articles / Faith / Family life

Why answer why?

“But why?”

For anyone that has a child or is around children, you’ve heard them ask, “Why?”

As a parent, what is your response to why? Is it always the same response or do you do things differently in different situations?

“Because I said so.” Does this sound familiar?

I’ll admit, I do use the because I said so line. I’ve also been known to use variant forms of that phrase. Typically I use this when Josiah asks me why to things that are in reference to obedience. For example, when I tell Josiah to put his lid on his drink or to clean his room and he asks me why, my first response is because I said so. Then I will tell him why once he’s doing what I said. Why do I do this? Because first and foremost he needs to learn to be obedient. He needs to learn that when I ask him to do something he needs to do it and trust that I know what I’m talking about.

If I were to scream “duck” at him, I would want him to do it now and ask about it later. Yes, I know that is a slightly exaggerated and overused example, but it works. Most of the time though, even if I initially tell him “because I said so,” I explain to him why later.

Some disagree with this concept. Some parents feel that they shouldn’t have to explain why all the time when they tell their kids something. The problem with this logic is that humans were created to be curious. We ALL want to know why.

As a matter of fact, my pastor started a Sunday night series called, “What does the Bible say about…?” A large chunk of the Bible is the answer to why questions. Scientists have made excellent discoveries because they asked why.

Knowing why helps us to continue doing or not doing something. My husband and I do not drink alcohol. We used to, but I can’t honestly remember the last time either one of us had a drink. Why? Well, first of all Jimmi’s biological father is an alcoholic. That’s a pretty good reason, but since we’ve drank in the past that’s not really the whole answer to why. We don’t do it because we believe through studying God’s word that it says as Christ-followers we should abstain from it. There are several scriptures that back this up (I won’t list them because debating drinking is not the point of this post).

As our children grow up, because drinking alcohol is such a widely accepted idea (along with many other things such as smoking and sex outside of marriage) it is not good enough to simply tell them, “Don’t drink alcohol.” As they become teenagers if they’ve only been told not to do it, but not taught why we don’t do it then they are more likely to follow along with society’s example. Because when they ask “why” and we as the parents and spiritual leaders don’t give them an answer, they hear society saying, “why not?”

We cannot follow our children around 24/7 for the rest of their lives to know they’re making the right decisions about things. When we’re not around, we have to trust that we’ve parented good enough for them to follow our rules even when we’re not with them. My mom reminded me this weekend of an incident a few New Year’s Eve’s ago and it illustrates my point well.

We were having a get together at my mom and step-dad’s house for New Year’s Eve. At the time, they had a teenage foreign exchange student from Denmark. One of his friends from school had come to the house to celebrate with us. On New Year’s Eve my mom always makes Mountain Dew Strawberry Daiquiris — Strawberry Daiquiris mix and Mountain Dew (instead of alcohol). My mom asked the friend from school if he wanted a daiquiri and he awkwardly replied no. My mom then had to explain to him that we don’t drink at all and that the strongest thing in the drink was Mountain Dew.

That teenage boy could have easily and eagerly accepted the daiquiri under the impression that there was alcohol in it. No one but us would have ever known. He was staying the night and the effects of alcohol would have been long gone by the time he went home. We don’t know that boy’s parents so I can only speculate, but I can guarantee that his parents explained to him why he shouldn’t drink instead of just saying don’t do it. His parents need a pat on the back and so does he.

I want my kids to be able to do the right thing even when I’m not looking. Because the thing is, God is ALWAYS looking. He sees our hearts and he sees what we’re doing even when no one else does.

Especially as Christ-followers, we have to be able to explain why. We have to be able to tell people why we have made the decisions we have made. It keeps us focused. When I’m being questioned and called narrow-minded for a conviction that I have because of the Bible, it’s not me that they’re challenging — it’s the Word of God. I want my children to know why they believe what they believe and why they do or don’t do things because I want them to be able to stand firm and know that it’s not a lost cause.

It is my experience and my belief that if children know why they are being taught to do or not do certain things then they are more likely to respect it and follow what their parents say.


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