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File:Becauseimthemommythatswhy.jpg

Don't do this, and don't Do that

What are they trying to do?

Make a good boy of you

Do they know where it's at?

Don't criticize, they're old and wise

Do as they tell you to

Don't want the devil to

Come and put out your eyes
Supertramp, School

Because I Said So is another one of the Parental Issues tropes. It is known by a handful of StockPhrases:

  1. "Because I said so."
  2. "Because I'm the mommy/daddy, that's why."
  3. "Because you're just a kid and you don't know any better."
  4. "Because you're too young to know what you want."
  5. "Because! That's why!"

Essentially, this trope describes adults who believe that simply being the parent grants them the right to rule unquestioned over their child, so there's no need to explain anything to their child.

The problem is that it is in the nature of children to test boundaries and ask questions (of course, it is also in the nature of children to be stupid ignorant, so it kind of equals out.)

So when Moms and Dads see their child about to do something [or encounter the child announcing their intention to do] they believe or know to be a bad idea, their reaction happens like a bad conditioned reflex. As a result of their belief that they should rule unquestioned, the parent will just say "No!" with increasing emphasis [and increasing ire the more the child questions the mandate].

Mom and Dad's insistence on their unquestioned authority is a type of Parental Obliviousness, leaving them blinded by their disciplinarian attitude, unaware that they've just laid out a beautiful platter of Forbidden Fruit; that the "NO!" without explaining why they are dead set against their child doing the thing the child wants to do, or why they think it is such a terrible idea is what is driving the child's questions.

Consequently, the child often becomes all the more determined to do what has been forbidden, often going to ludicrous lengths to do so. If the child does obey, it's usually with flinging him/herself on the bed, and possibly cries of:

  1. "I hate you!"
  2. "You're ruining my life!"
  3. "You never let me do anything I want to do!"

Most frequently, the parent ends up regretfully confessing that they did the forbidden thing themselves as a child and they only wanted to protect their own children from the same mistake/misfortune.

Other times, the parent just doesn't explain actions that make no sense to the child, and upsets or estranges them. But the confession ends up about the same. The parent was trying to protect the kid. And it's always with the best intentions.

Usual endings include:

  • Someone commenting that the parent in question seems to have forgotten what it was like to be a child [even though the parent is actively remembering part of what their youth was like].
  • Someone commenting "you have to let the child make his/her own mistakes."
  • The child in question beginning or continuing to think Adults Are Useless.

Often a stock form of Conflict Ball.

A type of Appeal to Authority.

Examples of Because I Said So include:


Anime and Manga

 Naruto How do you know that I have two kinds of chakra?

Jiraiya Because I am a sennin.

Naruto That didn't make any sense.

Film

  • In Erin Brockovich, the titular character reveals to a mother that a corporation had hidden the fact that her home and water supply is contaminated by a deadly toxic waste. The mother looks outside in horror at her kids in a pool and realizes that they are literally neck deep in dangerously polluted water and runs to get them out. When the kids ask why they had to get out, she yells "Because I said so!" guessing correctly that explaining toxic waste poisoning to children under 10 years old is as counterproductive as it is pointless.
  • Kat in Ten Things I Hate About You is dead-set against her little sister dating the Jerk Jock, but refuses to say why until late in the movie, when she reveals she dated him once and slept with him, upon which he dumped her.
  • The title of a romantic comedy. Thoroughly unmemorable, apparently, since that's about all I can think of about it.
  • In the film version of Matilda, our amazingly precocious protagonist is made to do as she's told because "I'm big and you're small, I'm right and you're wrong, I'm smart and you're dumb, and there's nothing you can do about it."
  • The cop in Moonrise Kingdom tells Sam, "I can't argue with anything you said, and I don't have to, because you're 12."

