We live in a world that loves the idea of obedience.  Blind obedience.  First-time obedience.  Obedience without question.  Obedience without complaint.

o·be·di·ence
noun

  1. compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another’s authority.
    “children were taught to show their parents obedience”

To what outcome does obedience accomplish? For whose sake?  There are times when it is very important that people of all ages follow rules and laws.  Those are truly few in the grand scope of life.  We need to consider the things we are asking of children to see if they are truly a need or if they are arbitrary things that someone has decided are important and necessary, that may not be at all.

We tell children to not talk to strangers for example, but then expect them to talk to strangers all the time.  Friends or co-workers of adults, even relatives that are not familiar to the child are placed before kids, and we demand they show “respect” and talk to them, answer them, allow themselves to be touched/hugged by them.  If a child does not obey our command to engage with others they get reprimanded.  What kind of message are we truly sending?

So many parents demand obedience from children towards adults and then when a child is confronted with an adult (or even another child) who poses a threat we want them to not obey.    Not all authority figures are worthy of following, and not all things said by those whom a child would be willing to acquiesce to is in their best interest to follow without question.

Respect can be demanded but that rarely, if ever, has an outcome of respect.

If you want to control and coerce another, punishment is often effective. If you want true understanding and change, punishment is ineffective.

Perhaps you do not intend to act in a hateful way towards your kids, but you may not be treating your children with equal respect and consideration. Are you willing to acquiesce to someone else asserting authority over you?   Having them demanding respect and believing you have to give it?  Would you actually mean it?  Would you submit to and obey all others without complaint or questioning, and agree to punished if you do not? That would include allowing any kind of punishment that you believe is appropriate and acceptable to do to a child be done to you. Perhaps you don’t hate them, but they could come to hate you.

If you would not accept that from any other person, someone bigger, stronger, more developmentally and emotionally mature than you, someone who is supposed to be caring for and about you, then it would stand to reason that a child should never have to be treated and mistreated in such a manner.

There are so many ways to work with a child that does not need to have authority asserted over them. au·thor·i·ty: 1.the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience. Perhaps we should not put authority on such a pedestal. Why do we believe children deserve to be ordered around and to be obedient without question? How is that respectful? If you want respect from others, you need to be respectful to them. Be the example of what you want from them. “power” “right” “enforce” – those things are favorites of tyrants, parents should be partners, not tyrants. There is a choice to be made regarding this.

There are kinder and gentler ways to raise a child to be respectful, to thrive, to understand and choose to follow those who may have authority over them within the home, in a job situation … Look for what is loving, kind, respectful, helpful, and builds connective relationships with your kids.