Just Do It Because I Said So!
RTM was graced with the honor to do guest post for the tremendous site, DiscoveringDad.net. Jeremy, author and publisher, shares his knowledge of fatherhood with great wit, charisma, and an incredibly effective writing style.
I used to hear this all the time from my parents. As a new parent, I am certain I will be saying this at some point to my kids too.
As parents, we always want what’s best for our children. One of those things is to protect them at all costs. We will make imperative statements (more yet, requirements) to them on a routine basis and not necessarily explain why we are making them.
We don’t do this to impose our will or to show we are smarter, bigger or more experienced than they are, but simply because we want to protect our children. This is not only noble, but necessary in today’s uncertain society.
Where things tend to go awry, however, is in the later teen years. When our well placed warnings and cautions may have been ingrained so deep into their psyche, it becomes extremely hard to unlearn them.
Put simply, we expect our kids to be well adjusted socially when it is time. We expect our kids to have lots of friends – to be able to meet and connect with new people. We want them to be well versed and be able to hold their own in social settings. Of course, we always want safety, but we also want them to explore – quite a contradiction when you think about it.
This is why one of the best gifts we can give our children at a very young age is a detailed reason why you are requesting something of them. “Just do it because I said so” might have long term affects we are trying to avoid. Not to mention it is unfair to the children to demand something of them without them knowing why. In order for them to learn, they need the reference points.
Giving your kids a detailed explanation when requesting something of them can make their adjustment from dependent mode to independent mode much easier. The explanation should help them understand there will be a time and place when this behavior will help them tremendously, but for now, they should listen to you.
Understand the Roadblocks
One of my favorite books of all time is Susan RoAne’s personal improvement and networking classic “How To Work A Room“. It puts razor focus on the act of, you guessed it, how to work a room and network in a situation where you don’t know anybody.
She calls early parental warnings “survival techniques” that worked a whole lot better when we were six than when we were twenty-six. As we get older, we oftentimes forget to turn these lessons off. She says those safety warnings actually act as “roadblocks” to getting what we want later in life.
According to RoAne, the five major roadblocks we learned from our parents early on that may hinder our ability later in life are:
1. Don’t talk to strangers.
2. Wait to be properly introduced.
3. Good things come to those who wait.
4. Better safe than sorry.
5. He/she only wants one thing.
and, I would add a sixth:
6. Don’t do/touch that. You don’t want to get hurt do you?
I added this last one as it was commonplace in my household. I often credit this roadblock to making certain I will always have difficulty making my own decisions.
Techniques for overcoming roadblocks and turning your children into emotional giants has to be left for another post; however, one thing you can start doing to help your kids later in life is explaining why you want them to do certain things your way for now. They’ll have many choices of their own down the road, and as parents, we need to focus on equipping them to make good decisions, rather than only preventing them from making bad ones.
Explaining the reasons why doesn’t mean your kids won’t make mistakes, but it will probably work better at setting them up for success than if you only rely on the “Just do it because I said so” school of parenting.
Do you explain the reasons why you make rules, discipline or protect your child? If not, how’s that working for you? If so, have you seen changes in behavior and decision making abilities as they’ve grown? Please share your thoughts.