Tool For Tuesday: Drop the Because.

Can I go to the movies, Mom?

No, because it costs a lot of money with the popcorn.

I won’t buy popcorn.

But the soda’s also expensive.

I won’t buy soda.

The tickets cost a lot.

I have my own money, so can I go?

No, because I don’t want to pick you up so late.

I have a lift.

Did you want the kid to go? Do you want to lend your favorite dress?

Drop the because. If you give a because…then you are giving the other person the ammo. You’re opening the door so he can talk his way into the answer he wants.

What you can say instead:

No, I’m sorry, it just won’t work out.

Not, “it won’t work out for me.” Keep me out of it. Stay neutral.

Or, “Yes, sounds great, maybe another time.” That’s even better. Let ’em live in hope.

Don’t say, “I’ll think about it,” because as my mother would say, then they’ll hock you from now until lunchtime on Yom Kippur.” (That’s a fast day.)

If they ask again, why not?

Be a broken record. Because it just won’t work out, because it just won’t work out…

You get the picture. (About the illustration, it has nothing to do with what I’m saying except her name is Tuesday Taylor.)

This works for any situation: colleagues asking you to help them with a
report you don’t want to help them with, friends, partners, children, neighbors
(“Do you mind if I borrow your lawn mower?”).

We really can transform our life in tiny ways beginning today, just by how we respond. And the benefit is that we don’t get bogged down in a swamp of resentments because we wanted to say no and were manipulated out of it.

Tool for Tuesday: Drop the because.

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About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is a writer living in northern Israel whose novel, A Remarkable Kindness, is forthcoming from HarperCollins in August. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, and other publications. Her first book, The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker) was nominated for a National Jewish Book Award.
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6 Responses to Tool For Tuesday: Drop the Because.

  1. Turnip Times says:

    Great advice. I also like “because I said so.”

  2. Janet says:

    Though I do agree it’s best not to give a “because” at the outset – which sets a parent up as the defensive party, I have to disagree with this advice. Parents DO owe their children explanations (though not excuses), and they will respect you for it. It helps them develop their powers of reason, shows respect for their intelligence, and that they matter as individuals. If not to their parents, then to whom?

    “When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.” – Bertrand Russell

    (Submitted respectfully!)

    • dianabletter says:

      That’s a good point, Janet, and well taken! I think it might depend on the age of the child. I agree that parents do owe kids a reasonable explanation about things. Thanks for writing, and I appreciate the Russell quote. I’m always open to hearing other insights! This is great. Thank you again!

      • Janet says:

        Thanks, Diana. You also make a good point, that age needs to be factored in, too, but maybe that just means reasoning with different amounts or types of information… to a five-year-old, “That’s not an option” introduces a new concept. To a 15-year-old, well, they’re going to want a pretty good reason why it isn’t! Thanks for your reply. Yours is such an upbeat blog and I truly enjoy your positive message.

      • dianabletter says:

        Thank you again, Janet, for your comments. I wasn’t aiming for totalitarianism parenting style. I think that today I see so many parents negotiating with their 3-year-olds about every issue. So thank you for pointing this out. Hope all is good in Spain!

      • Janet says:

        Well, yes, that’s a bit wimpy, isn’t it! I suppose parenting can go to extremes in either direction 😉 Things are wonderful here, thanks! I hope you’re well (and safe!).

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