Moving Past “Because I Said So”
When you parent small children, you don’t expect to have to explain your reasoning every time you tell your child to do something. You just assume that they will obey. However, when your child reaches the pre-teen years, he may begin pushing back against an authoritarian parenting style. If you don’t change your style, you will set the stage for unnecessary conflict when your child reaches the teenage years.
When you use the dreaded phrase, “Because I said so!” you are cutting off communication with your kids. There is nothing wrong with expecting your kids, even your teens, to comply with your wishes because you are their parents. However, problems will arise when your teen senses that you don’t have a logical reason behind your demands. Additionally, if your teen gets a sense that you are “pulling rank” because you merely don’t want to be inconvenienced, he will begin to push back against you.
Use the following three strategies to get your teen to cooperate without resorting to “Because I said so!”
* Respect your teen’s time
Parents often expect teens to instantly obey when they are asked to clean their rooms or help out around the house. However, teens resent it when parents expect them to drop everything to do household chores. Explain to your kids that you want to allow them to choose when to do their chores. But, if they forget their chores or don’t do them in a timely manner, it is frustrating. Give your child a deadline with a firm consequence, and don’t be afraid to follow through if your child drops the ball.
* Offer Choices
Giving your child several acceptable options puts the ball in his court, as teens need practice in making decisions on their own. You may want to offer your own opinions, but reinforce that you will stand behind him no matter what he decides. This will also give your teen confidence that you trust him to make a wise choice.
* Listen to Your Teen
Teens can accept a “No,” if they feel that they have been heard. Resentment builds when they feel that you have turned them down without letting them have their say. Sometimes you may have to say, “I hate to disappoint you, and I understand what you are saying, but the answer is no. Here’s why I’ve made my decision, and I hope you can understand my viewpoint.” You are not weakening your authority by kindly explaining your reasoning. Even if your teen doesn’t see things the way that you see them, it’s still okay to tell them no.
Parenting teens is one of the hardest things that a mom or dad will ever do. Make sure that your kids feel loved and keep communication lines open to keep the relationship intact.