I read articles from time-to-time that talk about how parents should avoid saying the phrase “because I said so” as a reason for asking their children to do something.
The usual line of reasoning is quite simple. It is that children need to be instructed as to why something is necessary, or right, or wrong. The argument then goes that just saying “because I said so” is not instructing children. Some even go so far as to say that using that line is almost dictatorial.
To be fair, if “because I said so” is the only reason we ever give to our children for anything we tell them to do, that isn’t right. This does not need to be the only response we ever give our children because it does not expand their thinking to only be given one reason over and over again. There is a lack of instruction, especially if “because I said so” is all our kids ever hear.
However, I believe “because I said so” has merit as one response parents should give their children at various times.
Why? Because it teaches them that, sometimes you follow an authority figure simply because they are the authority figure.
When the blue lights flash behind your car, you may not like that you are getting pulled over, but you still move your car to the side. For what reason do you do such a thing? Because an authority figure has said so. We do not ask the police officer for his/her credentials when those lights come on. The lights themselves prove any credential we might need!
Children need to be taught to respect authority. Sometimes, that means you just do what you are told because someone in authority has spoken. It does not mean you always understand it. It doesn’t mean you always enjoy it. It means you are showing respect to a position of authority.
Over time, parents should instruct their children more often than they just say “because I said so.” But a decent dose of “because I said so” instills in children a respect for the position of a parent. The children should do as they are told–over time, and mixed with instruction–simply because their parents, who are in that position of authority, have said so.
Author: Adam Faughn
Photo background credit: Andrew Taylor on Creative Commons