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#1 of 28 Old 09-25-2012, 05:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've started to say this sometimes to my 2.5 year old.  She likes to badger me with a cascade of whys whenever I tell her something that needs to happen/not happen.  Sometimes I say, "It's a rule in our house," and that satisfies her pretty well.  It's those times when the reason is too hard to explain....that's when I have trouble.  So, what do you all say when your child is making a long discussion over something you ask of them?

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#2 of 28 Old 09-25-2012, 05:19 PM
 
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If I can tell DS is just asking questions to put off doing what has been asked, then I just tell him that he knows what I have asked him to do. I don't engage him after that.


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#3 of 28 Old 09-25-2012, 07:13 PM
 
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I try to answer all the why's but sometimes when I can't deal with it, I tell him I'll be happy to talk about it more at another time but right now I just need him to do XYZ. I also find when it gets to this point that I need to physically help him with whatever I'm asking him to do/not to do.

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#4 of 28 Old 09-26-2012, 12:11 PM
 
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Depending on the reason for the 'why' - you could say "that's a great question and I'd love to talk about it and hear what you think about it too, so why not think about it and we will get together later and tell eachother what we come up with".

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#5 of 28 Old 09-28-2012, 09:00 AM
 
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You could go with "That's just how it is."  That takes you out of the equation and maybe heads off a power struggle.


-Marisa, ecstatic mommy to amazing DD Sidonie, 2/07 :
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#6 of 28 Old 09-28-2012, 10:50 AM
 
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I agree -- if its just asking for the purpose of delaying then I just say "Please go do XYZ now" and disengage.  But I also have a general philosophy that, if I can't explain why I am asking for something in an age-appropriate sentence, maybe I should re-think the request.  Sometimes I find that pulling up short and examining what I'm actually asking reveals that I am engaged in what I call "reflexive parenting"  -- doing something without any real thought, mostly because that's why MY mother did.  As a general rule I try to question everything that falls into that category in my quest to do things differently.
 

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#7 of 28 Old 09-28-2012, 03:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, I don't think she's deliberately delaying.  She lives to converse, and a why-why-why conversation is par for the course about anything around here.  But she doesn't quiet seem to get the "Mom is in charge" concept.  She does seem to believe that some of these things are matters of conversation, whereas I do not plan to change my mind.  The problems are usually with things like, she wants to play in the sink, but it's full of dirty dishes.  She wants to know why I can't just wash them all right then so she can play in the sink.  All of the responses to this are things her little toddler mind can't grasp - not enough time, it's not what I planned to do right then, if we do that, then we can't do x other thing later, etc.  The other problem area is with matters of probability - "you could fall" gets the response, "Oh, I'll be careful Mommy.  I won't fall."  I think I'm searching for a way to help her grasp the concept that sometimes, just because I'm mommy, she has to do what I say.  I don't want to be a tyrant about it, and she gets a lot of say in our house, but she does need to recognize that I'm the one in charge. 

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#8 of 28 Old 09-29-2012, 08:30 AM
 
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Originally Posted by newmamalizzy View Post

Well, I don't think she's deliberately delaying.  She lives to converse, and a why-why-why conversation is par for the course about anything around here.  But she doesn't quiet seem to get the "Mom is in charge" concept.  She does seem to believe that some of these things are matters of conversation, whereas I do not plan to change my mind.  The problems are usually with things like, she wants to play in the sink, but it's full of dirty dishes.  She wants to know why I can't just wash them all right then so she can play in the sink.  All of the responses to this are things her little toddler mind can't grasp - not enough time, it's not what I planned to do right then, if we do that, then we can't do x other thing later, etc.  The other problem area is with matters of probability - "you could fall" gets the response, "Oh, I'll be careful Mommy.  I won't fall."  I think I'm searching for a way to help her grasp the concept that sometimes, just because I'm mommy, she has to do what I say.  I don't want to be a tyrant about it, and she gets a lot of say in our house, but she does need to recognize that I'm the one in charge. 

