When your child says “Why can’t I get a puppy?”

Instead of defaulting to “My house, my rules”

Try “Any pet is a lot of responsibility. A puppy would have to be fed, walked, and taken outside to use the bathroom several times a day and taken for regular check-ups and vaccinations at the vet. You can’t do all of that by yourself, and I/we don’t have the time or money either.”

When your teenager says “Why can’t I come home at 2:00 this Saturday?”

Instead of defaulting to “My house, my rules!”

Try “The time you come home is a matter of respect and consideration. I/We will not only be concerned for your safety, but we would either be disturbed in the middle of the night when you arrive or forced to stay up for several extra hours waiting.”

When your child says “Why am I not allowed to do this thing?”

Instead of defaulting to “My house, my rules!”

Try actually communicating a legitimate reason, because children pick up on subtlety and on context and on the unspoken messages, and it’s better to teach children lessons like “You should think really hard before taking on new responsibilities” and “It’s important to show consideration for the needs of the people with whom you share a living space” than lessons like “It’s okay for people to demand your absolute obedience so long as you’re dependent on them for survival.”


This depends on the kid, really. Some kids respond very well to being given a reason why. Others will just try and find a way to get around your reason. “Why can’t I go outside?” “Because it’s too dark.” “What if I bring a flashlight?” “Because it’s also cold.” “What if I wear a coat and bring a flashlight?” “Because a flashlight isn’t enough light.” “What if we turn on all the house light and open the curtains so it lights up the yard and then I can go outside?” etc. I don’t think you can really give one-size-fits-all child raising advice.

“Because it’s 8:00 PM, which is nearly bedtime. Plus, if you were to go outside this late at night, I would have to sit outside and watch you to make sure nothing happens to you, and I have things I have to do inside.”

If that doesn’t work, “I said no and told you why, and my my decision stands. You can play inside until bedtime, but you’re not going outside.”

On the note of “one size fits all child raising advice”… it is ALWAYS better to opt to teach your child reason and respect and a healthy relationship with responsibility than it is to teach them 

It’s okay for people to demand your absolute obedience so long as you’re dependent on them for survival.” because they will take these lessons forward with them to inform them on how to behave towards other people.

No one is saying you can never break it down to you being the decision maker or being responsible for them or even an ultimatum in cases where a child is really set on not listening.

We’re saying that “because I said so” should not be the go to response for all things and that anytime you are defaulting to that, you should probably be considering what you could teach them instead. 

“Because I am the authority figure and it’s my job to take care of you and this is the judgement I am making. Period.” can be a valid answer, but it should be the last resort. And it should be framed like that, and not as “you owe me your existence.”

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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