WordWatch: “Because”

by Scott Noelle

Today, look out for the word “because” in your prose. Notice that the word is almost always followed by an explanation, justification or reason that subtly assigns power to some external condition.

For example, suppose you decide to leave the park and your child asks, “Why do we have to go?” If you answer, “Because it’s time to get ready for dinner,” then you’re essentially saying that the event called dinner (or time itself) somehow has power over your lives.

A truer, more empowering response would be, “We don’t ‘have to’ go... I’m choosing to go.” In other words, you are the cause... not the clock.

Parents unconsciously avoid such empowering statements for fear that it will lead to a power struggle. But you have a choice about that, too. You can choose to express power with (rather than over) your child.

With a little creativity, you can “be Cause” together.

Originally published on 2006-07-24
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