Do you ever say this to your children?
Most of us grew up being told ‘Because I said so!’ either in words, or in the tone and meaning behind the command. I knew my parents – especially my Dad – were in charge. Yes, I had arguments with him in my teens, where I tried to explain my point of view but in the end, what he said was adhered to most of the time by my brothers and I.
Over the last year or so, I’ve resorted to telling my children (sometimes in a loud voice, otherwise known as shouting) explicitly that ‘I’m in charge.’ I tell them that they can talk about decisions and rules they don’t like with me at another appropriate time, but when I tell them to do something, they have to do it – because I’m in charge. It’s my job to look after them, and I know best, so do as I say. Now!
A few short years ago, I would have been shocked that I would ever use this approach. I was all for explaining the situation, discussing their fears, opinions and emotions, taking their imput into family rules and decisions. I still am. But at the right time. I’ve come to realise that at some moments (sibling arguments, doing chores, stressful, busy or dangerous situations, for example) talking and explaining are not appropriate. Clear instructions and discipline is.
I don’t enjoy it. It feels wrong. It upsets them, and it upsets me. It makes me feel like a heartless dictator. But just because something is hard and uncomfortable, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. So often the doing the ‘right’ thing is also the harder option. Kids need boundaries and strong parents, and I believe within a loving, supportive and emotionally intelligent family, blind obedience is appropriate at some times. (Well I believe it mostly – part of me still questions that if I was a better parent would I need to do this?)
So anyway, I’m writing about this because I used this phrase this morning. I’m tired and jetlagged and I probably went from zero to 60 too quickly, and I probably shouted to loudly and rudely, so there is a sour taste in my mouth. I don’t feel good about it. I need to remember to be calmer next time. But overall, I think it is something that my kids need to understand, and be reminded of occassionally.
What do you think? Please comment below.