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Parenting Tip

January 4, 2013

 Understanding Obedience

 We live in a society where an emphasis on teaching obedience sounds to some like heavy-handed authoritarianism. Parents don’t want to be dictators so they sometimes move far away from anything that looks like being controlling. This is unfortunate since God is the one who gave the instructions for children to learn obedience. Hidden within this quality are the principles that will make children successful as they get older.

When children learn to obey they learn to give up their own agenda for someone else. They learn to listen to an instruction and follow through with it. They learn how to be responsible, check back, and complete a task. In short, when children learn obedience, they not only make family life easier but they also develop the character that will make them more valuable in the work place, the community, and the world. In fact, learning to obey parents teaches kids what they need in order to obey God.

We say that obedience is “doing what someone says, right away, without being reminded.” Children as young as three years old can memorize this simple definition and understand what it means. Parents sometimes think that obedience is the same as compliance. When a parent says, “I can get my children to obey eventually,” that’s not obedience. Compliance is only part of obedience. When you say to your son, “It’s time to go to bed now,” and he says, “As soon as I’m done with this game,” that’s not obedience; it’s an excuse for disobedience.

As parents, it’s okay to negotiate and compromise with our children sometimes, but too often children aren’t mature enough for this. In fact, they may be demanding, unable to give up their agenda for someone else. Cooperation requires that both people give and take. In order to get to that stage, children must first learn how to sacrifice or follow. Once they learn that, true cooperation can take place.

Teach obedience and you’ll give your children a valuable gift that will be used for the rest of their lives.

This parenting tip comes from the book Home Improvement, the Parenting Book You Can Read to Your Kids by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.

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