Rarely does anything make my skin crawl more than hearing a parent say, "Because I said so!"

I had a stepfather who really loved that line, mostly because I am firm he truly hated me (the feeling was quite mutual) and that he enjoyed his power and control over me. He usually did not have a good or valid reason to say no to me, he just wanted to ruin my day, which he managed with regularity. I vowed to never, never respond to my children with, "Because I said so."

Then my son hit the terrible twos. Over and over, time again, we hear, "Why?" until, totally out of patience, we want to turn around, and answer "BECAUSE I SAID SO!" (In other words, quit asking because I am NOT going to answer you one more time!) So hard to avoid that response and so easy to succumb to.

I used, "It just is, dear" (over and over and over) and "Why not?" which usually caused us to laugh and hopefully, the subject might get dropped. "God made it that way" worked until I got another "Why?" and explaining to my child that he would just have to ask God that question opened another can of worms. An honest, "You know, I really don't know" worked well, too, except I did not want to over use that and make my children think their mommy didn't know much of anything. No response and a simple loving smile worked well, too, especially when it became a game where my son was wanting to purposely drive me insane.

Long lengthy explanations and silly stories like why jam is called jam were sometimes fun if my patience held out. "Mr. John Henry Jamm was picking fruit one day, and accidentally squished an apple under his foot, RIGHT on top of the piece of bread he was saving for lunch. Now his apple orchard was MANY miles away from his house, so he couldn't just pop back for another piece, and he was hungry, so he decided......"

Either my son would be fascinated by my tale, or I would suddenly discover I had been talking to myself, he had wandered off a long time ago, bored. Unfortunately, this opened up "Silly Stories" for bedtime once they were old enough to realize that was exactly what they were hearing and then I spent their formative years straining my brain for another enchanting, silly story.

Then my children became teens. An entirely different ball game, but the rules still apply. I wanted to avoid "Because I said so" at all costs.

I tried to include the reasoning behind the "No" as often as I could, but that oft times led to their arguing the decision, so I had to install the "No means no" rule. Then I found myself saying, "No" for truly no apparent reason, maybe because I was distracted or in a bad mood, maybe because I did not want to reveal my true concern and purpose for saying no. Being of the mind that once you say "No" you should not change your mind, I sat the kids down and made a deal with them.

If I said no to their request, they had one opportunity to change my mind. One. Not two, no three. One. Think carefully, compose your protest well, but most importantly, make sure you have my full attention. This gave me an opportunity to weight the situation, look at my motives for saying no originally, re-evaluate my response and change my mind to say yes, given this was truly appropriate.

I hope they carry this method on with their own children and rarely, if ever, say, "Because I told you so!"

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