because I said so”.
“Because what I say goes”.
“Because I’m the parent, and you’re the child.”
Sometime in our lives, we have either been told this, or have said this. It’s an effortless, yet effective way to tell children “no” or enforce discipline whilst reinforcing the parent’s authorial position, but, in my personal (albeit, biased) opinion, these phrases are flawed. You know when your teenager yells at you that you “just don’t get it” because you’re not a teenager? Maybe I “just don’t get” these phrases because I’m not a parent.
In my opinion, these phrases are flawed for three reasons. Firstly, a child can’t associate what they’re being denied/ what they’re being told to do with a reason, therefore, they’re more likely to question it again. Secondly, without reasoning a child is more likely to grow angrier- not just because you told them no, but also because they feel like your reasoning is unjust and unfair, and you’re actually enjoying saying no for no particular reason. Thirdly, because it reinforces how you have the power in the relationship, and your child doesn’t.
Quite simply, I think these phrases are a little like putting band-aids on a bullet hole: they’re just a temporary fix; a way to get them to obey you, and stop asking questions every five minutes. At some point the band-aid will fall off; the kids will ask you again and again, and you will find yourself saying “because I said so” more and more often. This happens because they don’t understand or learn why you’re saying no, and because they don’t see a logical reason, they can’t make sense of it.
When it appears that you don’t have a logical reason, kids start feeling resentful, and feel like you’re just doing it to be mean, and you’re actually enjoying not buying them a toy at the store/ making them do the dishes/ not letting them go to a sleepover. This can result in more arguments and fighting, simply because they feel like you’re being completely unfair, even though you might very well have good reasoning.
These phrases also emphasize how you have the power in the relationship, and your child is essentially, “powerless”. This might very well be true, but do you remember when you were a child, and you couldn’t wait to be a “grown up” because then you could do what you liked, say what you liked, and go where you liked, and essentially, have power over your own life? Children aren’t adults, but they don’t need to be treated like “children” all the time, either, and the distance between “child” and “adult” doesn’t need to be reinforced every time they ask a question.
Like I said, I really don’t know how it feels to be asked questions every five minutes and have to come up with answers for every single question. I don’t know what it’s like to be so busy that you don’t have time to come up with a proper answer for every single one of these questions. I don’t know what it’s like to say “because I said so”, and be relieved when the questions stop. I do, however, know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of these phrases, and, in my personal opinion, I think they’re only temporarily effective, just like band-aids.
What do you think? Do you find these phrases effective? Let me know in the comments.