Lucy was vividly recalling a turning point in her relationship with her mom over 50 years ago. She was graduating from 9th grade and told her mother that after the graduation ceremony she was going to spend the afternoon at a lake with some of her girlfriends. One of the other mothers was driving them to the lake and bringing lunch. Her mom replied “You’re not going.” When Lucy asked her mom why she couldn’t go, her response was “Because I said so”.
Lucy was enraged with her mother’s explanation. She angrily told her mother that she planned to go to the lake with her friends despite the fact her mother told her she couldn’t go. When her mother asked for an explanation, Lucy replied “Because I said so”. Lucy did go to the lake with her friends that day. Her relationship with her mother remained cool and unaffectionate throughout the rest of her teenage years.
When parents declare to their children something will or will not happen “because I said so”, they are trying to use their authority to end the discussion. A better approach is to carefully listen to a child’s request and ask questions to address any concerns you have before deciding. Providing respectful, thoughtful explanations for your decisions will help maintain good relationships with your children even if the decision isn’t the one they wanted.