The Daily Groove

"Because I Said So!"

You know the scene...

Child: "Why do I have to?"
Parent: "Because I said so!"

If your parents ever pulled that one on you, you probably vowed you'd never say it to your future kids.

But even the most repugnant acts of unkindness are rooted in life-positive impulses that have been distorted in some way, and there’s value in finding the good in such acts.

The good thing about "because I said so" is that it puts your personal power where it should be: in you. (And if you are pulling rank, it's more honest to say so than to pretend you have no choice.)

Of course, there are many better ways to respond to your child than to say, "because I said so." But you might try saying it silently to yourself every now and then — just to remind yourself that your Authentic Power is within, and it's bigger than all the explanations and justifications you could ever come up with.

See also:
WordWatch: "Because"

Comments (closed)


I love it when you say stuff like this Scott:

"But even the most repugnant acts of unkindness are rooted in life-positive impulses that have been distorted in some way, and there’s value in finding the good in such acts."

It's really life-changing stuff.

"Because I said so" is better than "I told you so" :-)

I realized recently that sometimes "because I said so" means I'm not feeling connected enough to myself to realize that my intuition says so. I have a gut feeling that "no" is the right answer, and I don't have a rational explanation. Instead, I end up saying (after things go sour), "See? I told you so!" :-P

Re: "Because I Said So!"

A new subscriber wrote this:

...I think explaining the reasoning behind something gives the child tools to be confident and eventually cultivate their own power as a strong person. My mother always explained things to me and when I heard "because I said so" from other adults it confused me. I wanted to learn about the world, not be blindly dominated.

My response to her:

If you keep reading The Daily Groove every day, you'll eventually realize that when something I write seems like dominator tactics, it means I'm challenging you to look beyond the usual categories and explore the subtler distinctions. Supporting the shift from domination to partnership is the core purpose of my work.

Helping children cultivate self-empowerment is precisely why we must see the positive potential of "because I said so" and not throw out the baby with the bathwater just because the phrase has been used in disrespectful ways.

Living a self-empowered life means KNOWING your truth in a way that transcends reason. A newborn child may be utterly dependent on others, but she is self-empowered in the sense that she's born knowing she's WORTHY of existing and satisfying her desires. Conventionally parented children are trained out of that knowing — conditioned to believe that their desires must be justified. But if a baby could talk and you asked her why she should be held and nursed and loved, she might very well answer, "Because I said so!" No intellectual understanding or justification is required for her to know she's worthy.

As parents, there are times when, after consulting our hearts and considering everyone's needs and desires, we just know what to do, yet no amount of reasoning will convince our children to agree. These are times when we need to remember that "because I said so" is not always a domination ploy. Yes, this is a slippery slope, but if your heart is in the right place — the partership place — then "because I said so" can be an expression of compassionate leadership that ultimately relieves your child of the scary feeling of having too much responsibility and having to understand complexities beyond his current capacity.

To be clear, I generally don't recommend using the exact phrase "because I said so." The important thing is to stay connected to your Authentic Power. Offering a developmentally appropriate explanation can be helpful, but when I see parents explaining their decisions to their children (especially toddlers), more often than not they seem to be disconnecting from their power — giving it away to the "false god" of reason and inadvertently teaching their children to do the same.

Personally, my best parenting moments have been those with the fewest words. However, if you feel self-empowered as you offer explanations to your child, then I see no harm in it. But if you ever feel like you "have to" or "should" explain yourself, you might want to try the heart-centered version of "because I said so" — or its wordless equivalent of simply knowing what you know, trusting your intuition, and being fully present with your child no matter how he or she reacts to your "unreasonable" response.

Regardless, I appreciate that you're thinking for yourself and not following my advice just because I said so. ;)