 

I really, really feel your pain here.  I have two of this kind of kid, 6 and 8.  It has gotten a little bit better, but it still makes me want to pull my hair out a lot. *EVERYTHING* is up for negotiation, and their "negotiations" are very creative, and oftentimes just not possible logistically.  The playful parenting thing of "oh yes, I'd love to X" (and filling in an outlandish thing) mostly pisses them off because it's patronizing to them.  

 

It's very, very draining sometimes.  And I swore I'd not use that phrase, but....I do.  It's usually about things we've discussed dozens of times already and they're still asking or trying to offer an unreasonable alternative.  

 

I'm sure this does not make you feel any better, but at least you know you're not alone.  LOL!


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#9 of 28 Old 09-29-2012, 08:35 AM
 
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I can't tell you how many times I've heard the "Oh, I'll be careful, that won't happen" and....it happens.  And someone is hurt, or something is broken or damaged beyond repair.  If I had a nickel, I'd be a millionaire.  With as bright as they are you'd *think* by this point they'd realize that I'm not just blowing smoke when I tell them I think something is a bad idea and why, that I actually have life experience and knowledge that informs me on situations....they do not seem to learn lessons the easy way, or even after the hard way the first few times. I guess we've never had a truly traumatic injury, thankfully so I can at least count that blessing.  And stuff is, I suppose, just stuff.  

 

It's still very emotionally draining.  


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#10 of 28 Old 09-30-2012, 08:27 AM
 
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Love the endless negotiations. I say "dd, it's not going to happen" and disengage. Maybe it helps that by now dd knows that means it is actually not going to happen? Sometimes I get tears at that point, but negotiations are over.

-Marisa, ecstatic mommy to amazing DD Sidonie, 2/07 :
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#11 of 28 Old 10-09-2012, 11:22 PM
 
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I don't think I realized that my mom was always right until I was an adult.  I should have just listened to my mom all along.  Maybe someday your daughter will see that, too. :)


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#12 of 28 Old 10-10-2012, 05:37 AM
 
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I try to remember to turn it around and ask, "Why do you think?" But I admit to saying this as well. I hear my mom's voice coming out of my mouth.
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#13 of 28 Old 10-10-2012, 11:50 AM
 
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I try to remember to turn it around and ask, "Why do you think?" 

 I do this too sometimes, but I have to watch and be very conscious of my tone (channel robot Zen mommy) because it gets very sarcastic/snarky coming out of my mouth, very easily.  

 

 

 

WHYYYYYYYY do you THINK I don't want you standing on the office chair and spinning in circles?  Could it be....oh, I don't know, because the last time you ignored me and did it you broke the monitor and got hurt?  YEP, that's PROBABLY why.  


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#14 of 28 Old 10-10-2012, 11:56 AM
 
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A couple tips that I have learned from my own kiddos and working with other kiddos...they never know the answer to "WHY?"  "why" is an abstract concept and kids won't start being able to answer this question until they are in middle school and sometimes not even high school.  So, I try not to put their why questions back on them.  I try to reframe it using who, what, when, or where.  For example, "Mommy, why do we have to...."  I say, "Tell me what we do when we have to...." Or, giving them an explanation like "this is how our family runs" "this is what our team does to make things go smoother."  "All those whys means your brain is working really well."  I have also used the popsicle stick strategy...your kiddo gets 5 popsicle sticks for a certain period of time...say 5 before lunch.  Then, they have to think about when they use their popsicle stick for a why question.  Every time they ask a why, they give you a stick.  When, they run out of sticks, they can't ask any why questions until the next time. 


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#15 of 28 Old 10-10-2012, 12:06 PM
 
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I was the laughingstock or our playgroup when I told a toddler something was a "safety issue."  Yep.  Used those words on a 16-month-old.  The thing is, I used it with mine as a shorthand, and we were used to it, so it did work.  I am such a dweeb.

 

My two are 23 and 19 now, both wonderful men, and the downside of raising them to question everything is that they started with DH and me.  smile.gif
 


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#16 of 28 Old 10-10-2012, 04:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, I would need a LOT of sticks.  But, yes, the why's are like a discipline issue in and of themselves.   Things like "Why is that a potato?" drive me bonkers.  BONKERS!  So I like the idea of turning the question around in a more concrete form.  I'll definitely give that a try.
 

