Your view of obedience controls how you give directions. Strange as it may seem, the way your garbage is taken out can reveal your functional understanding of obedience. The goal is to learn how to give holy, everyday directions that please God and bless your children.
Let me begin by asking you two questions:
Do you want your children to obey your directions and take out the garbage?
You might be thinking, “That’s a strange question; of course I want my children to obey me.” That leads me to the second question.
Assuming you want your children to obey you, do you act as if you expect them to take out the garbage?
Now you are sure I am asking stupid questions. “What do you mean, do I act like I want them to take it out? Of course I do!”
Okay, let’s examine some ways that parents typically ask for obedience. In this illustration, Joshua is eight years old. How many ways can Mom ask Josh to take out the garbage?
“Joshua, if you want to be helpful, you could take out the garbage sometime when you have some free time.” Or,
“Josh, take out the garbage right now!!”
“Joshua, I asked you yesterday and the day before and the day before that, would you please find time to take out the garbage!”
“Joshua, please think of things to do to help out, like maybe take out the garbage. Okay?”
“Mommy is sooo tired of taking out the garbage all the time. Josh, wouldn’t you like to help me?”
“Joshua, take out the garbage right now, or I will take away your TV privileges for three days!”
“When I was your age, I always had to take out the garbage every day, whether I wanted to or not. Now take out the garbage!”
“Joshua, this is it! I am not going to ask you again. Take out the garbage!”
“Joshua, if you do not take out the garbage this instant, you are going to get the biggest spanking of your life, and you will get it when your father gets home.”
None of these directives to Joshua fit the biblical concept of obedience. Yes, some of the instructions were direct, but many were not. Each reflects a parent who does not really expect to be obeyed. All of these attempts at securing obedience from Joshua fall into the category of manipulation and bargaining. You want the garbage taken out. Joshua does not want to take it out. You cajole, order, plead, bargain, in short, do anything you can to get Joshua to take the garbage out. After awhile you may even give up and take the garbage out yourself, just to end the unpleasantness and frustration.
God does not want your children to obey you simply because you are bigger than they are and can physically control them. Obedience is more than giving in to coaxing or threats. God wants your children to obey you because it pleases Him and blesses them. How can you tell the difference? Here is the request from a parent who expects Joshua to take out the garbage.
“Joshua, take the garbage out now, please.”
“Sure, Mom, no problem.”
Here, Joshua’s mom expects to be obeyed. She doesn’t ask Joshua a question, she gives him clear, pleasant direction. She doesn’t whine or plead or bargain or threaten. She speaks directly but pleasantly. Joshua knows exactly what she wants him to do and when. Joshua has been trained to understand that obeying Mom is doing exactly what he is told, right away, with a good attitude.
From Chapter Four of Everyday Talk. A full discussion of these points is contained in this chapter.
7 thoughts on “Parent, do you expect to be obeyed?”
Ok, I see the difference here and in an ideal world, the child would obey when asked pleasantly, but how are they trained to obey? What happens when you ask them pleasantly and they do not obey?
Kayla, this is why the post suggests that you look at the whole chapter that is referenced in the post. Books like Shepherding a Child’s Heart, instructing a Child’s Heart and Everyday Talk all address in detail the questions that you are asking. You ask an important question!
Yes exactly you have to have a child who has a willing heart no matter what you say. And as far as please take out the garbage now. That is the first time you tell them. If they refuse every directive then what? I really dislike childrens rebellion and never ever thought I would have to deal with it!
Tess these questions are answered fully in Tedd Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart. The book is available from our website or from places like Amazon.
Kayla, the best book on child-rearing is Shepherding A Child’s Heart. Read it and you won’t be asking “What if they don’t obey?” anymore. 🙂
I remember a long time ago meeting a woman in the park who was dragging her feet about going home. She told me that her son (about 5) had to clean his room when they got home and it was always a battle. I asked her, “Have you ever taught him HOW to clean his room?” She looked at me with a surprised look on her face. “You have to teach children how to clean their room?” she asked. Children don’t learn to obey or do things by the wave of a hand, a threat of a spanking or just figuring it out. I suggested that she sit in the room and guide her son. Ie, “first take everything off of the bed. (When done, give praise). Then go on— Make the bed, now put all of the stuff animals back on the bed. Now find all of the books and put them in a big pile.” You get the idea. For a younger child, one teaches them to do these things by helping them do it so they understand what/how to do something. In other words, you teach them step by step how to do something. As they get older, one has them to do a job in parts….do the bed, have them come tell you when they are done (and make sure they aren’t slothful about it….”I will be back in 5 minutes and the bed needs to be made and the stuffed animals on it.”. Have storage containers or something where everything belongs. They can’t pick up things unless there is some place to put the items. So as children need to be taught how to do things so they can obey, they also need loving direction and correction.
The same biblical principles apply, but since you are taking the medication, I would ask your doctor for specific help and so you can gauge the impact of the medication. You might ask your doctor what chemicals are out of balance. In any event get help from your church to implement the kind of things you will find taught in a book like Shepherding a Child’s Heart.