Because I said so seems like a perfectly valid reason to me.

I’m talking about kids and the old parental fallback position. I use it all the time. The funny part is, I have been called to task by a few people for being to lenient with my kids (I’ve also been attacked for being too mean-- go figure.)

Up until my kids were about 7 this was the only real reason for them to do anything:

Son: Why do I have to wear underwear?
Me: Son, go put on your drawers.
Son: Why? I don’t need them. Nobody can see.
Me: I said “Put on your drawers” boy.
Son: Why do I haveta?
Me: Because I said so.
After the age of 7 a little more explination was necessary, but in the end it’s still boils down to “because I said so.”:

Daughter: My elementary school is having a Midnight party on New Year’s Eve. Can I go?
Me: The party starts at midnight? No, I don’t think so.
Daughter:But it’s at school. The teachers will be there. All my friends will be there.
Me: You are not leaving this house at 11:30 on New Year’s Eve to go hang out with your friends until 2 in the morning, then either come sauntering back by yourself or expect either me or your father to freeze our asses off at 2 in the morning while fighting through drunken revelers to pick up your 12 year old butt.
Daughter: I won’t come home by myself. My friends will walk me. Why can’t I go?
Me: Because I said so.

Where do you stand on the “Because I said so” issure? You better tell me. Because I said so.

“Because I said so” is valid…the younger the kid, the more valid it is.

“Why can’t I watch more TV?”
“Because I SAID SO.”

“Why can’t I watch more TV?”
“Because it rots your brain.”

“Why can’t I watch TV?”
“Because it rots your brain by making it so you don’t have to use your imagination.”
“Oh…can I anyhow? PLEASE?”

In my no particularly humble opinion, “because I said so” is utterly valid until they’re ACTUALLY able to understand the ACTUAL reason. No matter how many new-age parenting books you read, you’re not going to be able to have a reasonable conversation with your 3-year-old if your 3-year-old doesn’t happen to be in a reasonable mood.

Boy are yo guys lenient:

6 y/o: Can I go outside with out my Jacket?

Me: No, It’s freezing out.

6 y/o: But…

Me: ::Raises eyebrows meaningly ::

6 y/o: ::runs to retrieve coat::

Nah I’m kidding though it does work 50% of the time, I often use the “Because I said so” for most parenting decisions. I will answer in more detail when it involves safety, or some such, regardless of age.

I’m much older than five and in some situations it is still a perfectly valid reason for why I do some things.

If my boss tells me to do something I do it. Knowing why he wants me to do it is nice, but that isn’t the reason I’m doing it. I’m doing it because he said so; doesn’t matter why he said so.

If you are in the military, that is really the sole reason you do just about anything. Because someone senior said so. Knowing why they said so is a bonus, but not at all required.

I agree that “because I said so” is a perfectly valid response, but it should be used in a sense of “bottom line is that I’m the boss” rather than as a way to avoid explanations. IOW, a good faith effort must be made to explain the real reasons for the decision (this may not apply in some circumstances to very young children) and if the kid disagrees with the reason - well too bad, do it because I said so.

But I would take exception to the way it was used in the second example of the OP. In it, the parent gives the ostensible reason (walking back alone or waking up the parents for a ride), and when the child quite properly refutes this reason, the parent resorts to “because I said so”. This suggests that the parent is not being forthright, has no real reason, and was merely seizing on a convenient excuse. This can only breed cynicism and disrespect. I would say that the parent should give the real reason in that circumstance.

Ah, memories…

As a parent now, I really, really, really try not to resort to saying “because I said so.” This is only because it was used (abused) by my parents on me:

Me (age 14): Dad, can I…?

Dad: No.

Me: But…

Dad; Because I said so.

He wouldn’t even glance up from his newspaper during this transaction. I never even got to the argument part because I never got the chance to say exactly what I wanted. grrrrrr…

So now that I’m a parent, if it gets to that point, I’ll say something like “because I’m your mother and that’s why.” It’s kinda the same thing though.

But, unlike my parents, I do actually listen to the arguments. My 9 year old, however, is particularly good at negotiating. She can find seemingly good reasons to support completely absurd notions. I give her “reasons why” relative to her level of understanding, and I don’t let the “negotiating” keep going on forever. I never just plain cut her off though either. It’s tough.

