Beanie is three. Nearly everything we talk about is met with the question of, "why?" I love her curiosity, her desire to learn more, and her enthusiasm. But, as every parent knows, sometimes that question of why can be exhausting.
The other night we were driving home from dinner and we had to stop at the store. Beanie wanted to come too, to which I replied no. She wanted to know why and was upset which brought about a conversation between Glenn and I. See, I only said no because I just had to grab one quick thing (the palm shortening for the icing) and figured it would be a heck of a lot easier to just run in, grab it and pay while Glenn sat in the car with the kids. But, was that really a good enough reason to upset my little girl's hopes of coming in and helping Mommy? Glenn talked about how whenever his parents said no and he asked why they never had a reason. It was just "because I'm the parent," or something along those lines. Our job as a parent is not to exert control over our kids and tell them no just for the sake of stroking our ego and showing that we are the ones in charge. There's always a why behind the no. Sure, sometimes it's easier to say, "because I said no!" but that doesn't really help your child to learn the reasoning behind what you do. It doesn't help your child develop, grow and learn.
I'm not saying I never will say, "because I'm the parent," but I do think we need to examine the reasons behind saying no to our children and to explain those reasons to them. If it's just a matter of convenience -- like saving a minute or two at the grocery store -- is it really worth it to say no just to exert your power?
All four of us headed in to the store to pick up that one little tub of shortening. Did it take longer than if I'd just run it and done it myself? Sure. But, you know what, we don't always get a lot of time as a family and, hey, I'll take it even if it's just buying some shortening. Beanie had a great time telling the cashier she was going to make me a Big Bird cake (don't know exactly where that came from), she got to help, and I got a good lesson in really thinking about why I'm saying no.