Hello! I hope this post finds you well.
I’ve been considering one of the hot-button words in our culture: obedience.
I won’t speak to the general distaste society has for the concept of obedience, but I want to say a few words about why I believe children desperately need to be taught to obey correct principles and their parents.
Of course I advocate for children to have a voice about their own safety, about with whom and where they feel comfortable and safe, and in some regards, maybe as a society we are aiming for that goal.
But, I would submit that in recent years, children have become more vulnerable, not less. And that vulnerability has come, at least in part, because parents sometimes hesitate to lead out and teach their children the lessons of obedience, because:
1 they don’t trust themselves with the task (which I fully understand)
2 because the loudest voices have our society questioning the basic principles of right and wrong
Is there right and wrong after all? And how can parents be confident enough in themselves to be assertive teachers?
Dr. Greg Baer, author of the Real Love titles, says that “behavior is right when it leads to being unconditionally loved, loving and responsible.”
“…wrong is any behavior which interferes with those conditions.” Real Love in Parenting, pg 25
Here are a few facts:
Because of their size and lack of experience and understanding, children are vulnerable and desperately need the protection of their parents. (Afterall, kids are not small adults any more than men are misbehaving women! Two thinking errors that cause a great deal of grief in families!)
One way to give children the protection they need is to teach them (while being kind, gentle, respectful and firm), to be obedient to their parents. Not doing so is irresponsible and dangerous on our part!
Small children don’t yet have the ability to understand the dangers of a busy street, wandering off without a parent or older sibling, safety rules and why they’re important, how quickly and easily bodily damage can happen, etc.
Teaching a child to obey a responsible parent is not only necessary but critical to their safety and well being!
So, what keeps us from being dedicated to our children’s well-being when it comes to teaching them to obey?
It may be that we are afraid of:
1 damaging their psyche (isn’t this mostly if we are not in control of ourselves?)
2 embarrassing them in front of others (again, are we in control of ourselves?)
3 being criticised by other adults
4 our children possibly feeling controlled (like maybe we did) and becoming rebellious
I had all of these fears as a young parent. So imagine my joy when I learned that teaching and loving can happen at the same time! At home or wherever we are!
Knowing that has given me a grand sense of liberation! I’ve been searching for this piece of relationship know-how all my life.
I now know that my (grand)children can feel my love, even when, or especially when I am seeing, accepting and loving them when they have made a mistake or are feeling unlovable, and I am not irritated or angry, just loving and teaching and helping them to be responsible.
I hope that you will feel encouraged to lead out in your family! They need your leadership! They need you to listen to them, a lot! They need you to:
1 set boundaries for them to keep them safe
2 teach them to defer gratification (work and earn and learn)
3 teach them to make decisions and learn from their mistakes
4 become more and more in control of themselves (responsible), through being obedient to your family rules
5 teach them to practice the principles of unconditional love with their siblings and friends
6 teach them to tell the truth about themselves
This is a recipe for a happy adult life!
Of course the best way for them to learn these lessons, is for you and me to model love, patience, truth telling, and self-accountability. We must feel more loved, practice being kind and firm in concert and commit to loving and teaching our children over and over, every day.
I’m wishing you all the best!
P.S. We all feel more confident and safe when we know what our boundaries are. Kids especially need to know the parameters of your family.
Boundaries can be:
Bedtime. Chore time. Time for quiet. Obeying house rules and knowing consequences of disregarding them. Respecting the property of others. Gathering for meals. Caring for a pet. Telling a parent where you are going to be.
A family boundary can also be that we will work out our challenges with words, soft voices and not anger or violence.
What are your family boundaries?
What did you learn from this article?