No! Because I said so…


How many times have you heard yourself make this statement to your kids? Was this also something you heard often growing up? Well, I rarely ever heard these words, at least not the last part of the statement, “because I said so…”

Now, my parents most certainly told me “no” many times. But, it was never just because they felt like saying it or just simply because they had the authority to say it.

So, where am I going with all this?

Of course, you are the parent, and you have every right to tell your children no, and you most certainly need to many times. However, have you thought about how your children receive your negative response if the only explanation they get is “because I said so?”

Here is what I mean. When we tell our children that they can’t do something, or tell them to do something, we almost always have a good reason for what we say. What might some of those reasons be?

Maybe our reason is for their protection or maybe it is to teach them a lesson. Generally, it is for their benefit in some way.

The problem with just saying “no” and not giving a reason is that most times kids really don’t understand why they can’t or shouldn’t do what they want to do. On the other hand, they don’t understand why you tell them to do something that they should do.

When this happens, the child is left feeling confused and frustrated, and assuming that you are just being mean, that you don’t care about their wants, or that you don’t want them to have any fun.

Don’t get me wrong, occasionally there will be times when it may not be appropriate to give a reason for your decision. However, in most circumstances this is not the case.

What are the advantages of discussing, with our kids, the reasons for our decisions regarding their lives?

  • Understanding – Our kids are not left feeling like we don’t care about their desires. If we take the time to explain to them that we are trying to protect them or teach them a lesson, they will be more receptive to the lessons we are trying to get across to them.
  • Communication – By helping your children understand the decisions you are making, it will keep the channels of communication open. They will realize that you want to talk to them and discuss with them what is taking place in their lives.
  • Trust – Because your kids learn at a young age that you only have their best interest in mind, once they get older they will be more likely to ask for your advice when they have their own decisions to make.

How do I know this really works?

My mom always took the time to explain to me why she said “no” to things I wanted to do. Likewise, she explained why she told me to do things that I really didn’t want to do at times.

Even though, I didn’t like her decisions sometimes, I always understood that she was just interested in my well-being, and that she was trying to teach me how to be safe, or how to become a better person. Because of this, I never felt like she was intruding in my life even after I got older.

Now, I always try to be sure that I sit down with my kids, even my 1 1/2 year old, and discuss with them why I give them the answers that I give, or why I tell them to do what I tell them to do.

I believe that communication is the number one factor in teaching, protecting and developing a relationship of trust with our kids, just as it is with many other areas of our lives.

On more than one occasion, I have thanked my mom for taking the time to talk things out with me. Going the extra mile takes a little more effort and a little more time, but in the end your kids will thank you for it.

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Posted on April 10th, 2009 in Kids and Family | 4 Comments
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  • steadymom says:

    Thanks – this is so true. A good reminder.

    steadymom’s last blog post..what do you think?

  • Amanda, I really like this post. My husband and I are trying for a baby, and we don’t have good parenting examples.

    I guess the question I would have here is at what point does explaining give way to a child asking, “Why?” when they’re told no (which, in my book, borders on disrespectfulness). I ask this because I have a friend whose son will not do what he is told if he doesn’t deem it appropriate based on the lengthy explanations he gets from the parents. That would be my greatest fear!

    • Amanda says:

      First of all, as I said in my post, there will be times when it isn’t appropriate to give the child a specific reason, and there will be times when the child is not going to fully understand “why.”

      As far as your friend’s child, if they are giving him explanations as to why they are telling him what to do, I believe they are doing the right thing. Unfortunately, as a parent many times we have to make decisions that our children don’t agree with, but we are still the parents and the authority. In that situation, if the child does not respond accordingly when he or she has been told what to do, whether given an explanation or not, then other disciplinary action may be required. Believe me, I really hate disciplining my children, but it’s necessary many times.

      The main point I was trying to get across here is that most times, I believe by taking time to talk to your kids, eventually they will learn that you really love them and want the best for them. I hope this has helped answer your question.

  • Kim says:

    Hi, My parents did not explain why they were saying no and I better not ask them. I thought my name was “No” LOL. I always knew that I was loved by my parents, without them having to explain anything to me. I grew up with the no means no and don’t question me.

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