Google+ Authentic Parenting: Be wary of the word 'because'

Friday, April 9, 2010

Be wary of the word 'because'

When it comes to technical explantions, the word because is just fine. When it comes to parenting however, one should refrain from using it as much as possible.

The word because often takes away any room for discussion, it kind of works as a full stop. 'Because' is also used as a way to avoid responsability, or to evade the question it tries to answer.

Situation 1:
Boy: Mom, why do I have to wear that sweater?
Mom: Because I said so!

Why we must avoid this situation:

  • the boy's question is not answered, which shows little respect to the child's genuine interest and only teaches him that his current conversational partner is not a person to turn to, and that his questions don't matter, so he'd better shut up in the future.
  • In saying "Because I said so!" the mother in this example abuses the mental and physical power she has over her child. It is in fact pure coercion
  • "Because I said so" is a masked threat, what it says is: 'don't argue with me, and do as I tell you to, or else'
  • There is no possibility to open up a dialogue in this example
  • The child has no rights and has to go along meekly
What should the mother say instead?
It's very cold outside, I think you might need a sweater. You can check for yourself if you'd like, or we can pick another sweater if you don't want to wear this one.

Situation 2:
Mom: Everybody! Come down to eat!
Boy: Why can't I finish watching?
Mom: Because dinner is served.

In this situation, the mother does not take responsability, instead, she places the weight of the world on the dinner that magically served itself. Of course, the boy knows that in fact it is his mother who cooked and served dinner, so it also pushes the child into feeling guilty. Nowhere in this situation is anybody allowed to think. 

Situation 3:
Mom: Put on a sweater when you go outside.
Kid: I don't want to?
Mom: You have to, because it's cold outside.

Again, the mother evades responsability by putting the blame on the weather. In this situation, there is the inherit possibility of future shaming. (If the child catches a cold, the mom might say: I told you so, completely demeaning the child's choices). And again, there is the coercion in this example.

You might recognise the exampes I have given, for these are communicational patterns that are being used by parents all the time. In defining what is wrong with these current practices and tackling how we can change them, we can try to make changes in the way we talk to our children.
Non-violent communication can give you an alternative for the communication dynamics within our family.



  1. I'm so happy to have access to this words before to get pregnant.

  2. Barbara, how wonderful that you are informing yourself already!


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