I have to admit that 2-3 years ago, I bristled at the word obey, too.
Then I ended up with a daughter who has the defiant attitude practically perfected.
One commentor noted that to require children to obey means that the kids get a message that theirs wants comes second, that they don't matter as much. Another said that obey is used for dogs and is such a strong word that she can't use it with kids.
I always like to grab actual definitions and not just the feeling of a word when I really dig in to understand it.
Obey- to comply with or follow the commands, restrictions, wishes, or instructions of: to obey one's parents.
That came from dictionary.com.
Personally, I don't see anything wrong with that definition. Obey means to follow the rules. Obey means to meet expectations. Obey means listening and following.
We have rules and guidelines- like most homes, I assume.
We also have kids that push limits- like most home, I assume.
In the past few months, there has been a slow increase down a hill that came to a head over the past few weeks leading up to Christmas.
These kids of mine haven't been listening. Jeff or I will ask or tell them to stop or to do something and they completely disregard what is being said. Consequences haven't mattered or simply result in a child blowing up (usually the older one).
(Ironically, as I am typing this, my kids were laying on the floor coloring. Then one child got mad at the other and scribbled across the page of the other. Scribbling child is now in "time out." No talk of obeying anything since there wasn't a request just given but there was a family rule broken.)
We have basic family values. 1. Be kind to one another. 2. Be kind with your words, with your hands, with your face.
Obedience isn't one of the tenets of our family foundation.
But there has been a problem brewing for a long time. If I ask you to put away the toys, I do not expect to have to ask you 5 times. If I ask you to not jump on the bed, I expect that you will not jump on the bed.
When Jeff or I ask the kids to do something or to stop doing something, it isn't usually at a time when they are in the midst of doing something pleasant that they have chosen to do. Trust me, if my kids are playing quietly or getting along nicely, I'm not about to disrupt that. I'm not the kind of parent that is a "my way or the highway" type.
But if I ask you to stop jumping and hanging on my back- you need to respect my personal space and stop. If I ask you to throw your trash away, I expect you to respect our home enough to pick up your dirty tissue and put it in the trash.
I found a nice little rhyme that helps my kids realize that I'm serious when I ask for something to happen or for something to stop. "The first time I say it, you obey it."
Yes, there are times when I expect my kids to follow my wishes, to do as I instruct them, to follow rules, to do what they are told when they are told to do it. I'd venture that most parents feel that way. I've heard most parents complain at one time or another about their children not listening, not following directions. It's one of those common concerns in the world of parenting- one of those complaints everyone has had at one point or another.
I've got a strong willed 6 year old who has had a problem with bullying other kids. This same child likes to simply "not hear" requests made by parents. If it were a matter of her agenda or desires being squashed- I'm willing to evaluate that. She has reached a point where she will truly flat-out disobey, simply to test boundaries. Not because she is standing up for her cause or following her true desires. I've walked a fine line with her for 2 years now- carefully choosing battles, trying to determine when to ignore, when to respond.
Maybe if she was an only child, it would be different. I've wondered that so many times before.
Maybe if my kids were simply of the personality types to be more docile, more cooperative, less strong willed, it would be different.
Maybe if I was a stay at home mom or we were a less busy family and did nothing much more than focus on just these 2 kids, it would be different.
But none of those Maybes suit us or our circumstances or these personalities.
For now, we found something that works. We found something that reminds our kids that the things they are asked to do are important things. Bottom line is that there simply are times when we expect our kids to do what they are told, when they are told to do it. Without being asked 20 times, without arguing with us about why or what or when, without fights erupting or meltdowns ensuing. Obedience is necessary in the world. If I choose to not obey my boss at work, there are consequences. If I choose to not obey laws, there are consequences. Teaching my kids about obedience and about when obedience is necessary is appropriate. And there will also be times when my kids will be taught that disobedience is appropriate (those lessons are already ongoing- when a grown up asks you to do something that is against the rules, you are allowed to disobey that grown up, for example).
Obey isn't a bad word. Obey isn't a negative word. Obedience isn't just for dogs or trained dolphins.
(Someday I should write a post on the similiarities between dog training and child rearing. Everything from reward systems to treats to clickers to discipline to time outs... they are more similar than you might realize.)