“Because I said so…”

You heard it many times growing up.  As a parent, you’ve probably said it – or am I the only one?

“Because I said so…”

This simply isn’t enough.  Daily I forget that my kids don’t have the benefit of context.  They haven’t had a chance to make the many, many, many mistakes I have made.  Granted they make mistakes daily, but how many times did you make the same mistake before you really “got it”?  We tend to do a disservice to kids by assuming that they are mini-adults.  They are fully formed souls, but their innocence is just that – innocence on every level.  Therefore, “because I said so” is just laziness on our part.  We don’t want the hassle of explaining something.  In his commentary on Proverbs 1:7-9 Matthew Henry states:

“They are reasonable creatures (children), and therefore we must not give them law without instruction; we must draw them with the cords of a man, and when we tell them what they must do we must tell them why.”

 We’re working on this with our 7 year old.  Heck, we are still working on this with our 19 year old.  I’m still working on this myself.  For, truth be told, I don’t take something on face value.  I don’t just accept it because someone in authority said so.

I’m going to sound pious here, don’t worry it’s just a farce:

The only true authority is God’s Word.  That’s it.  Everything else is just interpretation at best, or opinion at worst.

We are imperfect creatures.  So, so very imperfect.  Kids get this.  And because they intuitively understand this, they have a right to question our “authority”.

There are times when my children must obey what I say to avoid harming themselves or others or damaging relationships or property.  Times when there may not be time for a complete conversation with appropriate questions and answers.  However, I must maintain that balance.  If I’m going to require that my children obey at my word, I must be ready and able to explain and defend that word.

I MUST make the time to explain.

I have been trying to help my son to understand when questioning is appropriate and when he needs to just listen and then we can talk about it later.  I don’t have any real answers. But, it seems to me that the best part about parenting should be the conversations that lead to understanding and relationship.  These questions from our kids about our edicts and mandates should cause us to evaluate ourselves and our statements in light of their questions.  We must also be willing to listen to their thoughts and be humble to apologize when we’ve been wrong.  I don’t have the seemingly popular “18 Steps…”.

All I can offer is a glimpse into what’s convicting me now in how I parent and questioning the status-quo of my childhood.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.  Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.

Proverbs 1:7-9