Literature

  • In The Dresden Files Action Mom Charity causes an Egregious example. Charity is so ashamed of her own history with magic and knowledge of the Laws of Magic that she never tells anyone about it. Instead she engages in yelling matches with already rebellious teenage Molly about the use of her burgeoning magic talent. This results in the unwitting Molly breaking said laws, and Harry having to put his life on the line to prevent the White Council from killing her.
    • She goes double time later on when she tries to forbid Harry teaching Molly to use magic; Molly tries to cite the parable of the talents[1] as an argument in her favor, and Charity tells her, "Don't you dare quote scripture at me, young lady!" Which is the last thing a woman as religious as Charity should ever be saying to her child.
  • Irvine Welsh's Porno: Spud doesn't take an argument with Begbie further, as he knows it will be along the lines of "No it won't", "Yes it will", "How so?", "Because I fucking says so".
  • In The Discworld novels, The Patrician has used this once or twice, though in his case his justification is because he's officially a tyrant. For example:

 On what charge?

There doesn't have to be one!

    • There is actually a legal precedence for Vetinari using this. It's called "Quia ego sic deco" or "Because I say so."
  • Harry Potter's Dolores Umbridge does this in spades. At one point, she punishes Hermione for daring to form an opinion, saying "I am here to teach you using a Ministry-approved method that does not include inviting students to give their opinions on matters about which they understand very little." Snape too. When Hermione suggests he listens to Sirius and Lupin's story at the end of Prisoner of Azkaban, he yells "KEEP QUIET, YOU STUPID GIRL! DON'T TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND!" And, of course, the Dursleys had their "don't ask questions" rule. Really, a lot of adults in the series, though most are well-intentioned and just trying to protect Harry and friends from the Awful Truth, which they tend to find out anyway.
    • Played with at the end of Philosopher's Stone when Harry asks to hear the truth about some things and Dumbledore states upfront that the truth "is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution. However, I shall answer your questions unless I have a very good reason not to, in which case I beg you'll forgive me. I shall not, of course, lie." So, for what it's worth, he explained not explaining in a non-condescending fashion.
    • In Deathly Hallows, Harry, Ron, and Hermione do this to the adults (though they're technically adults in wizarding society by this point) when they insist their secret mission from Dumbledore must remain so, even from their parents.

Live Action TV

  • HRG in Heroes forbade Claire from her Homecoming dance because he expected a Sylar attack. Claire, being a teenager, gave into her friend's insistence she should go anyway. Further, Claire's mother knew full well Claire would rebel, didn't assist her husband in keeping Claire at home [HRG had not let her in on his reasons for keeping Claire home]. She displayed surprising insight and halfway subverted the trope.
    • Then there's season 2, where HRG, under the excuse of trying to stay under the company's radar, uses Because I Said So to keep Claire from dating because it looks like it will lead to his death. Exactly as you'd expect, his efforts eventually lead to his death. Of course, it turns into a Shaggy Dog Story because by the end of that same episode he's Back From the Dead. But that's season 2 for ya.
  • In Supernatural, Dean (who in addition to being a big brother to Sam was also something of a father figure, because their dad was usually not around) said exactly this to Sam when Sam wanted to summon the Crossroads Demon to try and break Dean's deal. (If they try to break the deal, then Sam will die). Sam goes and summons the Crossroads Demon anyway, without Dean's knowledge, and ends up killing her.
  • The "Drugs Are Bad, mkay?" episode of Home Improvement had Tim and Jill telling Brad that yes, they grew up in the sixties, and at the very least Jill tried it--and was thrown in prison, having to be bailed out by Tim (in real life, before his TV career, Tim Allen spent two and a half years in jail for possession of cocaine). Another episode, dealing with religion, went the other way--Tim says he doesn't mind whatever Randy thinks with regards to religion (as the most intellectual of the Taylor children is beginning to abandon the church, though not his faith), as long as "your butt's in that pew" on Sundays.
  • The "Nightcrawlers" episode of The Adventures of Pete and Pete has Big Pete's narrative point out that this excuse is guaranteed to "make any kid's guts boil instantly." Sure enough, when Mom tells Little Pete he has to go to bed at 9pm "because she said so," he rebels by gathering up his friends and promising he'll stay up for eleven nights in a row.

