As a parent I always complain, “why can’t they just obey me!” I want obedient children. Really I do. I don’t think any parent comes into this job wishing their children will rebel and disobey their every wish, request or plea. We don’t want the constant battles, or the continuous “why?” questions. We want obedience.
Having an obedient child is a good thing. It blesses the family with peace. It keeps things running smoothly. But would it surprise you if I said there is something as too much obedience? It is a fine line and one I often find myself wishing my kids would cross. And then I have to humble myself, and remind myself that it isn’t good for them to be too obedient.
Trouble with Too much obedience
This is what we call the ‘posed to child. A ‘posed to child does what they are “supposed” to do, just because they are supposed to do it. That is the full motivation. Can you see the problem with this?
Why is doing what you are suppose to do so bad?
Am I advocating that kids rebel and do the opposite?
No. It isn’t about what they are doing, but WHY they are doing it. Not being a ‘posed to child doesn’t mean that you stop doing what is right or good or what is asked of you. It means that when you choose to obey, there is a reason to your actions. A choice, a deliberance to your choice. (Yes, I did totally make up that word. But it was deliberate, ha!)
When you or your child is active in their choice making it creates a strong character. They are more deliberate in their actions. Thus making them stronger to withstand temptations, peer pressure or the ever changing society values.
The Power in Deliberate Obedience
Take for example, a traffic light. You come to the light and it is red. A ‘posed to child will stop because that is just what you do at a red light. You stop. No other reason. You stop.
A deliberate choice is stopping because you know the pros and cons of stopping or not stopping. You know if you stop it will bless you with safety for yourself and others. You also know that not stopping is dangerous and can cause harm to you or others. Plus a myriad of other consequences from the law. But you know the consequences of both actions and then you make your choice deliberately, you stop. Not because you are supposed to. But because you want the good consequences and not the bad.
Now when a child, or even an adult understands the reason behind their choices it makes it a lot easier to say no when peer pressure comes along.
Take a more serious situation of say skipping school for a child. In my era it was, “You don’t skip school because I say so!” Well that only instills more of the ‘posed to child mentality. Now when the friends come along and beg you to skip school how do you refute the pressure?
“Come on! It will be fun. School is boring! That teacher is stupid. We won’t get caught. And we will be able to do all kinds of fun things!”
Now as a parent we want our kids to make the choice to go to class. But what ‘posed to child will be able to refute the peer pressure?
“Oh I can’t. I’m not suppose to.”
Yeah did that just sound as lame to you as it did to me? You can imagine the replies from the friends already right? Mockery, ridicule and more reasons why skipping school would be a great idea.
In the world of debate that is called not having a defense. You would lose. A ‘pose to child is now left without a good reason to not skip school. It is a 50/50 chance gamble if they will continue to be a ‘pose to child or if they will up and skip school cause they are pressured.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like those odds. The odds would never be in our favor as parents.
But if we teach our kids the consequences of skipping school and the good consequences of not skipping school they can more easily refute the pressure from the peers.
“No thanks. I learn a lot in class. I don’t want to fall behind. There is a higher chance of getting caught than you assume. It will go on our record that could affect college applications. What we do while skipping school could get us into a. Lot of trouble. It doesn’t sound fun to me. I’m going to go to class and get a good grade so I can have better chances for my future.”
Just some ideas of what a deliberate choice could offer your child in replies.
These replies will stand up better and give your child a better chance to resist peer pressure and temptation than simply saying, “I’m not suppose to.”
This is crucial for common teenage trials such a skipping school, drug use, bullying, sexual activity, modest dress, language, cheating, stealing, etc. The list goes on and on. We need to arm our children with strength to face these challenges with strong characters NOW, before they are faced with the situation.
Does the idea of a ‘posed to child make sense now? Does it make sense as to why we don’t want a ‘posed to child?
Sure it would make parenting so much easier. And as a tired parent isn’t that what we all dream of? I mean sheesh, they didn’t give us a manual. Couldn’t they at least give us one easy thing like a ‘posed to child?
But as a parent who wants the best for their child, a ‘posed to child isn’t the answer. It actually sets the child up for failure in the future.
