Because "I said so…"

by | Apr 1, 2009 | Every Day Life

As a teenager I swore I would never do or say some of the things my parents did. I was convinced I could be a better parent.
For instance, I would understand my kids and listen to them. (How many of you are laughing already?) I informed my parents of all the things they were doing wrong and how I was going to do it differently. They would just laugh. It would make me so mad and I would think to myself, “You just go ahead and laugh. I will show you.”

Good thing I just thought those words instead of speaking them out loud, because I would have never lived them down. I am already having trouble living down the comments that did come out of my mouth. You know that old saying, “The older I get the smarter my parents get.” Well it’s an “old saying” for a reason – it is true.
I have been living with teenagers and a young twenty- something for several years now. I have learned the hard way what my parents knew so well – the teenage years are God’s way of making it easier to kick them out of the nest. I think that is the only way with teenagers.
Now this doesn’t mean that you love them any less or that you wouldn’t still lay down your life for them in a heartbeat. It just means there can only be one king and queen of the domain and they are not it.
When my precious boys were born and I gazed into their sweet little faces, never once did I envision the turmoil of the teenage years. Yes, there was a lot of joking about the “terrible twos” and much advice to enjoy these days of infancy before the chaos hit. But no one said anything about preparing for adolescence.
I wasn’t too worried. Remember, I had a plan for the teenage years. For those of you who have had teenagers – yes it is time to start laughing again. For those of you not quite there yet, pay close attention. I was going to reason with my children and explain our rules. I was going to make compromises and let them express themselves. This all sounds so good on paper and as you discuss it theoretically, but in practice, it is a disaster.
After many hours, days and months of trying to reason with my children and get them to see the logic of our rules and decisions, I now know why my parents went straight for the, “Because I said so,” answer or the “As long as you live under my roof” reprimand. I always thought that was so unfair. But thinking back, I realize I was just like my kids. There would have been nothing that they could have said to make me see things their way. I wanted my own way!

The only reason a teenager asks the question, ‘why?’ — as in; “Why can’t I go to the party?” “Why can’t I stay out as late as everyone else?” “Why can’t I go see that movie?” “Why do I have to go to bed now?” — is so they can argue and try to get you to change your mind. The list is endless.
There is no telling how many hours I have wasted trying to get my kids to the point where they would say something like, “I understand why you and dad have these rules. I don’t really like them, but I understand you want the best for me and I will respect that.” It never happened. They don’t really want to know why, they just want the opportunity to try and wear you down so they can get their way.
I will confess I have lost a few of these battles by becoming weary. My parents obviously knew there was no argument with, “Because I said so.” Oh, it may make your teenager really mad, but here’s a news flash: they will be really mad anytime they don’t get their way.
What’s funny is there are times my children seem to think I have spent my entire life plotting and planning ways to make their lives miserable. Instead of fighting these manipulative accusations, I have now begun to respond with, “Yes, you have figured it out. As I rocked you to sleep when you were a baby I was planning all the ways I could ruin your life.”
This will usually result in a momentary reprieve from the fighting. Notice I said momentary, so enjoy the peace and quiet while they storm off to their room, slam the door and think of another reason “you are so unfair.”
Let me end with a little encouragement here. I have learned it is my job to be “unfair”, “old-fashioned”, “controlling”, and even occasionally “stupid.” I have also learned, the saying is true, “the older they get, the smarter I get.” So hang on, do your job and wait it out. Those of you not yet living with teenagers, remember your two best friends will be, “Because, I said so” and “As long as you live in my house.”
Also while you’re at it – learn to take a door off its hinges. Not having a door for a few days is a real quick way to cut down on that annoying door slamming.

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