Is it fair for parents to use the reason "because I said so" when a kid asks "why?" originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Michelle Roses, who has two daughters:
Here's the deal. I'm in charge, not my kids, although they like to think they are sometimes.
Children ask lots of questions. I mean, A LOT.
Good questions vs. bad questions
Some of these questions are good:
- Why is the sky blue?
- Why do people fart?
- Do horses like pigs?
And sometimes the questions have good answers.
- Because of light refraction and light waves ... etc.
- Because certain foods cause some people to form air in their tummies and it travels through the intestines to the anus .... etc.
- The next time we see a horse, we should ask him, but they all seem to get along at the farms I've visited.
Sometimes questions don't have good answers. Usually, the whiny why questions. Whhhhyyyyy???
- You have to wear your jacket because it's snowing and 34 degrees.
- You have to brush your teeth so you don't get cavities and your teeth don't rot out of your head.
- You have to shower because you smell like Fritos.
We're tired, and we know you know why
After a certain number times, hearing these same questions over and over, for years, a parent is tired. Actually being a parent is just tiring. All the time. So, if we really are too tired to explain for the 200th time why our child needs to brush his teeth, "Because I said so," pretty much covers it.
Kids are really good at manipulating a situation to try to get their way, especially when it comes to procrastinating. Perfect example:
Me: Please clean your room.
Me: Because I asked you to (said so.)
Do I really need to explain to a child how, if she cleans her room, bugs won't live in the candy wrappers, she won't step on her toys and dirty socks won't smell her space? I don't think so. My kids are pretty smart. Common sense.
We don't have time to explain right now
There are things we need to do and attend, like jobs and appointments and life. Since when is, "My kid refused to put her pants on," an excuse for, "Why are you late for this meeting?"
Me: Put your pants on.
Me: Because we're going to be late and mom's boss will be mad, you'll miss important things at school and you sister will be late for her doctor appointment. (The kid doesn't really care. Time is like a foreign concept to them when you are running late.)
Me: Put your pants on.
Me: Because I said so.
I'm going with #2.
Sometimes it's not appropriate to tell your child why, because they're too young or they may be scared.
Recently, I was with my girls at a grocery store in the evening. A group of young men approached us as I was putting our things in the trunk. I told my daughters, "Get in the car."
My oldest asked, "Why?"
I said, "Because I said so."
She listened. The tone of my voice conveyed urgency and authority. She understood something was wrong and I didn't need or have time to explain to her.
The bottom line
I'm in charge, not my children. They don't always need an explanation, nor do they always deserve one. Because I discipline them with love and respect them, they respect me as their mother and leader. They trust I'm making the best decisions for them at the time.