Monday, August 8, 2016

On Teaching Kids Not To Obey

I am not a parenting expert. I'm a mom with an opinion. Lets get that out of the way right now. I'm not going to try to list my qualifications, because aside from the fact that I'm the second of eight kids (lots of big sister hours logged here) and I have three kids, I have no real credentials.

But I want to talk about kids and obedience.

Growing up, I never thought the subject of obedience was a controversial one or worthy of much discussion, because I was taught to obey my parents. As I've grown to become an adult, then a mother and an auntie and a human being who lives in society, I've seen and heard a few things that cause me to ache inside. If you're expecting me to say that I hurt because "kids these days just aren't taught to miiiiind authority" then this isn't the blog for you.

No, I hurt because I have seen and spoken to adults who were once children who were taught to obey with absolute and unwavering compliance and it hurt them deeply. If you were taught to obey and it never caused you any harm, I hope you'll keep reading.

I started hearing moms ask, quite seriously, "Should I make my kids obey me?" And at first I didn't understand the question. I thought the answer was an obvious yes.

See, I expect my kids to obey me. I expect them to obey their dad and I expect them to obey their grandparents, and for the most part, their aunts and uncles and Sunday school teachers/small group leaders and their bus drivers and school teachers as well.

When a child of mine comes home in a huff about any of those persons in authority over them, I will side with the authority figure 99% of the time. Kids are kids with brains that are still developing, and they are, of course, immature and usually uninformed about the facts of many situations. I unapologetically consider myself a "straighten up and fly right" sort of mom. 

But I don't just talk to my kids about obeying authority these days. I am so thankful for the precious, willing, healing people who have shared personal stories that have taught me that there is more.

Now I also talk to my kids about when they should say no to authority. When they should kick up a fuss and make as much noise as they can and refuse to obey. I tell my kids that when authority is hurting your body or touching you in any way that is inappropriate, you stop listening and you tell someone that you trust. I tell them that it doesn't matter who it is. It doesn't matter if it's someone I like, love, or respect. It doesn't matter if it seems minor or silly, you can tell Mom and Dad. I have learned that these conversations have to happen early, and then I hope and pray that that information is never needed by my kids. I drill them from the time that they are toddlers on which parts of their body are "only theirs" and we recap often.

And sometimes I think we forget that the parents in our society are often wounded people. We tout that if only spanking made a real comeback, kids would learn respect. I'm not here to open that can of worms. But I want to turn our eyes toward the fact that if you or I have the blissful privilege of thinking that discipline is the only element lacking from society's parenting ideals, then we are so blessedly ignorant. 

I always knew that there were hurting people in the world, but I didn't always know that it is so many of us. This generation is not unique in that way - people have always been hurting each other - but the exposure and judgment are at an all-time high.

What if the mom with the wild kids is really scared to teach her kids to wordlessly obey? What if her biggest fear in all of life is setting up her children for the kind of hurt that she had to endure? If you think I'm pinning an entire world of poor parenting on extreme situations like abuse and molestation, let me assure you that I understand that that isn't the case. Maybe it's much simpler and no one ever modeled good parenting for the aforementioned mother? But I would also implore you to understand that there are more people in your circle who have lived through abuse than you will probably ever know.

So I guess this is the point of my blog today. Lets teach our kids to obey authority, but lets not be shy about teaching them when to say, scream, declare a confident "NO."

1 comment:

  1. Great job! I like this. There are times to say no, that's for sure. <3 You are so wise. More parenting posts please!


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