“Because I said so.”
That is a parent’s favorite go to phrase. For a parent, I suppose, it is a sometimes necessary tool. You want them to keep their hands off the stove, after all, and the endless litanies of “why” get a bit too much. So you say it. You say it because it keeps them safe until they are old enough to get it. You say it because it works, and you keep on saying it. You say it until it becomes a comfortable habit for you.
Before long they are old enough to get it, but you keep on saying it, because it is what you have always done. So they end up obeying reflexively, because you said so, or chafe at your will. Either way they are not acting in a critically considered fashion, but by now that is not important. By now it is more than a need to keep them safe. You have reached the point where “because I said so” has become a necessary part of your world. When they challenge it, they are challenging you. Without it, you are not the same person, and you do not know what that makes you.
It does not matter that “because I said so” now works for the other people in their life: teachers, coaches, principals, employers, and cops. It does not matter that you have either stolen their ability to consider choices for themselves. It does not matter that they now either blindly follow the leader or reject them out of hand, regardless of the merits of their ideas. It does not matter because you are still comfortable, and it is perfectly okay, because it fits along with another favorite phrase “that’s the way it has always been.”
You had to grow up with your parents saying “because I said so” so why should your children not? You had to live with bullies, you had to live with a culture of enforced conformity, you had to live with so many things that you did not like but just accepted because they said so, so your kids can too.
Generations of conditions without premisses and we have all learned to accept it. We learn to accept it and eat whatever our authority of choice feeds us. We learn to accept it and keep spinning our wheels. We spin the wheels and wear them, our world, and each other out. Because after a while, we learn to stop saying “but why.” Because it is all we know now, because as parents, as coaches, as teachers and supposed mentors, we have taken the path of least resistance.
- A note to myself (literatureandmusic.wordpress.com)
- I grew up with authoritarian parents (lanahobbs.wordpress.com)
- Family matters: What children want to know (getreading.co.uk)
- 12 Spiritual Principles to Live By (psychologytoday.com)