Because I Said So

Of all the things I know I am “not supposed” to say as a parent, there’s one that is getting harder during this time of high stress in my life.  But no matter how tense my nerves or stretched my patience, I know I am not allowed to answer my children’s WHY? with “because I said so.”

Buy this poster at (then hang it where no one can see it but you)

Buy this poster at (then hang it where no one can see it but you)


OHMYGOD, I really, really want to.

Just once I would love to say to the inquiry “why can’t I jump off the ice cooler onto my brother’s stomach?” with “because I said so.”  I never do. I always explain the fundamentals of danger and safety and why the force of a 36-pound big sister landing on a 30.5-pound little brother might result in ruptured organs and then an ambulance ride, followed by an extended hospital stay.  I tell them both that their safety is important to me– the most important thing– to me.

It would be one thing if they asked why not? only a few times a day.  Or an hour.  It feels like it’s all day long.  Why can’t we chew gum? Why can’t we have waffles for a snack 45 minutes before dinner? Why can’t we go to the park at 9PM? Why can’t I wear your favorite Tory Burch flats to run in the mud?

Just once, I would love the luxury, the forbidden delight of saying, “because I said so”.  I don’t because it’s just not what parents these days do for a host of great reasons.  Honestly, I am afraid that I wouldn’t be able to stop there.  I’d keep going.  Like a gigantic filibuster. Or diarrhea.

I’d say, “I am the mom. I am in charge around here.  I don’t have to explain anything to do. I do because that’s what parents are into these days and all of my friends explain everything to their kids.  But just so you know, I get to say how we do things around here and I’m sick of explaining the world to you so you don’t think I am mean or withholding or a total buzz kill or end up in extensive group therapy (because that shit is time consuming and expensive).  I’ve never once denied you a single thing because I wanted you to suffer.  My goals concern keeping  you alive and, on occasion, keeping my hearing and sanity in tack, because, SILLY ME, I think that you might enjoy walking through the next few years with a mother who lives at home and not at the mental hospital.”

I don’t say that.  I never will.   At my core I believe my kids deserve explanations about how I came to my mean, old NO! that ruins their fun.  I certainly don’t want my kids growing up thinking that the world is run by capricious, wanton authority figures who squelch their pleasure for sport.  But for the love of all the stupid things they want to do that might get them maimed, I want them– just for once– to accept my no you cannot without any further pressing or pushing or demand for more.

And some day when I am old and incontinent and they won’t let me stay up late watching re-runs of The Golden Girls or let me spend my money on infomercial products or psychic hotlines, my why not?s will haunt their every waking hour.


37 thoughts on “Because I Said So

  1. I love this post! I explain everything, too. Mainly because I want to appeal to their sense of logic. Which works great with Maggie, but I have a feeling my youngest is going to be a different story. And there are times when the logical explanation isn’t enough for Maggie, and she keeps asking the same “WHY” question over and over, and finally I say, “NO, and quit asking or you’ll be in trouble!” Everyone’s got their limits, you know? They’ll get theirs some day, when they become parents. At that point, I’ll have to try hard not to spout another parenting cliche: “I TOLD YOU SO!”

  2. I recently gave in to the because or because I said so or because it just is or because that’s how it works. It’s not often and normally I like explaining, especially my kind of explanation because it’s usually over their head on purpose. It’s fun. I take it where I can get it.

  3. You know, I worked at a big law firm, so I can safely say that the world is indeed run by capricious, wanton authority figures.

  4. I may be old-fashioned, but “No.” is a complete sentence. There is no “because” required after when its said by a parent or authority figure (grandparent, teacher, or boss).

  5. I feel like “Because I said so” sometimes is the explanation. Sometimes it is the reason. I could be wrong, but they’ve turned out pretty well thus far. Fingers crossed.

  6. I’m totally with everybody who says that “because I said so” is perfectly acceptable – I’m not a mom but I have worked in pre schools, and I think it’s perfectly reasonable to *sometimes* let kids know that they just can’t do whatever it is because that’s how it is. Not every time, but there’s definitely a little wiggle room!

  7. do they watch Peppa Pig by chance? b/c I’ve started calling Lovie “Peppa” when she starts with her “Whys” b/c it’s *clear* that she got that from the show b/c Peppa does that–asks Why to everything her mummy and daddy pig say. it’s gotten my point across.

  8. Love this! As a recovering explainer, I’d love a simple “no” for my toolbox. But with my kids, I’m with you. I’ll explain until I lose my mind, then let someone else explain why their mom’s head spins around at times. Great post!

  9. Heh heh heh. All I can say to this post is … “just you wait, lady.” Avoid “because I said so” all you want. But when the smartass 12 year old has ALL the answers, when the 8 year old insists and insists…and when they are BOTH WRONG, you can say TOLD YOU SO.
    Conversely, you could try answering your kids with just “because.” Why can’t they put beans up their noses, use the snorkel in the bathtub, practice pitching a baseball in the kitchen… the answers to all things: because.
    Not even ‘because I said so.” Just… Because.

  10. Here’s one I learned from a friend that has worked wonders for me. I tell them No. They ask, why not? I say, “Because it’s the law”. Done and Done. Something about the police and the law shuts them up. It’s just the law. Period. (of course this won’t work anymore once they get out of Elementary school…but until then…I’m the frickin’ POLICE)

  11. I’m a little late to the party here but I also think “no” is a complete sentence. I also find silence, when I’ve already fully explained something to be completely reasonable. I just move on, start cooking dinner, etc. If the boy is really nagging something fierce repeating himself over and over I bend down and look him in the eye. I repeat exactly what he’s saying and then say did I hear what you said? When he says yes I ask him if he heard what I said. He can usually repeat it back right away and that ends the conversation every time.

  12. I say it. I never wanted to, but sometimes I’m so tired of all of the voices I don’t even want to hear my own.

    Also, I use Carinn’s technique. Going through the “we’ve been over this” exercise reinforces that I get what he wants from me, but I’ve addressed it and I am the grown up and he has to accept that sometimes. He got to say what he wanted, but it’s done. Move on. For me that’s about respect. I respect him to explain when I can, but he has to respect me when I say I’m done.

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