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#17 of 28 Old 10-10-2012, 04:30 PM
 
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A couple tips that I have learned from my own kiddos and working with other kiddos...they never know the answer to "WHY?"  "why" is an abstract concept and kids won't start being able to answer this question until they are in middle school and sometimes not even high school.  So, I try not to put their why questions back on them.  I try to reframe it using who, what, when, or where.  For example, "Mommy, why do we have to...."  I say, "Tell me what we do when we have to...." Or, giving them an explanation like "this is how our family runs" "this is what our team does to make things go smoother."  "All those whys means your brain is working really well."  I have also used the popsicle stick strategy...your kiddo gets 5 popsicle sticks for a certain period of time...say 5 before lunch.  Then, they have to think about when they use their popsicle stick for a why question.  Every time they ask a why, they give you a stick.  When, they run out of sticks, they can't ask any why questions until the next time. 

 

Really?  I find my six year old pretty much always knows why, especially if it's related to not being able to do something or having to do it.  She doesn't LIKE it, but she knows.  Why is the sky blue, why is that a potato (ha!), why  did they invent baths - well she might not know for sure but she has (often entertaining, sometimes really complex) ideas and certainly asking why helps her to use some logic and think. 

 

I ask, "why do you think" with pretty much all the kids I deal with and I've yet to stump one. 

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#18 of 28 Old 10-10-2012, 05:22 PM
 
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My two are 23 and 19 now, both wonderful men, and the downside of raising them to question everything is that they started with DH and me.  smile.gif
 

 

I have to almost constantly remind myself of this, lest I start to wish I had obedient robot children.


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#19 of 28 Old 10-11-2012, 04:33 AM
 
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Really?  I find my six year old pretty much always knows why, especially if it's related to not being able to do something or having to do it.  She doesn't LIKE it, but she knows.  Why is the sky blue, why is that a potato (ha!), why  did they invent baths - well she might not know for sure but she has (often entertaining, sometimes really complex) ideas and certainly asking why helps her to use some logic and think. 

I ask, "why do you think" with pretty much all the kids I deal with and I've yet to stump one. 

My 10-year-old understands "why" and has for a long time. I don't even remember how long, but certainly years. My 3-year-old does not and will answer with where or when or what or something instead.
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#20 of 28 Old 11-04-2012, 04:51 AM
 
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Well, I don't think she's deliberately delaying.  She lives to converse, and a why-why-why conversation is par for the course about anything around here.  But she doesn't quiet seem to get the "Mom is in charge" concept.  She does seem to believe that some of these things are matters of conversation, whereas I do not plan to change my mind.  The problems are usually with things like, she wants to play in the sink, but it's full of dirty dishes.  She wants to know why I can't just wash them all right then so she can play in the sink.  All of the responses to this are things her little toddler mind can't grasp - not enough time, it's not what I planned to do right then, if we do that, then we can't do x other thing later, etc.  The other problem area is with matters of probability - "you could fall" gets the response, "Oh, I'll be careful Mommy.  I won't fall."  I think I'm searching for a way to help her grasp the concept that sometimes, just because I'm mommy, she has to do what I say.  I don't want to be a tyrant about it, and she gets a lot of say in our house, but she does need to recognize that I'm the one in charge. 

 

With the sort of situation you describe (the sink, or times when my objection is about what "could" happen and not wanting to go there), I do tend to respond along the lines of "Because I said so" but I don't use those words.

 

But I am clear about the fact that I am making a decision: it is about whether or not I am willing to do something, and I'm not.  Basically, that is the language I use: "I'm not willing to....," or "I'm insisting on this."

 

To me, this is communication that is clear and honest, and it also gives the child something with which to "come into contact."

 

I think trying to establish the "rightness" or "validity" of a parental decision by explaining the "right" reasons for it (answering the WHY? questions with reasons that we hope will be convincing and will satisfy the questioning) is frustrating to a child for legitimate reasons.  Sometimes, we (as parents) are making decisions based on our preferences or personal limits.  It's not really about the decision being "right" or its alternatives somehow wrong, unsafe or unreasonable---it's a matter of a choice we've made!

