If you've answered your child's plea for an explanation with the words "Because I said so," you're not alone. If you've found the phrase annoying and frustrating when your parents say it, you are in the majority. So, if parents didn't like it when they were kids, how come they use it on their kids? There are a number of reasons, most good.
1. Urgency: Sometimes there simply isn't time for an explanation. For example, let's say a person is about to step off a curb and doesn't see an oncoming car. You yell to stop, but they ask why and continue because they see no reason to stop. It is important that we learn to obey an urgent command immediately, for the sake of safety, if nothing else.
2. Age, Experience or Maturity: Sometimes people are incapable of completely understanding an explanation. For instance, a 3-year old would understand that a car might run over him, but probably wouldn't understand the significance of back-up lights. A 12-year-old might not recognize the indications of a dangerous neighborhood.
3. Bad timing: Sometimes there is time for an explanation, but it isn't the right place or time. Some explanations require privacy. It would be inappropriate to go into a detailed explanation in front of a bunch of friends if you can't go to the movies with them because you are being punished for leaving your dirty underwear in the bathroom again.
4. Uncomfortable: Sometimes the phrase is simply easier or allows parents to put off an uncomfortable conversation. Let's face it, parents are people too, and no one ever said parenting was easy. Parents grow weary of having their judgment continually questioned. Asking if you are going to have visitors when you're told to clean your room implies that is the only time your parents clean the house.
5. Ignorance: Parents sometimes use the phrase when it would serve everyone best to offer an explanation. Children grow up faster than parents are ready to let them go. The time between when a child doesn't understand a concept and when they fully comprehend can be incredibly short.
6. Impatience: Last but not least, sometimes it is simply easier to say "because I said so," than it is to sit down and explain. Parenting is exhausting and sometimes parents take short cuts. Sometimes children ask for explanations when they know why. Maybe they want to procrastinate or maybe they are simply hoping for a different answer.
It is important to learn to obey without expecting explanations. While we generally learn that in childhood, it certainly isn't restricted to children. If we continually questioned every order our boss gave us, we wouldn't be employed long. The backbone of the military is obedience without explanation. Learning to do as we are told without verbally questioning everything is simply part of growing up. That doesn't mean we should not question things. It simply means there is a time and a place for questions. If the time or place is wrong for our questions, we're likely to get the equivalent of the response "because I told you so," regardless of whether we are parents or children.