I had my kid sold on the idea that there was a “mommy rule book”. and in it were such gems as:

kids cannot wear shorts outside in the winter.

kids must go to bed before their moms.

and so on. I told him as soon as he was born I was handed the mommy rule book. Eventually, he asked to see it. And I said “they don’t let you keep it”

So, yea, I did it. Doesn’t work anymore, of course (he’s 17).

I don’t think there is anything wrong with my kids voicing objections. I guess that’s where I got the lenient rap, because I will listen. I’ll even change my mind given a good enough reason. But I am the final authority in my house (well, my husband has some say) and that’s that. I guess that’s how I got my meanness rap.

The second example is to show that the real, absolute reason my daughter could not go to the party was because I said so. I did not want my 12 year old daughter walking around Brooklyn at 2 am and I don’t care what her objections might be. If that makes my children cynical, they’ll have to be cynical.

I find “No” to be a better explanation.

As in:

Offspring: Can I get my eyebrow pierced/sleep over at Stacy’s when her folks are out of town/borrow your pistol to take to school/stay out 'til 4:00AM drinking?

Me: No.

Offspring: Why not?

Me: No.

Offspring: But WHY?

Me: No.

The only other one I used is “You’ll understand when you are older”. I am afraid of “If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?” because of the answers I might get.

Sometimes they want a serious explanation; sometimes they are just checking what they can get away with. Sometimes both. “No” works best in the last circumstance.


Its amazing how well the four year old stuff applies so well to convicts.

Explanation always leads to inconsistancies which they try to exploit, explanation leads to loopholes and exceptions.

“Them’s the rules” works best.


I should clarify that I was unaware that the cases you gave were actual incidents as they now appear to be. I am hesitant to make any pronouncements about actual incidents, as there may be nuances that are not evident. So my comments were and are treating the incident as a generic one, and only the facts given as relevant.

The problem I have is not with the fact that you would force your daughter to accept your authority as an ultimate reason. Rather, it is in the appearance of an arbitrary excercise of that authority. In particular, as you originally did give a reason which didn’t pan out, turning around and saying well I said so is not a good idea IMHO. I would end it off this way:

Daughter: I won’t come home by myself. My friends will walk me. Why can’t I go?
Me: I still don’t think it is a good idea to walking around Brooklyn at 2 AM. Who knows what might happen/you’ll do/things will lead to etc.
Daughter: Nothing is going to happen, everyone else is doing it etc. Why can’t I go?
Me: Because I said so.

At this point it is already clear why she can’t go - it’s just that she disagrees with the reason. Them’s the breaks.

I think this might be more desctructive in the long run. YMMV.

Shodan: Actually, come to think of it, a lot of the conversations in my house sound like that. There have been these exchanges as well:

“Mom, can I something random…say, 'stay up ‘til 10’?”
“But mom…”
“We’re not having an argument.”

<ignore child’s protestations>

I’ve also been known to say, “This isn’t an argument,” because he replies with, “Yes it is,” and I can say, “No it isn’t,” and I can start him off appreciating Monty Python at far too early an age. :smiley:

I think I like IzzyR’s reasoning. You should at least tell them why you’re doing what you’re doing. Or else they may think you’re just hassling them arbitrarily. They may not agree with your reasons, but it’s important to have reasons and to explain them. This will teach them that people should think about and justify (or at least explain) their actions instead of just doing whatever, whenever.

F’rinstance, let’s take some of Shodan’s examples…

Kid: Can I get my eyebrow pierced?
Parent: Okay. It might cost some money, so be sure you have enough saved up. Also, it might hurt a little bit. But if you want to, go for it.

Kid: Can I sleep over at Stacy’s when her folks are out of town?
Parent: Depends, did you ask her parents? It’s their house, and they need to give you permission to stay there. If one of your friends wanted to stay overnight here, you’d have to ask me. So you have to ask her parents if it’s OK. (And I’ll be asking them if you asked them, too, so don’t try and trick me.)

Kid: Can I borrow your pistol to take to school?
Parent: No, they’d kick you out of school and they’d take away the pistol and never give it back. That pistol was expensive, and I like it and want to keep it, and I don’t want to see you kicked out of school.

Etc, etc.

My mom did pretty much this with me, and I think it worked pretty well.


