Have you ever said the words "Because I said so!" to your children? Say, you’re in the checkout line at the grocery store, and little Sally is begging for a candy bar. "But Mooooommm!!! Why can’t I have some candy???" Or maybe Johnny is asking to go to a friend’s house for the afternoon. You say no, and he responds with, "But WHYYY???" You’re frustrated and tired of saying no (it’s okay, we’ve all been there!), and you say, "BECAUSE I SAID SO!"
I want to talk to you about that phrase today. There are actually two different concepts I want to share with you – protection and control. I’m going to share the insights that have helped me raise responsible, honorable, and well-rounded children. But only you can choose which one you believe will be more beneficial to your children’s future.
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When my daughter, Arika, was 11 years old, she asked me if she could go on a camping trip with one of her friends. I didn’t see a problem with it, so I told her to go ahead and get packed. We were getting ready to leave, and Hans asked where we were going. I told him Arika was going on a camping trip with her friend. He said, "Oh no she’s not!"
We asked Arika to go upstairs so her dad and I could talk privately. Hans said to me, "Dani, I don’t know what their standards are of protecting their daughter. How do I know they’re not going to let the girls go on a bike ride up in the mountains by themselves? How do I know her parents are going to protect them the way we protect – for their good, and not just to control?"
WOW! His leadership astounds me. When Arika came downstairs, Hans sat down with her and explained his decision. He said, "Arika, God has appointed me to protect, guard, and govern you in love. My job is to make sure I keep you safe and to teach you how to keep yourself safe. I have to ultimately answer to God as to whether I’ve done a good job or not, and I don’t know whether or not your friend’s dad keeps the same standards we do. I’m sure he does, but I can’t take that chance because my job is to make sure to keep you safe."
Can you guess what Arika’s response to this was? She had tears streaming down her face, and she responded, "Thank you, Daddy, for protecting me."
SERIOUSLY?!? What 11-year-old do you know that responds this way when they are told that they can’t go on a camping trip with a friend? She did not rebel or argue or complain. She unpacked her camping gear without fighting Hans’ decision, because she knew it was because we loved her and we had her best interest in mind.
Now, imagine if we had handled it differently. Hans could have said, "You’re not going and that’s final!" Then Arika would have said, "But why not? It’s not fair!!!" And then would come the famous line – "Because I said so!"
Can you see the difference in communication here? In the first scenario, Hans explained why he made the decision to have Arika stay home instead of go on the camping trip. It was clear that his purpose was to protect her and to set her up for success, not just for that day or weekend, but for the rest of her life.
In the second (hypothetical) scenario, however, Hans showed himself to be a total control freak and dictator. This would have provoked rebellion in Arika. But thank God Hans had the wisdom to handle the situation the way he did!
Control is the opposite of protection. Instead of setting children up for success, control sets them up for failure. It causes them to rebel against everything you say.
It has been really amazing to watch how Arika has responded in situations like these over the years. She has had an amazing attitude because she knows, based on past experiences, that our heart is for her to succeed. Our hearts are set to see her protected and for her to be wise. And today she is married to an amazing man and is pregnant with her first child, and I know she and her husabnd will raise their children in protection, not control.
So now it’s up to you. Which will you choose – protection or control? Will you be a dictator who sets up all kinds of stupid rules that serve no purpose, just for the sake of having rules? Or will you set rules and guidelines that are designed to protect your children and lead them into success? You’ve read what I have to say about it, and what has worked for my family. But only you can make the decision for your family.
If you are ready to cross over from control to protection, I would highly recommend you have a conversation with your children and explain the difference in protection vs. control. Explain why you are making changes, and make sure they understand that your desire is to see them succeed in life. Ask them to forgive you for falling short in this area in the past. And from here on out, before you make decisions or respond to their questions and requests, ask yourself, "Is this for their protection or for control?" Then respond accordingly.
This is a concept every parent should at least hear and have the opportunity to make an informed decision as to which way they will choose. So go ahead and pass this along to every parent you know – in your kids’ school, your church, at work, and in your community. Read this to your family around the dinner table tonight. This would be a great conversation starter, and it’s a great way to get everyone on the same page! You can also forward this message and post this link on Facebook and Twitter. Please leave me your comments below, too!
Don’t forget to join me every Sunday night for The Dani Johnson Show! This nationally syndicated radio show starts at 9 pm ET/8 pm CT! See ya then!
In great faith,
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