It was always maddening, when I had what I felt was a legitimate question and my mother would say, “Because I Said So.” I would fuss and fume, knowing that what I wanted to know was something I should know, and she was stopping me from knowing it. The least she could do was give me a valid reason in return, right? I vowed then and there that I would always give my children a solid reason.
Then, the other day…
“Dad, how come I can’t have my iPad as long as I want?”
“Because too much screen time can be bad for you.”
“But how come?”
“Because there’s a lot of action on it.”
“But how come?”
“Because I said so… now put it away.”
That’s when I realized I had it all wrong those many years ago. My mother hadn’t been trying to avoid telling me what I needed to know. She had been exasperated because sometimes there just wasn’t ever going to be an answer that would have satisfied me. There would have been an endless loop with her saying something logical and me responding with “But how come?” as if she had never spoken. So eventually she realized what would finally knock me in the head when dealing with my own children: At some point it’s okay to give up.
Because giving up doesn’t have to mean giving in. It means utilizing your position as the authority figure to escape from the endless loop that kids will throw at you until both you and they are hoarse. Now, if I can just learn to say it from the start instead of letting the dialogue begin to get out of hand. One step at a time, Sam. One step at a time.