Raising kids. Keeping House. Choosing joy, every day.

Teaching Kids to Obey

I was at the park last week watching my kids swing and sipping coffee and I overheard this pitiful conversation:

Mother: “Stop pulling your brother. You’re aggrivating him!”

Kid: Ignores the mother and continues to harass the younger sibling.

Mother: “I mean it! Get away from him!” (running over to the kid to threaten, albeit an empty threat)

Kid: intensifies the harrassment and teasing.

Mother: (totally exasperated and yelling) “If you don’t take your hands off of him, I  am going to CUT them off!”

I sat there is stunned unbelief, because this mother allowed herself to be disrespected, disobeyed and was so frustrated that she began a childish rant about cutting off limbs. I felt bad for both of them.

Neither mother, nor child had an ounce of self control or self denial. They did and said what was best for them at that moment. Imagine living in that home!

Did you catch this article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Why French Parents Are Superior?”  While I am sure that not all French parents are superior, the article explains that French parents are attentive to their children, though not child centered, set firm boundaries and expect them to be obeyed, and set aside “down time” for themselves and expect the kids to entertain themselves.

Elisabeth Elliot gave this counsel to her daughter Valerie when she,(Valerie) was feeling overwhelmed by her daily tasks and her homeschooling schedule. She was concerned that her children were not getting enough individual attention because her work load was so tough. After explaining that women through the centuries have always had to spend LONG hours working in order to survive, she encourages her:

The earlier the parents begin to make the laws of order and beauty and quietness comprehensible to their children, the sooner they will aquire good, strong notions of what is so basic to real godliness: self-denial. A Christian home should be a place of peace, and there can be no peace where there is no self denial.

One of the basic realities of life is NO, and a child NEEDS to learn it. (“No, you can’t do what you want, when you want, how you want, my little cherub, because we are all following One who cares about how we live and how we treat each other. Now unhand your sister’s braid, pronto!”)

When a mother tells her little one NO, expect it to be obeyed. Follow through with what you say. If your child refuses to listen to you, how well will they obey what God commands some day?

I had my own struggles with teaching my kids to listen years ago when I came face to face with first born, strong willed, three year old cherub.

  • Rebekah, come here. (She runs the opposite direction.)
  • Rebekah, don’t touch that! (Itty bitty finger reaches out and ever so slightly touches it anyway.)
  • Rebekah, did you just stick out your tongue at Mommy? (Yup. Got a problem with that?)

If they will not submit to your NO, what is the logical end to that? If they refuse to obey you, that snowballs into not obeying teachers, not obeying the law, etc… And someday, our society will tell them NO by locking them in a cell. Of course, it would have been better is the mother insisted that they do the right thing from an early age.

Children need to be part of the kingdom work that you as a Christian family are doing. That means that their little days are not solely about themselves and that they have a purpose bigger than the here and now. And teaching them to submit to a parent (gasp–OBEY!) should be one of the basics!

It isn’t easy and they are going to fight. They want their own way, but you know better! 😉 That is why you have to persist.

Are you struggling with teaching obedience? Are you beginning to think that obedience is not a big deal? The heart behind disobedience is always a big deal. Read Ephesians 6:1 to your kiddos and tell them that in this house, we are going to obey God–All of us! And that you are their special helper to help that meet that goal! 😉