Breaking Up with “Because I Said So” – 3 Ways to move from Compliance to Powerful

Danny Silk

“Because I said so!”

It is likely that if you have a parent, have been a parent, or are currently parenting, you have witnessed or used this phrase. When faced with the clash of wills between parent and child, a parent can get to the point of frustration and simply make a demand rather than having a discussion. Most of us would say it would be easier to have kids that comply and listen, the first time, when we ask anything of them. It is tempting to think compliance is the goal, but is that really what we want for our children? Or would you mention traits like: belief, ability to discern right from wrong, boldness, humility, dedication, consistency, and strength, among other leadership traits? Temporarily, it seems easier to have compliant children. Instead,

We need to have the foresight to understand that every challenging situation we encounter is an opportunity to shape our children’s character.

We want our kids to grow up to be powerful, to have the ability to manage their life and choices in honoring and respectful ways. If this is our desire, the environment we create in our home is the training ground for this to happen. We want them to feel the freedom to be individuals, yet still willingly submit to the needs of others and the family atmosphere. As parents, we can set the tone by demonstrating the things we want for them to learn. We do this by creating intentional teaching moments when faced with everyday challenges.

With this goal in mind, here are three ways to develop powerful kids:

1. Give opportunities for them to feel seen and heard

In the midst of daily activities, it is important to create space for your kids to know they have a voice. They may feel a range of emotions, but often it is easy to not take the time to ask about them because it is necessary to get things accomplished. Taking the time to regularly check in to see what is going on in their life and heart will form strong bonds of connection, making the next challenge much easier to face. If something does go wrong, allowing our kids to let us know how they felt, in respectful ways, creates powerful opportunities for them to develop their communication and voice.

If we believe that respectful confrontation creates powerful people, our kids must feel free to experience and initiate this.

2. Give them freedom to choose

Sometimes we think the best way for kids to learn is to tell them what to do. But the truth is our kids need to learn how to have to an opinion, and be given the chance to share that. It is best to give them this chance in the context of the safe environment we create for them. When we demonstrate our willingness to make room for their desires, we are teaching them how to have mutually beneficial and powerful relationships in which two people get to have a voice and freedom to choose. Giving them a chance to pick the family dinner, or what music to listen to in the car, are a couple small examples of valuing your child’s opinions and allowing them to choose. Relationships should never be about one person having dominance and the other not having a voice or freedom. We will also find that when we give our kids options, they will be much more likely to consider the needs of the family or listen and obey instructions when they are asked to do so.

3. Demonstrate healthy authority

As parents, only we know when our kids need more freedom and when they may need to be asked to comply. As we learn this balance, it is important to teach them that authority is a part of life. There has been a lot of misunderstanding of the words authority and submission. It has come to mean that one person is dominant and the other is submissive, instead of submission being first demonstrated by the one in authority.

Submission is not synonymous with demanding dominance over another person.

Jesus is our greatest example of this healthy authority. In Matthew, we read about what healthy authority looks like from Jesus’ perspective.

25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

There are many times we will need to ask our children to listen to our instructions and obey. If we are in the habit of regularly demonstrating healthy authority, our kids should grow in loving obedience as they learn to give and take in healthy relationship. It may not mean they never question authority. In fact, we should welcome their challenge, knowing it is developing in them the skills necessary to become a thriving adult. Teaching them respectful disagreement is key.

As you begin to implement these practices, you will face challenges. It is never easy to balance the needs and desires of many powerful people living in one home. The goal is not to always have agreement, but to take the time to work through disagreement.

When we do this, we are allowing each person involved to contribute to the conversation and relationship in meaningful ways.  In doing so, we will give our kids the best chance at learning the skill of being a powerful person.

 

 

PS) What questions do you have about implementing these practices in your parenting?

PSS) Right now we are running a Christmas special on the Life Academy, 25% off, if you give it as a gift. Know someone that is looking to take that next step of being powerful in their Parenting? This would be a perfect gift for them!

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  1. I needed this today..! Thanks for sharing… I always promised myself I would never say "because I said so" because I hated when my parents said it to me, but with a 5, 3, and 1 year old I have been pushing for compliance and I needed this reminder. Thanks again!