I’ve never had to use “because I said so” but I do find myself answering the 3-4 year olds with “because it just is/does” far to often.
" Why is she not here?"
" Because she’s sick and needs to stay home and rest."
" Why is she sick and needs to rest?"
" Because germs make people sick some times and resting makes us get better."
" Why do germs make people sick some times?"
" Because when we cough or sneeze germs get in the air and they make people sick."
" Why?"
<thinks about an easy to explain way, fails utterly>" They just do."
" Why do they just do?"
" Because they do. We all get sick some times"
" why…"
" Why are you walking on the leaves?"
" I can’t fly, can I?"
" No!"
" So I have to walk in the leaves, right? You’d walk in the leaves too if you weren’t in the swing now."
" Yeah… But why?"
“because there are leaves all over the playground.”
" Why?"
" Because the leaves fell of the trees."
" Why?"
" Because they fall of in the fall."
" Why?"
" Because they die."
" Why?"
" They just do."
" Why?"
" Because they do…"

Is there a way to stop the “whys”? is there??

You say “because I said so” , they should say "oh, so you DON’T really have a reason. Tell them the truth. Take the time to explain why “you said so”.

I’m certainly no expert, not having any kids, but I’m with Biggirl on this one. When she said “because I said so”, it sounds to me like what she is saying is “You may have reasons, and they may seem good to you, but you are a child and don’t always understand the big picture, and I am an adult and am responsible for you and your safety, so sometimes you just have to do what I say”. And this is perfectly valid to me. The parents are the final authority in the household, and as long as the decisions they make are based on what is best for the children, the children don’t always need a debate about it.

I hear that the ‘whys’ are often just a way for the kid to keep the conversation going. He wants you to keep talking and interacting with him. You can tell him the lifecycle of the trees, or how much you like walking through them and the nice crackly noise, or whatever, it doesn’t have to explain exactly why. YMMV!

I know you guys are talking about using the line on kids, but the absolute worst thing that a person can do is to drag the line into their grown-up world. I’m not talking about the military or dangerous jobs that require action first, explanations - if at all, much later.
I mean regular jobs where bosses or superiors use the line. To me it is equivilent to saying “you’re either too stupid to understand why (even though I expect you to do it flawlessly) or I’m to stupid to know myself”.

I worked one job in an isolated spot in BC (already not known for it’s intellegent population), where I heard things like: just, because - or the dreaded: That’s the way we’ve always done it… far too often.
eg: “why do we waste hours taking the stand pipes out and disinfecting them on a flow-through system when they never come in contact with the fish?”… “Duh… um, well, that’s the way we’ve always done it”. No wonder the company can’t afford to pay decently or keep anyone good for more than a few months.

Kids wouldn’t ask for permission if they didn’t have to have the parent’s OK. Right? So, if they could do something “because I said so” and not ask questions about it, why shouldn’t they accept not getting permission “because I said so”?

In either case, the parent is the supreme authority, and the kids know it, or they wouldn’t be asking in the first place. But it’s only natural that they should ask why not if permission is not forthcoming.

That being said, whenever possible, explanations should be given, so children can see the cognitive process their parents engage in when making decisions. This can be carried too far, or even not be appropriate for one reason or another, but it can often be used as a teaching moment between parent and child. Kids usually ask for permission and then argue about it because they want to test the limits of their independence and test their parents’ resolve. They know the answer will be “no”, but pushing the envelope is a necessary part of growth and maturity. Or maybe they’re just stupid.

ModernRonin2 said:

The only issue I have with this is that, in my household, there is no “depends” about it. My kids are not going to spend the night at a friend’s house if their parents aren’t home. If my kids know this rule and ask about it anyway, they’ll get the answer “no, because we don’t think it’s safe or wise to have minors staying overnight alone someplace.” That’s a rule, which still boils down to “because I said so”, even if I said so a while ago.

I think featherlou and DAVE have hit the nail on the head here. I don’t want my children to believe that my rules are arbitrary and they generally don’t. But sometimes they may think the rule unfair or that circumstances allow for an exception. In these cases, I win. Because I said so.

And I have to add, that underwear thing had me thinking for days. Why does he have to wear underwear? Because he might be in an accident and people will see he didn’t have any? Like I care much what other people think. Is it some sort of laundry issue? Comfort issue?

It really think that in this case it really was arbitrary. I just didn’t want the kid walking around without any underwear, so he had to wear them.