“Because I said so” has gotten a bad reputation, but it’s a great phrase.
It’s been getting a honest workout at our house these days.
I feel strongly that our actions as parents need to be purposeful, that we do need to consider why we do what we do. I also feel strongly that these reasons should be shared, as appropriate, with children.
However, I do not think that children have the right for reasons on demand, before obedience. So I’ve been working to help my children understand that they need to be obedient before they ask why. I’ve also told my children more than once that I may not explain why sometimes. The desire to know why (curiosity) must be tempered by the Holy Spirit.
Here’s an example that happened last week. I asked one child to bring me a bag of batteries that had been left on our dining room table. Knowing that I was looking for a particular kind, that child announced that they were not to be found in the bag, and left the bag on the table!
Now it just so happened that I knew the batteries I wanted were not in the bag, that I wanted to put the batteries away, and that I was searching for the correct batteries in a different place. I simply hadn’t shared those reasons with my children.
I’ve also noticed that one of my children quizzes me after I give a motherly command. It looks almost like a desire for clarification, but I’m realizing it’s actually an evaluation of the request. In response to the attitude that one must understand or agree with mom before obeying, I’ve been refusing to give reasons for my actions.
Questions I’ve asked:
- Do you believe that mom was requesting you to sin, or was sinful in any way? [answer has always been no, so far]
- If mom asked you to do something sinful, what should you do? [answer is mostly shrugs, up to this point]
- If mom asked you to do something, and you had a better way that was different, what should you do? [I was surprised that the answer was, “do it the better way.”]
What’s interesting about this last answer is that my first reaction is to make sure my children understand how to appeal. I hate the thought of stifling my children, refusing to hear the ideas flowing from their little innovative, intelligent brains. [Type A mothers, please stifle your coughs! Sometimes I’m slow to understand things.]
As I think about my reaction, though, I remember that my children know how to appeal. I’ve taught them this. The problem isn’t that they have a better idea, but that they are resisting authority.
I don’t want them to be blindly obedient, without thought. Only God has absolute authority, not humans.
On the other hand, I also don’t want them to be constantly demanding to know everything before following orders. That’s a recipe for chaos in the military, within a family structure, and in God’s kingdom.
Maybe I want some middle ground? Seems we always come back to wisdom.
And right now, I sense that my children need more instruction in the “submit to authority” side of the scale.That’s why for the time being at least, you may hear at our house
Because I said so.