Are You A “Because I Said So” Type Of Parent?

Over at one of my many other jobs, there was a fantastic article on the purpose of “Because I said so.” The author wrote:

We believe in a healthy self-esteem for our child and in allowing her to express herself. But something is wrong when parents and children starting communicating like they are the same age.

So, somebody please answer this question for me: What has happened to the days of “Because I said so?” I heard it growing up, and I am pretty sure the majority of the folks reading this are familiar with the parental edict that means no talking back, no asking questions, no trying to persuade me to change my mind. We are doing XYZ because I said so. Period. This doesn’t mean a child doesn’t have a voice in the home. However, it does mean the child is the child and the parent is the parent.

Amen to that. But there was one comment on the article that made me stop, pause and really think about how I can be more effective with my children when it comes to discipline. I really want them to be critical thinkers, to understand the way the world works and give them the lessons that will help them thrive once they are out of my house. This mom just went and put all types of ideas in my head:

What does “because I said so” really teach them? I believe there are other ways to teach respect for authority other than by just saying “because I said so”. We believe that if you instill values and teach them to make conscious decisions in line with their values then they learn to think for themselves, reason, and make decisions in line with what they value versus “because I said so”. As they get older and the influence of peer pressure gets stronger, we don’t want them to make decisions based on defying “because I said so”, as a way to exert their independence, we want them to make decisions in accordance with what they value.

Here is a personal testimony.

My 10 year old son made a conscious decision to write on our freshly painted walls this evening and got caught in the act by his dad. We used that moment to teach yet another lesson in respect and integrity. He didn’t respect his room and he didn’t do the right thing when he thought no one was looking. The consequences for his actions are that he has to write a paper. He has to define respect and integrity, why it is important to be respectful and have integrity, and explain what it means to him and how he should have applied it to this situation. Not only does he have to write it but he has to type it and present it to the court of Mom and Dad. Our hope is that this will stick with him and be more of a lesson learned that he can apply to other situations as he gets older. I told him when he was 5 not to write on the walls “because I said so” and I strongly feel that “because I said so” is the reason we caught him writing on the walls tonight…lol! He did not align his actions with the values that we are instilling.

That was pretty incredible. I’m not sure I would have come up with anything like that as a consequence of writing on the wall. I bet that son will think twice before doing anything like that again!

What about you? Are you a “Because I said so” type of parent? 


  1. I tried the whole “because I said so” thing, but another parent whose opinion I respect suggested that I try to explain certain things to my 3 year old son. He needs to understand why he shouldn’t run in the street, or why he shouldn’t touch the stove. So now I take the time to explain why certain things should/shouldn’t be done. It does become a little frustrating at times, but I just have to remember that he’s just a child that wants to understand why mommy or daddy said NO!

  2. Hmm, I’m in the middle on this. I firmly believe a child needs to be in a child’s place. If I say something, it goes… there is no questioning me about my decision or trying to get out of it. I know what’s best for my child. I take every opportunity that I can to teach my son lessons and how certain actions have consequences, but am I going to sit there and explain to a child my everything I expect for him to carry out at that moment? NO!

    Certain things like, thanking someone for something they do/give you, having manners in general, showing respect for other adults, sharing with other kids/people, and so on IS something that you should explain and have instilled in your child by a certain age. There are special values within those things, so just saying, “because I said so” in that instance shows poor parenting skills to me. Basically, as with most things, I think there needs to be a balance and you may have to adjust it accordingly based on your child(ren)’s personality. I have a lot more faith in my son because he “knows better”. I’m old school, so I parent differently than most mothers my age, but I believe it’s a huge factor contributing to my son’s awesome behavior (most of the time) and overall personality. Jaedyn considers us best friends and I pray it stays that way forever, but I’m mama first and foremost!

  3. Charlene James says:

    My 5 year old asks “But why?” a lot. Every so often I explain, other times I give him ‘the look’ and say “Because I’m the boss, and I told you to do it”. My response all depends on A) How he asks (tone of voice), B) Whether he needs to know why, such as in dangerous situations, and C) What he is doing.

    Yesterday, he got too big for his britches. We have a narrow hallway leading to our bedrooms, and so he decided to put a foot on each side and climb up so his legs were like this ^ against the walls. I told him to stop it, and he said “But why?”, all while still climbing upward. So I gave him ‘the look’, told him if I tell him to do something, he’d better do it right away, and not to disrespect me, and to go sit down somewhere before he got into further trouble.

    Every so often, I do need to remind them who the parents are in the house. Well, my husband doesn’t have that problem so much because his voice is loud and deep.