Childrearing

When It Comes To Discipline, ‘Obey’ Is Not A Dirty Word

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I’m going to ask a pretty basic question that might make some parents angry. What’s so wrong with the word “obey”? Why are we so against discipline that forces our children to listen and obey, strictly because we’re the parents and they’re the children? And when did obedience and confidence become mutually exclusive?

I’ve been thinking a lot about discipline lately. It’s occurred to me that there is a very fundamental difference in the parenting techniques practiced by my own parents and the ones practiced by my friends and co-workers. Suddenly, children need to be polite and well-behaved, not because we demand them to, but we want them to respect those around them. We wants children to listen, not because we demand it, but because they sympathize with our position. Kids should worry about our feelings.

I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with teaching children to be respectful and compassionate. In fact, I think those things are very important. But that doesn’t mean that these values have to be the crux of my disciplinary strategy. What’s so wrong with expecting my daughter to listen, simply because I demand it?

Even if modern parents avoid the term, obedience is a necessary skill for life. In the process of building your career, you’re going to have a boss that you simply have to listen to and obey their orders. You might not respect this person. You might not empathize with their position. But you’re going to have to listen anyways, but it’s your job.

Following your boss’s orders won’t make you less of a person. It won’t make your opinions less valid. And it doesn’t have to damage your self-esteem.

What about the legal system? It’s easy to say that teaching morals will guarantee that your children follow the law. But I think those who work in the legal profession will agree that the penal code was not always written according to the world of moral ethics. I don’t think it’s immoral to drive 50mph in a 45 zone. But it’s still against the law and it’s a rule that we must obey.

Obedience has a place in our society, and I don’t think that it harms children to teach them that from an early age.

The arguments against rules and demands in the parenting world always seem to center around a child’s independence and self-confidence. But there are ways to stay in control and still allow your children to have their own opinions and emotions. My daughter doesn’t have to agree with her bedtime, she can be frustrated that it’s earlier than she chooses and she can explain to me why she should stay up. Sometimes, I might acquiesce and sometimes I might. Either way, she’s aware that I’m the one who makes the decision.

I don’t accept that confidence and obedience are mutually exclusive. It’s possible to be a strong person, even a strong little person, with your own thoughts and beliefs and still follow the rules laid out for you. Once again, I’m confident in my work, even if I have to listen to my boss.

My daughter know that I’m in charge. I’m the one who makes the decisions in our house. And yes, it’s because I’m the adult. I’m the one who makes the rules because I’m the parent and I have the experience to know how to keep my child safe.

My little girl has her own opinions. She expressions her emotions thoughtfully. She’s confident in her abilities. But she also knows that adults make rules and she has to follow them.