 

We may actually HAVE "enough" money for X purchase, but we're not willing.  It may actually be POSSIBLE to wash all the dishes (or relocate them, or whatever) so that a young child can safely play in the sink, but we're not willing to do so.

 

It's not about whether or not our reasons are valid, but simply that in these situations, the decision is a matter of us exercising our parental power.
 

I think it is helpful to children when we communicate in ways that acknowledge this.  I have observed that it's quite helpful to my own children.  When I speak in this way my children aren't put in a position of having to accept that what they want is somehow wrong, unreasonable or unwise (and that's why it can't happen.)  They simply learn that they've encountered a personal limit.  There's a lot more "room" in this for their own preferences and feelings.  We aren't focused on the validity of the wish, with me trying to explain why it can't & even shouldn't happen.  I don't have to validate my positions by suggesting that they are "right."

 

Thinking and speaking this way helps keep me in contact with my choice in life (I don't feel like I "have" to do or decide this or that.)  This means I'm less likely to get frustrated when my child is unhappy about something.  When I feel like I "had" to do this or I "couldn't" allow it, I tend to feel frustrated when my child isn't accepting of my reasons, and I am more likely to get irritated with protests or expressions of unhappiness.  When I'm in touch with the reality that I chose the limit and said No to an option out of needs of my own or other pressing concerns or competing duties, then I am validating that choice and don't feel as defensive about it (and resistant of the child's feelings in response.)

 

"I'm not willing to...." or "I'm insisting on this" are two examples of a kind of "I message" that has made my life MEASURABLY better simply by reducing my tension & frustration, and has really improved cooperation in the household.  I think that's because when I openly own the fact that I am exerting my power in these situations, my kids don't feel as pushed, like I'm "convincing" them of the rightness of decisions.  They can much more easily respect & accept personal decisions based on what I feel like I can handle/do, and what I'm willing (or not willing) to consider.  I'm calling it like it is (because these situations ARE a matter of exercising power!)

 

It also keeps me in touch with my ACTUAL feelings and limits, so I'm not on auto-pilot.  I find what I really am or am not willing to do or allow, when I think and speak in this way (rather than presenting the decision as if it's based in what's right.)

 

It's also about owning what I think or believe.  Of course, what I think about situations is rooted in good sense and sometimes very valid and sound reasoning, but the validity does not so much lie in the decision/opinion being sound as it lies in my personal responsibility to assess situations and make decisions I can live with.  (The fact that I believe/think that something is dangerous, and am not willing to permit it, is a lot easier for my child to accept than is the suggestion that what they want "IS" dangerous or that what I fear "WILL" happen.)

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#21 of 28 Old 11-04-2012, 04:57 AM
 
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One other thought I had was that the statements I'm describing in place of "because I said so!" are basically communicating with compassion, in a caring way.

 

It's not frustration or annoyance speaking, and it's not like barking something that (hopefully) will shut up the objections.  That's a very defensive, antagonistic shut-down.  (I think most of us dislike the idea of "Because I said so" for those reasons....we don't want to suggest that how children feel and what they think doesn't matter.)

 

But trying to root our decisions in "what is right" engages us in a subtle struggle that invalidates the "other" side.  (Or their expressing upset challenges OUR validity, which is why it is draining and irritating to us.)

 

Conflict is okay.  Disagreement is okay.  Wanting a different outcome or answer is okay.  When we own that we are exercising our parental power and making a decision in a situation, we leave room for dissent (we aren't trying to "answer" everything so that conflict & disagreement go away.)  This was the aspect of speaking personally and owning my choice that changed things so much for me.

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#22 of 28 Old 11-04-2012, 04:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you, AmyC.  You really nailed the source of the conflict I feel when I have the urge to say "Because I said so" - like it dismisses her, like I'm acting dictatorial, etc.  The problem has by no means gone away, so I will definitely try your approach.  I can definitely see her continuing to "why" in response, but....that's just her. 

 

I've actually found that she seems to respond to verbal training, like I do when I want her to stop whining.  I use the "provide the words and tone you want her to use" method, and it works very well.  So sometimes when I say something and she asks why, I'll say "Oh, is that so?"  Or some more appropriate type of conversational language.  She seems to accept that, so I'm wondering if the part of the "why" battle is really just her not really knowing the appropriate way to respond yet?