Does this mean we teach our child to question and rebel against everything until they have made up their mind if they want to do what is your choice or not? Not necessarily.
Establishing Deliberate Obedience
You do want to teach your child about obedience. That is a key characteristic that will serve them very well in their life. But not blind obedience. You never want to reply to the popular question, “Why do I have to do this?” With the more popular cliche reply “Because I said so”.
Instead when you ask your child to obey and they question, take a moment to explain both sides of the consequences. If they obey what are the good things that will happen? What are the bad things that will happen if they don’t? Tell them WHY you are asking them to do it.
This helps train your child to use their agency effectively, they can weight the pros and cons. It is perfect training with minor things now like picking up their room or going to bed when you tell them too. So that when the bigger choices come along in the future such as drugs, or breaking the law, or how they perform in a career; they already know how to reason out the pros and cons and can make an informed and deliberate choice. They will know what consequences to expect.
As parents we want to pass on strong and capable children. We want them to succeed in life and be contributing members of society. We want them to have a strong moral compass. Surely as parents we want to pass on our own moral compass to them. Because we believe it. But if you were raised as a ‘posed to child yourself, how can you pass on a moral compass you can’t explain?
Not being a ‘posed to child is never more important than when it comes to morality and ethics. As time moves on, our society is ever changing and the lines of what is moral, ethical and right are continually changing, according to societies standards.
But what do you do when what you believe is right, and what has been right for hundreds of generations is now shown as being bad? How do you teach your child the morals you hold so true? When so much of society is fighting against it?
Our homes and families are under constant attack. Old traditional values are being shown as “old fashioned” and out dated. Being asked to believe that marriage is important and should be taken seriously and one shouldn’t just think, “well if it doesn’t work out, we can always get a divorce” is becoming a thing of the past.
(Mind you, I’m not saying divorce doesn’t have its place. It does, in cases such as abuse, infidelity, and the likes. Just not in the whole, “oh, I just don’t want to be married anymore.” Realm. But that is a whole discussion for another day.)
It has never been more important to raise our kids to understand the WHY, behind the morals we hold dear. So when they are faced with the opposite they can make an informed decision of their own. They will be able to understand your position. And know the opposing position. And they can use their agency wisely instead of blindly.
Allowing and loving without obedience
That is the hardest part of parenting. Agency- the ability to make an informed choice for good or bad, knowing the consequences of either action. Allowing your child the God Given Right to use their agency. And then accepting their choice, whether it aligns with your own choice or not. And still loving your child no matter their choice.
This is crucial. To continue to love your child after they make their choice. Though it doesn’t mean we remove the consequences of their choices, but that we love them through ALL of their choices and allow them to make them. You never want to turn your back and disown your child because they used their agency to make a different choice than you would have made. But that is a topic for another day.
As parents it is our solemn responsibility to teach them how to use their agency wisely, so they can know the consequences of their choices, good or bad.
- Our children need to first understand WHY.
- Then be taught they have the agency to choose.
- Then realize that while they can choose their own actions they are not free to choose the consequence that follows the action.
That is part of agency, if they truly understand the WHY behind their choice, they will be able to foresee the consequences and can make a deliberate and informed choice to get the outcome consequence they want. Instead of choosing the action they want and getting blindsided with a consequence they weren’t expecting.
A ‘posed to child is unable to see the reason why, therefore they are unable to make responsible and deliberate choices. I don’t know about you, but that is not how I want to send my child out into society.
I want my children to be able to reason, and understand why some choices are bad and some are good. I want them to be able to foresee the consequences to their choices. I want them to be able to take responsibility for their choices and actions. I want them to be able to stand up for what they believe and not be swayed to do something they don’t feel is right, simply because they didn’t have a good enough “Why” to refute the peer pressure.
I no longer want a ‘posed to child. I want a deliberate choice making child. I don’t want blind obedience. I want deliberate and educated obedience.
How do you want to send your child into society?
Will your child be a ‘posed to child with blind obedience?
Will your child be a deliberate choice making child?
How will you raise a strong child with the ability to make deliberate choices?