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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Teaching Our Children Obedience

I honestly think that teaching obedience to our children, for the most part has become archaic and obsolete. I read this short article today and it prompted me to write a post about this topic. I tend to think that we have come to believe the child-centered political correct attitudes and beliefs that don't require obedience from children. It's a bad word. It might lead to oppression and quenching of natural inclinations and abilities. Then there is the naivete of parents. They think children come with a blank slate (Tabula rasa) and don't really understand or mean what they are doing and we should just ignore anything they do wrong. I find it amazing that even babies know how to get what they want through crying and can get parents to obey them. Then we also have children demanding parents and telling them what to do. I have seem them regularly. "We cannot expect children to stay still" is how we often excuse bad manners and behavior. The results are misbehaved, ill-mannered children running around in the stores (my children always look at them with the "I can't believe they are doing this!"), yelling and playing. Children talking and playing during church, standing on the pews messing around with the hymnals. Children with behavior problems in school and society. They are only reflecting our lack of teaching them proper behavior and expecting them to be well-mannered anywhere and everywhere. All of it is connected to obedience.

Then there are those that think good behavior (i.e. obedience) should be encouraged by rewards to motivate intrinsic behavior. It always bothered me when I saw this as a teacher. I just didn't buy this idea. How does it really transfer into real life like? Do we always get rewarded for doing what we have to or expected to do? Do we get rewarded for being in line? Do I get rewarded for going the speed limit? How about work? Yes, we get paid for our work but it comes with non-optional requirements (we have to obey and do what we are told). Obedience is expected for adults as well. We obey laws. When we don't, we pay a price (try not paying your taxes) and yet we fail to teach this to our children.

As Christians, our basic duty to God is obedience (see Romans 16:19, Philippians 2:12, Hebrews 5:9, John 14:15). It is our obedience to The Gospel that led us to belief in Christ (see Romans 1:5, John 3:36, Acts 5:32, 6:7) and keep us in the God's path of righteousness (see Romans 6:16, 1 Peter 1:22).  Even our Lord Jesus learned obedience (Romans 5:19, Hebrews 5:8).

Here are some things I teach my children about obedience:

1. They are commanded to obey us (Ephesians 6:1) as we are also commanded to raise them in the ways of The Lord (Ephesians 6:4).

2. We are all called to obey God first and when someone tell us to do something contrary to what God has commanded us, we politely refuse. (I actually do say, "obey your teacher," to my children.) See Acts 5:29.

3. Obedience means doing what you are told the first time.

4. Disobedience will always bring consequences some in the form of discipline.

5. We will always be consistent in our expectations for obedience and in discipline.

children photo: Vintage children vc318.gif
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