While wandering through various Internet parenting sites the other day, I came across a professional who advises parents to never say, “Because I said so.” She maintains that if a parent lacks a “logical reason” for a request, the parent should not make the request. And when a child asks for a reason, she tells parents to encourage their children to challenge authority “because the authority over them might not always be looking out for them like you do.”
What say we deconstruct this advice and have a little fun in the process?
First, imagine that a parent wants a child to pick up his toys for no reason other than said parent has reached the limit of her tolerance for clutter. What is the “logical reason” here? “I want it done” fails the test. It is subjective.
Furthermore, it may be impossible to secure a consensus of parents who agree that the toys should be picked up. And if the parent in question is seemingly the only person who wants the toys up off the floor and put away, then is it not “logical” that the parent should pick them up herself? It seems that this reasoning applies to any instruction to a child that does not involve the child’s health or safety. Therefore, no parent should ever again request a child to do something simply because the parent wants it done.
Now let’s move onto encouraging children to challenge authority because the authority in question may not have the same interest in the child as the parent. The fact is, no one is more likely than the child’s parents to act out of a desire to promote a child’s best interests. By that standard, the child should obey no one but his parents. But remember, he should obey only if they give him a logical reason for the instruction in question. Otherwise, it is logical that they perform the task themselves.
I think it can be safely asserted that this expert who recommends against “Because I said so” in favor of “logical reasons” is not at all logical. At least, her argument makes no sense to me.
One of a parent’s duties is to prepare his or her child to function responsibly as an adult. That requires that the parent bring reality into the child’s life, slowly but surely. One of the realities I live with is this: I must obey legitimate authority whether said authority gives me a logical reason or not. For example, I pay a hefty chunk of my income to the government. For at least 80 percent of this payment I have been given no logical reason at all; nonetheless, I pay it. Because they say so.
Likewise, I am given no logical reason why when I cross the border from one state to another, the speed limit sometimes decreases. The road looks the same, as do the surroundings. Nonetheless, I slow down. Because they say so.
In recent months, unknown persons have viewed me without clothes on at several airport security areas. No one will ever give me a logical reason why a law-abiding citizen of the United States must submit to this procedure, but when the security person tells me to do so, I put my hands in the air, face in the proper direction, and smile for the camera. Because they say so.
In light of the above, I submit that telling a child that he must obey instructions from legitimate adult authority figures for no reason other than they tell him to obey is right, proper, logical and in the child’s best interest — not to mention everyone else’s.
A psychologist, Rosemond answers questions on his website at www.rosemond.com.