Anyone else remember vowing to never, ever, say “because I said so” when you had your own kids? In our idealism, we might have conceded that there could be exceptions when they are too young to really understand the ‘why’. But certainly by the time they reach their teens, this would surely be the absolute worst. We all agreed. No, never am I, ever going to let that phrase slip from my lips. We were convinced that if we raised them ‘right’ and maintained a ‘healthy’ two-way dialogue, we would be able to keep the lines of ‘communication open’ and reach their ability to understand and grasp our reasons. Even, dare I say, buy into our reasons — or at a minimum comply.
I can see by the goings on in my neighborhood, that the ‘let’s discuss this’ approach is failing. Keeping the lines of ‘communication open’ is not having the impact we had hoped for.
The teens are on the prowl. From sports fields, to driving around together, to just walking in tight packs along the streets, they are out there getting much closer than 6 ft. to each other. Who can blame them — I would too, if I was a teen. This is where my “because I said so” parents would have intervened with a heavy hand.
Running along side this friendly parenting approach, we may have moms and dads, who haven’t yet been totally persuaded themselves that these measures are necessary. Or, perhaps the parents are too distracted trying to figure out new working norms, or fretting over scary economic prospects to worry about heavy handed parenting. Or, maybe they have simply been defeated by relentless pressure to let their kids out.
It must seem almost mean and cruel; like you’re punishing them for something they didn’t do and had no ability to avoid. And, after all, we’re not in New York, or Atlanta, or New Orleans. We’re much more spread out here in Houston, even inside our so-called ‘Loop’ near the city center. There’s much alarm and many nightmarish projections, but none of these seem very real. Rather like watching a documentary on global warming, while we crank up our A/C, with all the lights on in the house, and 4 gas-guzzlers sitting in the driveway, while eating from polystyrene take-out containers. It doesn’t seem real. We’re not moved to action. It’s some potential far-in-the-future thing that may, or may not, happen.
This is tough stuff for parents. Even worse when friend groups don’t unite around a common approach.
Most of us haven’t been called upon to act in the national general interest in our lifetime. Only 2% of today’s living US population has memories of early childhood experiences during the 1930’s Depression and the 1940’s WWII era, and these are now fading rapidly. Only approximately 6% of our US corporate memory could have any real recall of the fear of Polio in the early 1950’s. Again, time and the safety of modern medicine has blanketed us with an amnesia of how bad it could get, and what it would take to protect ourselves.
We need to get brave and bold and consider resurrecting the “Do it, because I told you so” approach that our parents inflicted on us. Maybe our parents grew up in a time when that stick was needed for good reason — and we are now re-learning why.
Don’t forget, it’s ok if our kids get mad at us. It’s ok if they slam doors and trash talk us to their friends. They’ll get over it. We did. We will never be sorry that we made them safer and by doing so made us all that much safer.
It’s a no regrets approach. You’re in charge. Go for it!