The other night I watched an episode of For Peete’s Sake on OWN and days later I found myself replaying a part of it over and over in my head. It’s the episode where Holly’s mom Dolores says the kids aren’t behaving and that they need some new parenting called “because I said so.”
“Because I said so” parenting is when you ask your child to do something, they whine and moan, ask why, tell you what they’d rather do instead, get distracted, ask why again….and then you respond with “because I said so.”
I used to hate to hear that from my parents when I was young. I thought it was cruel and insensitive to not explain why or discuss something with me. And I really thought, wait for it….that it was unfair. I vowed to never use that phrase when I became a parent but instead, I envisioned patiently explaining the myriad of reasons why I needed my children to get dressed, pick up their toys, brush their teeth, wash their hands, etc.
In my young mind, the “because I said so” response offered too little information about why and ultimately left no room to negotiate which now that I’m a parent, I know is the point. I failed to understand that having to explain basic things countless times gets old, really fast. And so God created that lovely phrase – “because I said so” – and it saves everyone from mommy losing her cool while also making it clear that something needs to get done.
Now, there are many professionals that feel that this type of authoritarian parenting has lost its power and place in today’s world. They say that this style isn’t constructive, doesn’t allow the child to think for themselves, or learn how to problem solve and consider options.
But when it comes to discipline and your child is in that sweet spot in age where they are trying to figure out who holds the power and where they fit in (roughly 4 to 6 years-old), this style can be so helpful. It clearly establishes the pecking order in the home – you are the child, I am the adult and you do as I say, not vice versa. If you don’t clarify and establish these roles with your child while they’re still young, God help you when they are teenagers! I’m not suggesting that at some point you shouldn’t sit down and explain things to your child but you shouldn’t have to do so each and every time you ask them to do something.
Obviously I’m no trained expert on the topic – just a regular mom who has realized that the old-school parenting of my mom’s generation had something going with the “because I said so” style.
Needless to say, you can forget that part when I vowed not to use the phrase – I am totally a “because I said so” mom.