  2. This was so beautifully timed. Just this morning, I was pondering through whether it would be easier to just have kids that were compliant and obey. However, the Lord asked me a question that really caught me offguard. He asked me if he requires compliance from us. And then it occurred to me, that his value strongest for relationship and gives us the freedom to make right or wrong choices. That being said, it really made me really think what my goal as a parent is.

  3. I have a 5 year old son and I am in a season of being a single mother. It gets so unbelievibly hard, especially raising a leader. I am familiar with your teachings and love and logic. I believe in freedom, I believe in choices, I believe in sharing feelings. How do I teach my son respectful disagreement? How do I teach him it’s not all about him (lol)? How do I teach him respect period?
    I tell him it’s ok to get angry but not ok to call mommy stupid, or say I hate you, or throw things at me or in general when you get mad. I ask him what are some other words you can use instead of those? I even set boundaries and say when you are ready to talk to mommy nicely, then I will talk to you. When he starts throwing a physical tantrum, i either immediately pick him up and try to place him in his room. Sometimes I give him a choice of what room. He just says no, so I tell him if he doesn’t pick I will pick for him. He just says no. I tell him when he’s calm then he can come out. We go through all that, than he’s fine. He asks for something I tell him no. And then the tantrum starts all again. The past 3 nights have been like this. It’s so exhausting physically and in my soul. I just end up in tears. I do all these things that I think are right and including praying. It just seems like he has no respect for me, and I don’t know how to teach him that.

    1. Dear Janel, I would strongly recommend Love and Logic teachings which inspired Danny Silk himself in his years of training. You can buy some audio files that will completely change your life in how to deal with your son in a way that will also increase the peace and love in your home exponentially. Bless you in your motherhood

    2. Hi Janel,
      Keep up the good work! 😀
      I know it seems hard and unending, but you can do it.
      I’m a single mom too, my son is age 20 now.
      Keep trusting God, relying on His strength, and seeking His wisdom.
      Praying for you sister!
      This is wonderful material for raising healthy kids.
      Christina

    3. Hi Janel,
      I feel you I feel you. I’m a single mama to four little ones (10, 9, 7 & 4) and the hard and consistent work you put in now will start to pay off soon enough. It’s never easy but it’s all worth it. My 4 yr old is the biggest challenge at the moment with tantrums and selfish behaviour. I always put things in perspective though and think to myself that their childhood will pass by so quickly- I want to be purposeful and intentional in this parenting gig because it’s a priviledge being handed to me by the Lord. Stay encouraged sis. Even though it feels like you’re failing, you’re doing so well!!

  4. Growing up I didn’t have a healthy relationship with my family. I’m desperately trying to have healthy boundaries and communication with my children and husband. I feel like I have hit a wall though. Reading this gives me hope. Thank you

  5. This is a GREAT writing, almost identical to one of my writings through GPN. I would reiterate and confirm the major point of your message and that is Parental job of BUILDING and DEVELOPING the Character of your child. The words we use and the tone of the delivery are important. However, remember the responsibility is to BUILD and not dominate your child. For example, depending on the age of the child you may want to toss their rage or disagreeing behavior back to them by simply asking them how mommy or daddy would handle their stated disagreement. Make every engagement a growth engagement not a discipline exchange.
    Parents are the first teachers from the moment your child is born. Know that there is no more important role on earth than that of a Parent. Our tasks includes building our child’s character toward being a responsible, caring and successful ADULT, not just a child for life. The manner in which we engage is critical to this long-term impact on our children.
    While it oftentimes feels like we are living in the moment, we are preparing them for the marathon of life with our every word; our every movement; our total presence and engagement for life.

    Greg
    Global Parenting Network

  6. How is the life Academy different from Danny’s loving our kids on purpose and loving on purpose teachings. In other words I have listened to those teachings and love them, how would I further benefit from the life Academy teachings?

  7. Absolutely love this. Love the points on healthy authority that empowers instead of dominating. Breathe of fresh air to read. Great practical advice. I grew up with the I told you so and was always frustrated. Good to know I can still healthily direct their hearts while still valuing their voice.

  8. Nailed it! I believe debating is one of the best tools we can give our kids to communicate well and respectfully with people of any age group. People who debate well don’t wear their feelings on their sleeve. Their focus is on being able to communicate the message well and to the point. Excellent debaters know when a discussion has gone down an unhealthy path, and they know when to walk away from a heated debate. They regroup and they try again. Learning how to debate well is one of the best ways to raise powerful leaders. My 2 cents, Mary.

