We All Need a Why

You know that gut reaction you feel when your child answers back with, “Why?” when you’ve asked them to do something? You want to say, “Because I said so!” and, in fact, you might say just that.

Well, I’ve decided that I have done that for the last time. Why? Because we all need a why. Knowing why makes doing whatever we’re doing so much more worth it. It’s what makes it worth it at all…

Why do I take a shower every day? Because I know that if I don’t, I won’t look good or smell good or feel good. Why did I pass up that second brownie? (Oh, heck yes, I indulged in the first one!) Because I knew I’d otherwise go over my calories for the day, and then I’d be bummed. And those times when I do say yes to that second brownie, I do so knowing the disappointing consequences.

Here’s the difference this new sharing-the-why project is making in my home, in my relationships with my littles. Just this morning, I told my four-year-old not to sit on the arm of the couch, something he does ALL the time (urgh). He asked, “Why?” I said, “Because it will make it sag.” Then he, in his innocence, looked for clarification: “It will make it sad?” I then had the privilege of giving the little man his why, making sure he understood what it means to sag, how it happens, and why we don’t want that for our pretty furniture. He promptly got down.

Now, I’m not expecting perfection. I will probably catch him sitting there again. It might even be today. But he will know why he shouldn’t, and a gentle reminder will give him much less reason to think I’m a crazy lady than will a stern, “Get off the arm of the couch!”

Why is a big motivator in our lives. It’s with us when we’re little, and it’s with us when we’re grown. It settles court cases. It chooses colleges. It decides to have another baby or not to. It makes us excited for new business ventures and healthy recipes and great deals at the mall. It drives us to find the right pediatrician or get into better shape or attempt something new with the hairdo. It can help a kid want to try harder in school. It can help us forgive people who hurt us.

Ultimately, why brings us closer to each other. It’s a language of love that I want a little more of in my life. So if you ask me why, I’ll probably take a moment to tell you.