Thursday, September 4, 2014

Why Obedience Matters

This is not a popular subject.

But it is one that hits hard for me.

I just flat out disagree with those who say our children do not need to learn to obey.  As a teacher, I could see how there is more room for flexibility, but as I parent I see no other option.

Recently, my children were in potential danger.  I instructed them to immediately leave the house with me as quickly as possible.  There was no room for discussion or explanation.  For their own safety in order for me to protect them they needed to obey me immediately without question.  

(Side note: we are all fine and the situation was resolved safely.)

This situation reminded me why one of the first family mottoes we teach our children is "Children obey your parents."  

While it may seem arcane to some, there's a reason it's stood the test of time.  There is a reason children are placed under the loving governance of their parents.  There is a reason parents have a degree of authority over their children respected by the state and national government as well as most of society.  Because until a certain age, children are incapable of looking out for their best interests.

My parents raised six children to successful and well-adjusted adulthood in a "benevolent dictatorship" as they called it.  The reared us lovingly, but firmly with high expectations and no room for revolt.  I am a better person for the it.

Obviously, as a former educator and loving parent myself, as much as I am able to I explain my reasons to my children I do.  We frequently discuss making right choices.  We love to use natural consequences and teachable moments.  These are all part of training our children to be wise decision makers and guiding them towards healthy independence.  But in our home, independence and freedom are not inherent rights.  They are earned based on positive choices.  They come after a foundation of obedience that has been built through the early years.  

Obedience is a forerunner for following directions.  Being able to follow directions is a marketable skill in education and in the future work place.  Regardless of giftedness, our goal as parents is to raise people who can survive and thrive in the real world.  I personally am not raising an anarchist.  

At least at this point.

I want to raise a world changer, but it starts with raising a child who is teachable.  In our home, that includes following directions cheerfully first without arguing.  Discussion comes after obedience.  

In my book, I have a statement somewhere along the lines of "your children need to learn to submit to authority".  

Would you believe that I actually get emails about that one line?  Seriously.  I do.

Despite the continued conversation about it, I stand by my position.  Our children will most likely be in positions where other people are in authority over them at some point in their lives.  Many points quite probably.  They will have teachers, principals, bosses, and a host of other people in authority over them.

Some will be smarter than them and some will not.

Some will be worthy of their respect and others will not.

We do our children a disservice if we do not teach them how to graciously obey people in positions of authority of them.  There is nothing demeaning about obedience, as Eleanor Roosevelt so famously states, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." As we age, hopefully gracefully, we learn that it is a choice but it is still a choice towards obedience mitigated by self-control and self-government.  

1 comment:

  1. Can you expand on this? I am struggling with obedience with my daughter and I agree that I prefer that she say ok and comply and discuss later. It's not about control for me, and we have open and honest talks about this often. Some days she is eager and willing, some days there are tantrums. My question is HOW to encourage consistent compliance? (You can email me at jennasnyder4 at gmail - thanks!)


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