Professional Wrestling

  • "And that's the bottom line, 'cause Stone Cold said so!"

Tabletop Games

  • "Because I Said So" is frequently the only justification that the Inquisition of Warhammer 40000 will ever give you, for anything. Including orders to destroy planets. And that's if they bother to provide a justification in the first place.
    • And because they are the Inquisition, when they say "I said so," you listen.
    • Unless you're a Space Marine. In those cases, Inquisitors are smart enough to say "please" and give a justification. Those that don't will likely never say anything again.
    • Repeat after me: The Commissar is always right.
  • GM's sometimes fall into using this phrase as they try to keep a game in a state resembling order.
    • This is colloquially known as "rule zero"; the approved version is "when in doubt, what the GM says, goes." This is best used as a tool for defusing Rules Lawyers.
      • Actually it's a very poor tool for defusing rules lawyers, as it normally only tends to antagonize them.

Video Games

  • In Eternal Sonata, a boy witnesses Polka using magic to heal a man (who promptly runs for his life as soon as he is able). He's amazed by her glowing, and his mother pulls him away, telling him not to go near people who glow like that. He asks why. Cue the trope. (In the world of the game, magic is almost always a side effect of a fatal illness. It's thought to be contagious, thanks to a rumor.)

Western Animation

  • In Disney's The Replacements Agent K told Todd and Riley at some length they were never to go to a carnival of any kind, under any circumstances, ever, on earth. Todd pretty much reacted to this with "she pretty much dared me to go." It turns out that K had, as a child, run away to the carnival herself, and didn't want her children to make the same mistake she had.
  • In Disney's The Little Mermaid, After Ariel the mermaid meets a hunky human prince, King Triton forbids her from going to the surface of the ocean out of fear of humans, which prompts her to trade her voice for a human body to live on land and try to win his heart.
  • Parodied in South Park, when Stan's Dad displays a ridiculously over-the-top hysteria about Stan's desire to form a boy-band with his friends, but refuses to explain why until the end -- turns out he was in a boy band once, and it all went wrong.
  • In an episode of Arthur, the title character used a variant of this on his little sister:

 D.W.: Why?

Arthur: Because.

D.W.: Because why?

Arthur: Because because.

D.W.: Because because why?

Arthur: Because because because.

D.W.: Because because because why?

Arthur: Because because because because!

D.W.: Because because because because WHYYYYYY?!?

Arthur: Because because because... because...

Buster: *Whispers in Arthur's ear*

Arthur: You'd get scared of the dark!

  • Johnny did that to Sarah and Jimmy in the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Shoo Ed".

 Sarah: Johnny, get out of there!

Johnny: Why?

Sarah: Cause I said so!

Johnny: Why?

Sarah: Cause you're bugging us!

Johnny: Why?

Sarah: CAUSE YOU'RE STUPID!!!

(beat)

Johnny: Why?

Truth in Television

  • The lengths many parents will go to in order to prevent children from having any knowledge of swearing, and forbidding children from actually swearing themselves
  • A common reply when one's parent can't think of a comeback.
  • Parents often do this when saddled with an Constantly Curious child or Curious Monkey.

Webcomic

  • Digger: The Statue of Ganesh comments to the titular wombat that neither the statue nor the Knight Templar it was previously addressing want to have a conversation ending with "Because I'm a god and I say so."

Notes

  1. A man gives three of his servants some money; to one he gives ten talents, to another he gives five, and to the last he gives but one. The man who gets ten talents goes out and invests them, as does the man who got five talents. When the boss next comes around, they say, "Look here, we took the money you gave us and put it to work, and for our efforts the money has doubled." And the master praises them. But the man who got only one talent took it and buried it in the ground, and when the master comes around, he digs it up again and says, "See, I buried your money and kept it safe!" And the master berates him for his sloth.
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