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#23 of 28 Old 11-07-2012, 08:48 AM
 
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AmyC, that was so helpful to me!  Owning your personal limits and the difference between doing that and coming up with a Reason is something I will definitely think on.  I like the "I'm not willing to" phrasing.  I know I've used "I'm not going to do that" or "That's not happening" myself.  And I also agree that the goal is to say those things in a compassionate way. 

 

I just really loved your first post in this thread and I think I will print it out and read it over and over.

I haven't gotten to the Why stage yet but I am dealing with a lot of conflicting thoughts and actions on parental power and when to let things go vs when to set a limit.

 

 

Newmamalizzy, I think that you might be right about Why just being a placeholder for making conversation.

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#24 of 28 Old 12-23-2012, 04:08 AM
 
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My response to my son's "Why" questions was to give him more info than he needed.  Why is the sky blue?  The sky is not actually blue, it's all colors but  blue due to the blah blah blah.  I "would go into incredible detail.  His response?  "Oh"  And that was it. No more whys.  And he's incredibly smart...

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#25 of 28 Old 12-25-2012, 08:27 AM
 
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If my son has a question that I can use the response, because that's how God made it/them, etc. that's usually what I'll use. I try and give him reasons for everything else but occasionally ill pull the "because I said so." Sometimes it's just really draining and tiring to have to come up with an answer to everything . My parents did the whole "because I said so," and while it was frustrating at the time, I get it now! I don't think it's bad to say every now bed then. Sometimes parents do know best and kids just need to accept that. The older they get the easier I think.

DH(9/04) DS(12/08) and DD(5/11)

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#26 of 28 Old 12-25-2012, 10:31 AM
 
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Recently I felt quite growly about the dishes in the sink as well, and we're pretty consensual living around here. I'm regularly fighting my own childhood experiences with a dictator, but here's what happened:

 

DD: I'm going to give my baby a bath. (pulling up a chair to the sink)

Me: That would not be a good idea just now.

DD: Why not? (whinnnnneeeeee)

Me: There are so many dishes in there that your baby would get all gross if you put her with them.

DD: But I wannnnnt toooooo giveeee my babbbbbyyyyyyy a bath!

 

My knee-jerk, but this only happened in my head: "well, you little whiner! You have been asking me for food all freaking night long, and then barely eating what I put together for you, only to whine about more I'm hungries minutes later and I'm frankly exhausted and don't want one more effing dish to manage. I'm not washing one damned thing until your butt is asleep and out of my way!! You just wait! I'll turn this place into a battleship and you'll get only one dinner and then you can SUFFER because I'm the freaking boss around here, not you!! You can hop to it and wash the stupid things!"

 

But I recovered.

Me: why not use the bathroom sink just this once, and I'll bet you will find yourself feeling hungry again, so why not think about what precisely you will want for one last snack before I wash up all the dishes from the other foods today? Looking at all those dishes from today makes me feel oh so tired! 

And then the miracle happened..."mom? Can I wash some of the dishes when I get done with the bath?"

 

I guess my point is--every single time I've felt like saying "I'm the boss!! Because I said so!!" it's something else nagging at me and I benefit from a moment of introspection.

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#27 of 28 Old 12-25-2012, 11:46 AM
 
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I sometimes say something similar when I can't think of a good reason but also know that I absolutely don't want something to happen and I don't have patience for debate. I know myself and dd well enough to know that "that's not an option right now...because its not...you can do x, x, or x" is better for our relationship than ignoring my feelings then bursting with annoyance. I also sometimes use something I read in an Alfie Kohn book and don't engage when the answer won't change once I have given an actual reason why I don't want something to happen.

I do think that most of the time questions should be answered even if the answer is that you are too tired to prepare the way for an activity or you don't feel like doing something. Even kids get tired and don't feel like doing things and it sounds more genuine than just a flat because I said so.
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#28 of 28 Old 01-10-2013, 07:01 PM
 
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I try very hard to not say such a thing; so much so that my daughter will call me on it if I do. In lieu of 'because I said so', i lean towards, 'because I asked you (not) to'. 

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