The “Because I Said So” Challenge
Author: Clay Nichols


It’s the force majeure of the parenting vocabulary: a statement that asserts complete authority and brings the gavel down on further debate.

“Because I said so.”

But have you ever considered your relationship to “because I said so?” Is it a trusty club in your golf bag that you know you can always hit straight? Or is it an ugly driver’s license photo, something embarrassing that you are forced to produce regularly in public? Is it a tactic that would be upheld by the Supreme Court, or endorsed by the CIA?

Does “because I said so” plant your standard proudly snapping in the breeze atop the high ground, or does it send up a ragged white flag of defeat? Could you go a whole year without “because I said so?” A whole childhood? Should you?

I am contemplating the place “because I said so” has in my life because I have a tween who loves soccer. And a sister is who is getting married.

“She’s already married,” my soccer player correctly points out.
• “True, but that was a small private ceremony, and this party is for all the friends.”
“But Aunty lives in California. Why is the party in Dallas?”
• “It’s for Grandma and Grandpa’s friends, too.”
“They live in Marble Falls.”
• I can feel “because I said so” welling up inside me.
“Can I sleep over at a teammate’s house? They invited me.”
• “No.”

The moment of truth. A teachable moment, no less. One in which we could talk about the meaning of family – the joys and also the obligations that come with it. The place of sacrifice. And why even The Big Tournament is sometimes less important that a cocktail buffet 200 miles away, populated by people you’ve never met.

Or I could just go with Old Faithful and save myself a lot of verbiage.
After about an hour at the reception, it becomes clear to my soccer player that there will be no DJ, jugglers, foam pit or fog machines. Genuine puzzlement ensues.

“Is this really what adults do for fun?”
• “Yes.”
“Huh. Well, can I at least have another piece of cake?”
• “No.”
“Why not?”
• “Because I said so.”

Clay Nichols is one of the founders of and co-author of
“DadLabs Guide to Fatherhood: Pregnancy and Year One.” He lives in Austin with his wife Kim and three children.

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