  9. Also, make sure to tell your children to forge a strong relationship with the greatest debater in the world, Jesus Christ. Debating with Him will make you the wisest person in the world.

  10. How do you suggest demonstrating healthy authority? I have to regularly ask my 4yo to do things multiple times. Sometimes she complies, sometimes she responds with an outright no, others she giggles and waits. It gets beyond frustrating, and often bubbles to the "because I said so" stage.

  11. Mr. Silk, I have so many questions. I have been following you and reading/watching your material. I want to believe so bad in what you are teaching! I have heard really good things from people that I respect deeply. I saw your KYLO series and absolutely loved it! I can’t say the same for your parenting classes (and I mean that with deep respect, please note this.) I understand the greater picture of what you are saying, but the details on how to get this done are confusing to me. Giving children so many choices, could this really be a good idea? And i’m talking bout little children. I have a strong-will 4 year old and almost everything is a fight. I try to establish connection (heart to heart) but I struggle with all the choices. I guess the approach just seems so lay back. Isn’t there a balance b/w learning that you are a child and that you have to learn to listen to your elders, that you have to do things whether you like them or not. I really wish I could understand this better…

  12. I do best with examples and i need more examples for number 3. How do I exemplify serving to my 4 and 2 yr old without them becoming lazy? I feel like we’ve worked hard on connection with them, my husband and I serve often, other people, our kids etc. But now I feel like im experiencing a sense of laziness and entitlement from my 4yr old and it’s so hard to not get upset and feel frustrated, hopeless and question whether or not we’re really doing the right thing.

  13. My immediate reaction was: This is great! OK… how do I make it work with a 2yo and 4yo?
    Then I read the comments and multiple people ask basically the same thing! LOL!

    Whenever I’m around other parents of toddlers I realize we’re all going through the same thing. It’s so easy to focus on how difficult our little ones are being and to think we’re all alone in this. But we’re not! We’re all going crazy with our kids! It’s a unique season with unique challenges.

    My 2yo is constantly hitting and/or biting his 4yo brother. Where this anger and violent reaction comes from obviously isn’t learned given our home’s environment. So where is it from? How do we get him to handle his anger differently. We’re also trying to teach our 4yo to handle disputes with him in healthy ways before it reaches that point. But sometimes I think it escalates so fast he doesn’t even have the opportunity to try.

    1. Hi, try looking at your child’s diet. Artificial colours and preservatives, have a huge impact on behaviour in kids. Taking those things out of my children’s diet made a huge difference. Look up the fail safe diet on line.

  14. Hi Danny, I have no kids of my own but I’m a high school teacher, interested in creating a sense of empowerment amongst my students. I generally feel that I do quite a good job of building relationships with students and meeting their specific learning needs. Sometimes, however, I feel the need to very clearly highlight my authority in the room. I also don’t have the time to touch base with 30-50 students in the same way as a parent might be able to connect with their own. Whilst the classes at my school are typically very compliant, I do know that students have reported they often feel their voices are not listened to. Do you have ideas about how this principle might work in a high school classroom?

  15. Blessings Danny-
    Where do I go for resources for my young adult children in working with them through the divorce of their mother? Thst was 4yrs ago. I’m so bkessed to now be remarried although one daughter is still very angry and upset.
    Bless you

  16. Thanks Danny for this great post. I am a grandmother who has the full time care of 3 Grandchildren, 2 of the children have come to me with many behavioural problems, ODD, ADDHD, FASD, to name a few, life with the youngest (8) who has all these is extremely challenging and leaves me most days feeling defeated and exhausted, as he gets older the problems seem to worsten. My question here is how do i implement these things with a child who is driven by control and has no regard or healthy fears of Authority. Every day is a battlefield with him whether at school or home, He is always attracted to children who he will always be in trouble with at school, yet can tell you exactly why he shouldn’t play with them and what good choices he needs to make. Any help or advise would be so greatly appreciated.
    regards Michelle

  17. Hi Danny

    Thank you, this is great and a different perspective on giving your children more of a empowerment. Raised in a home where the parent is right and controlling, to obey from that kind of mentalityraising.

    How can you help your child in these areas, where your child makes choices from him being impulsive, a sensory disorder?

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