Parenting

‘Because I Love You’

I’m one of those parents who, when faced with the eternal question of ‘WHY?’, for a long time reverted back to the old standby of ‘Because I said so.’

It’s clear…it’s concise….it establishes boundaries and sets limits and supports the rules.

It’s also, many times, an unclear message to my kids. It’s not the real reason for the rule being enforced or the boundary being established or the limit being set. I don’t know everything. I don’t want them to feel the house is a dictatorship. I don’t want to lessen myself as an authority figure over them, but I also don’t want them to feel they never have a voice in the house, and their wants and needs are not important to me, because they are.

Sometimes, sure, it IS just because I said so. It’s because the explanation is far too lofty and sophisticated for a young mind to wrap itself around. Or it’s because I’m tired and don’t have it in me to listen to the argument, or it’s something they’ve asked and been given an answer for a dozen times already, and I don’t want to debate, nor argue, and to say ‘because I said so’, then that will, as they say, be ‘that’.

At other times, though, it’s for reasons other than the above. Sometimes it’s because I’m in charge of their safety and well-being and have lived through similar scenarios with less than favorable outcomes, and I want what is best for them. It’s because I watch them and listen to them, and do my best to remember every single day what’s important to them, or frightening to them, or apt to have a long-term effect they hadn’t counted on, and having lived five times as long as they have, I have wisdom and experience that they can’t possibly have garnered in nine years of life.

It’s because I love them.

Every single day brings a test to a limit. “Why can’t I stay up until 10 on a school night?” “Why can’t I have more candy?” “Why do I have to brush my teeth?” “Why can’t I play an M rated video game?”

The answer to these questions and many more isn’t ‘because I said so’, it’s ‘because I love you.’ It’s because they need a good night of sleep, and too much sugar isn’t good for them, and they shouldn’t develop cavities, and don’t need to view wanton death and destruction as a ‘game’.

It’s because I love them.

Yeah, I know, they still ask ‘why’. They still try to argue and bargain and debate at times. But unlike prior times when they got ‘because I said so’ as an answer, and it invited arguments of ‘you don’t know everything’ and ‘you don’t want me to have any fun’ and ‘you’re just mean’, it’s having a very different result. It’s still a work in progress, but when they ask the inevitable ‘why’ in terms of things that are decisions made in their best interest…and get the answer of ‘because I love you’….there isn’t an argument they’ve come up with yet that trumps it. They want my love. They want signs and reassurances of that love. I want to give them those things…to not only talk the talk but walk the walk as a parent. Anyone can say ‘I love you’, and that’s important, but showing it is equally as important.

They may not like the way they get those signs of my love for them if it conflicts with a burning desire to sit in front of a television all day long, or dine on nothing but Sour Patch Kids and Root Beer, but when confronted with my love for them as the reason for not being allowed to do that, they at least have a reminder that I don’t make all the decisions I do to inflict pain upon them. I make many of them, most of them, for a very good, very heart-felt, very caring reason.

It’s because I love them.

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5 thoughts on “‘Because I Love You’

  1. Wendy says:

    You are an awesome dad. I wish I had known or thought of that response years ago… maybe it will still work with teen/young adults…

  2. This is brilliant and simple! In the moment I want to explain, yet as you said, their young minds likely can’t grasp the full love & logic that my explanation would entail. ‘I love you’ as opposed to ‘I said so’ naturally diffuses a potential argument. I’m going to try it. Thank you!

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