So I realized the other day that I have officially become my parents. [Okay, I have come to this realization on a regular basis since I have had kids, thus also concluding that maybe my parents weren’t the total whack jobs that I had often believed them to be, but that’s beside the point.] Anyway, this day’s realization came when the words “because I said so” came flying out of my pie hole.
Because. I. Said. So.
I’ve heard many people object to this circular bit of reasoning, usually teenagers or teenagers masquerading as adults, but I listened to their objections and it got me to thinking. My conclusion? I still don’t owe my kids an explanation. My kid, I make the rules. Don’t get me wrong, even at the tender ages of 2 and 3, I often explain why I want them to do what I have asked. I like to maintain that channel of communication. However, there is that whole possibility that even if I did explain things, it’s no guarantee that they would like or accept my reasons.
I think it boils down to respect. We’ve lost our respect for the office of parent. We have authorities in our lives. God, government, employers, parents. God doesn’t owe me an explanation for why He does things. The government doesn’t owe me an explanation. My boss doesn’t owe me an explanation. And my parents don’t owe me an explanation. But we want them. We love to question authority. That’s fine, that’s good, that whole “not blindly accepting everything” thing. Partly it’s because we’ve lost our respect, our trust, of authority. Somewhere along the line, those in authority have (or we’ve felt like they have) broken that unspoken agreement of doing things in our best interest. Partly its our rebellious nature, that self-important, exaggerated sense that we are owed a hearing, that anarchist streak that is often little more than adolescent petulance.
Let’s face it, “because I said so” is often parental short cut (often read: laziness). It’s has the tacit implication of the facts that “I’ve kept you alive thus far”, “you may have to trust that I know what’s best for you”, “I’m motivated by love and your best interests”, and you may have to allow for the possibility that “I may just know more than you.” And don’t get me wrong, authority doesn’t like to be questioned. We don’t like “because I said so” but often our objections amount to “because I don’t want to.”
One of my first “daddy” moments came when I was explaining to my children (granted it was when my oldest wasn’t quite six months old) that I’m not their friend and that they were not always going to like me. Sure, I’d like us to be close, even friendly. But I explained to him that “a friend’s not going to change your stinky-ass diapers and clean up your vomit. Plus, really, you don’t want me to be your friend. You want me to be a parent, issues rules with punishments, and set boundaries.”
And sometimes that means that they’ll have to be satisfied with “because I said so.”