There is no phrase as tempting as this one! Especially at the stage our children are currently at, where every little thing seems to be faced with the question “Why??”
“Why do I have to eat my vegetables?”
“Why must I go to sleep?”
“Why do I have to go pee?”
“Why can’t I play in the rain?”
“Why must I go fetch your charger?”
Questions that are at times to honestly seek understanding, and at other times to seemingly challenge your entire being!
To think of it, all the above questions can “easily” be solved with “Because I Said So”, especially that last one !
But the reason I try not to use “Because I Said So” is because I want to be able to reason with our kids, and to engage with them as I would with other people. After all, I don’t ever imagine myself responding to any other person with that phrase.
Of course, we as parents are the “authoritative figures” over our children, however the parent-child relationship is that: a relationship.
I also don’t mean that parents should provide an explanation or wait for the child to understand every little thing before they expect obedience. There are times where I’ve had to let my children know that “each family has their set of rules, and this is one of ours” when they don’t get or agree with something.
Well, at least my 4- and 6-year old understand that concept, my 2 year old….not so much
Another thing about this phrase is that it just shuts down any potential or further communication. There’s no comeback from that. It’s “Because I Said So”, Full Stop.
Children Are People
My point is that, although I do want us to teach our children to obey, I don’t want to do it in a dominating way, so to speak. I don’t want them to ever feel as though they don’t have a voice in our family or that we don’t care or respect their opinions and feelings. They have a right to respect and dignity as little as they are.
And this is big for me because I feel like often in a family, children’s feelings can easily be disregarded, and their human-ness not respected.
- It’s all too easy for grown ups to not apologise when they do something wrong. We make it a point to apologise to our kids when we’ve done something wrong.
- It’s easy to have a different character expectation of kids than we do of ourselves. For example, we expect our kids not to shout at anyone (whether it’s us, their siblings, friends, etc), and to apologise when they do. And so we also apologise when we shout at them. We don’t expect character that we cannot ourselves portray.
- Kids often don’t have a choice to say no. Has it ever occurred to you that kids don’t want to hug and kiss everyone they meet?
As much as we want to teach kids to share, do we ever allow them the freedom to say “no” with certain things, as we often have the prerogative to with our own things.
Anyway, I’m still trying to process all of this but I know I don’t want our kids to think of themselves as sub-humans but to have a strong feeling of value and self-esteem.
I want to treat them the same way I would expect another human to treat me. Not that we don’t discipline and cease to be parents, but that we are able to also be co-humans who respect and honour each other.
I don’t know what it ideally looks like but it’s something I’m working on.
What are your thoughts?