I’ve been spending a lot of time hanging out with my two-year-old granddaughter. One day she got my book out and threw it on the floor. I asked her to put it away before we left the room.
She said, “No.”
I said, “You don’t say no to me. You say yes ma’am. Now put the book away.”
She said, “Yes ma’am. No.”
Kids crack me up. And none more than those in my own family. This Flashback Friday column was first published in the Chester County Independent June 25, 1998. It ends with a perfect example of how my son Geoff has always challenged me.
Because I Said So and Other Ridiculous Phrases
I’ve never been particularly fond of the phrases, “because I said so” or “because I’m your mother and that’s all you need to know about it.” Rather than instilling a desire to do as the parent says, these words breed anger and frustration. And as I was always quick to remind my parents, God tells fathers “Provoke not your children to wrath…” (Ephesians 6:4a). Okay, probably not a good idea to throw scripture in your father’s face, but hey, I was only in junior high.
I’m the type of person who likes to know why. When someone tells me to do something that seems stupid or unreasonable, I grumble and complain, or just refuse to do it – depending on who gave the order. If the reason behind the request is obvious or explained to me, I willingly proceed. I seem to come by this trait honestly.
When my dad was a young teenager, he spent some time on his uncle’s wheat farm and helped drive truck during harvest. Uncle Amos told him not to touch a certain lever. Rather than explain the consequences, Uncle Amos pulled out Phrase Number One – “Because I said so.” Dad backed that loaded truck into the shed and pulled the lever. As the bed began to rise, pouring wheat all over the ground, Dad’s arm was caught and his wrist was broken. Dad always ends that story with, “If ol’ Amos had just told me what that lever was for, I never would have had to figure it out for myself.”
As a result, my dad was always very good about explaining the rules to my sisters and me. If I couldn’t go to a party, it was a lot easier to tell my friends why I couldn’t attend than to just say my tyrannical father wouldn’t let me.
Throughout my Bible are DC notations. For each direct command (DC) that God gives, He gives a reason. For example, in Ephesians 6:11, He says, “Put on the whole armour of God, that he may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” The direct command is to suit up in God’s armour. The reason is to protect yourself from Satan. Not too different from my command to my daughter to get out of the middle of the road to protect herself from speeding cars.
Although my children are small, I try to give simple explanations to them. But last week I caught myself using a new version of Phrase Number Two. I looked my 3-year-old son Geoff in the eye and said, “I’m your mommy and you have to do as I say because God said so. He says, “‘Children, obey your parents.'”
He looked right back at me and said, “And you have to obey God.”