Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Teaching Our Children Disobedience...

...And Other Bad Things

"Behave yourself," I hear mothers say. Behave myself? The child could tell them self to do something wrong and they'd still be obeying their mother. "She told me to behave myself," they could honestly say after committing a crime.

"Don't get that all over the house," I instruct my son as he heads to the table with a cup of water. All over the house? He's probably thinking that would be too hard to do with just an inch of water in the cup. It'll be easy to obey on this one -- even if he manages to spill all of it.

"Watch where you're going and don't run into the wall," I alarmingly call across the house to my distracted daughter. Whammo. Right into the wall. She completely disobeyed me and ran smack, dab into that wall. Should she be punished for her "blatant" disobedience? I think not. Eventually she'll learn that if she doesn't watch where she's going, those walls are just going to keep getting her.

"Be careful," I instruct my son, "Don't fall off that stool." Don't fall off the stool? Like I'm going to try to fall off the stool, he's probably thinking. And then he reaches too far and slips, and, you guessed it... fell off the stool. Tsk, tsk, how disobedient.

And we wonder why our kids don't take us seriously some days.

Most of us probably are very good at teaching our children true obedience but when I listened to myself talk to my kids one day, I had to laugh at myself for all the impossible "training scenarios" I was setting up for my children. Especially Janae. Don't run into the wall? Yeah right!

It got me thinking about other subconscious training we do with our kids everyday and the overall effects our techniques will have on our kids.

There's the parents that tack "please" onto everything. And not just a polite, "please-will-you-do-this-for-me" but the pleading kind of, "Pleeeeeease don't run in front of that car, honey" or, " Pleeeeeeeeease come to Mommy" or "Pleeeeeeeeease don't hit your sister." I heard a mom across the store the other day pleading with her what-looked-like 3 year old child to "Pleeeeeeeeeeeease hurry up, honey.... Pleeeeeeeeeeeease Don't touch that.... Pleeeeeeeeeeeease come here.... Mommy is in a hurry and just needs to grab something quick." Makes me wonder who the real parent is: the child or the person that produced the child.

Or the children who have parents that are teaching them that its okay to give in to fears and dislikes. Not real, live, dangerous fears like running in front of cars but rather, things like food, naps and other necessary practices of health and well being.

Then, my favorite is when a friendly dog shows it's happy, wet face to a child and the parent immediately runs to the child's "rescue" as he screams the way one would if they were having their arm detached from their body. Instead of showing them how to pet the nice dog or even just ignore the critter if its that big of a deal, they instead assure the child that they won't let that "mean" dog hurt them. Saying "mean" always helps the child know their fear of this friendly creature is a very accurate and proper reaction to the tail wagging Rover. They enable their child to fully surrender to an unnecessary and detrimental fear. Then they scoop their half grown boy up in their arms and whisk him away. That poor kid definitely won't have much of a backbone until he's out from his parent's umbrella of safety, unfortunately.

Thinking the best of our children, is something else that is dwelling on my mind in regards to parenting. My brother recently stated a normal practice his drill sergeants do if they sense in their trainees any attitude of dis respective or unwillingness to conform. Intense yelling, harsh physical punishments and demanding requirements are quickly inflicted on the soldier. This method has obviously proven effective for the military but its certainly not very conducive when implemented in a loving home. Do I want my children to give me respect only because I brutally demand it? Do I want my children to look up to me by belittling them? Is that look on their face true rebellion or are they truly frustrated that they're disconnected with their parents?

What about the rude things many parents say to their children? Especially in the face of disobedience on the child's part. Just because a small child committed a disobedience does not entitle any parent to criticize and cruelly correct that child -- no matter how much the child brought them to shame. Disobedience can only be corrected by countering it with positive influence. Though some kind of discipline is wisely needed and should be implemented, continuing the guilt will not ensure that the child will not re-commit the offence. Yet how often it's easy to forget the tender hearts of our young ones and continue to bring up past offences in hopes we can somehow shame them into never doing that again. Does God do that with us? I think we all know the answer.

One of the best words of wisdom I've heard throughout our own parenting of Landon and Janae is this: When you take something negative away, replace it with something positive. That can be as literal as when you take a breakable item out of their hands and then place something safer in their hands instead. The concept stems from the fact that everything we remove from our children's lives, they will turn around and replace it with something. As children grow older and bad influence may come into their lives through ungodly friends or some other negative influence, when we remove those items of destruction from our children's lives, rest assured our children will fill that gap with something else if we don't. And sometimes that something else is worse than what we removed. Mom, take care to fill your mind with creative counterparts to the improper things that come into your children's lives. If the kids can tell we don't really, really care deep down about their lives, hearts, passions and dreams, they won't care to share with us their inner joys and sorrows and will soon have a whole life filled with things we are not in approval of. But by then, many times it's too late to un-do damage.

On another note, how often does a parent thank or praise their child -- even for little things? So often I get caught up in the moment of the request at hand that I forget the sweet effort my 3 year old just made to get that diaper for me or when he obediently sets the table or the times Janae quickly brings her shoes for me to put on her feet. All these things are mundane and constant to me but that doesn't downplay the kind effort my children are showing by putting these things as their top priority.

"Train up a child in the way he should go so when he is old, he will not depart from it."

Endeavoring daily to insure that the way I train my kids will be worth it to them to not depart from when they're old. How awful it would be to not fully train my 2 year old to avoid walls and then when she's 20 and not living at home anymore, get up one morning and say, "Yay! Mom's not around... I get to run into walls today!" It's one thing for a 2 year old to run into a wall, but a 20 year old? I should hope not.


Rachel said...

Great thoughts, Courtney. I'll have to bookmark this one to re-read should the Lord ever bless me with children!!! Until then, the same principles probably apply with little siblings!?!! Glad you're back to blogging again!

BrittLeigh said...


Abraham Lincoln Sanchez said...

I disagree with everything in this blog except the first and last paragraph, and all the words in between them.