If you heard someone described as obedient, what thoughts does it bring to mind? Someone with no mind of their own, who will do what you tell them, who won’t stand up for themselves. Oh no, that’s not what I’m aiming for, and so I do not want ‘obedient’ children.
Children used to be expected to be ‘seen but not heard’, to never answer back, to do as their parents say for no other reason than ‘because I said so!’ Thankfully that has changed a bit, but it does seem to me that a lot of peoplearestill striving for obedience from their children. Or at least that a lot of people expect you to be. The mother in the shopping centre with a screaming child can expect glares and ‘control your child’ comments from passersby. As if children aren’t their own person but more like possessions to be controlled.
That your parenting should be judged on how well your children behave, how quiet they are, how obedient they appear. That somehow the tighter grip you have on them, the more you are able to influence them and they will turn into a respectable adult.
And so ‘talking back’ is ok with me (as long as it’s not rudely).
Asking me why they can’t do something is ok with me.
Trying to negotiate with me is ok.
Disagreeing with me is ok.
Big feelings are ok with me, and not something to be frustrated about.
By reacting this way I am teaching them that no matter if someone is bigger, older, or more powerful, it’s ok to question or stand up for what you think is right. That you can also do this in a polite and respectful way. That often things still don’t go your way and how to deal with that. If instead I chose to enforce behaviour with punishment, never let them question me, or didn’t help them with their big emotions, then how would they learn to deal with these situations in the future? How would that effect our relationship? Would they feel valued, respected, and important? Or would they feel powerless?
I don’t want my children to grow up to be ‘obedient’ adults, who give in to peer pressure, who are afraid to voice their opinion. Nor do I want them to grow up thinking that the way we interact with people younger than us is by coercion and control. Children are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. They can handle simple age appropriate explanations for things. They deserve reasons for our actions. I doubt I would be happy to do something I didn’t want to do if the only reason I was given was ‘because I said so’. I can extend the same courtesy to my children