Because I Said So – by Margaret Hart
I was talking with a group of moms this week about discipline. And consequences. And saying no, and meaning it. But then ultimately caving in because you’re simply worn out from saying no, and your child constantly asking, “But, why?”
One mom brought up the age-old answer that most of us have heard at one time or another from our parents : “Because I said so.” That seemed to get to the heart of the issue. These days, it seems that “Because I said so” just doesn’t fly in most households. Maybe it didn’t when we were growing up, either!
Another mom related that early on, when her children would ask the “but why?” question, she tried, as every good parent does, to provide an intelligent answer — after all, this was a “learning opportunity.” One day, while spending time with her parents (the wise Grandparents), her father observed the discourse between her and her son, and asked, rather sarcastically, “What’s with all the “dialogue?” Because, when his daughter was growing up, No meant No. No if’s, ands, or but’s!
I find myself faced with the “But, why” question more often these days. My 8 1/2 year old tries mightily to outwit me or to wear me out. When I get the “But, why?” question, it’s often after I’ve said no several times to his requests to stay up past his bedtime…just one more hour, or to play one more game on the 3DS or the Wii, or just to do something he wants to do that I don’t want him to do. It’s usually a soft boundary being bent. And he knows I am pliable.
The parenting experts try to scare us by saying that if you don’t have boundaries for your children early on, and then consistently stick to those boundaries, that your child will end up spoiled or belligerent or both, or worse. There have to be rules, and consequences when the rules are broken, and our job as parents is to enforce them. With consistency. Well…
My friends and I reached no hard and fast conclusions. We shared our experiences, exchanged our views, and in so doing, found that we were more alike than different in how we answer the “But, why?” question. It’s all part of the process of parenting. It’s another phase in the development of our children, and we just do the best we can to guide them in the right direction.
By saying no, and meaning it, and sticking to it, we are teaching them that some things are not negotiable. But by saying no, and caving in every now and again, we are also teaching them an important lesson: that life is not a scientific formula that always has to be followed exactly by the numbers. Things will be okay if, every now and again, you bend the rules.