Saturday, February 6, 2016

Why My Children Don't *Have* to Obey Me

One of these kids is not mine. 
In my younger parenting days, I believed; you told your child what to do and they did it. I soon realized children don't always DO what you tell them to do, therefore it was my job, as a responsible parent to MAKE them do what I wanted them to do.

This could be accomplished in various ways. I'm sure many of us have grown up experiencing the various ways our parents would attempt to enforce their will upon ours, even when it truly was for our own good.

These days, I am a very different parent then I was when I started out 23 years ago.

My parenting language used to go something like this: "Take out the trash." Which worked great if the particular child this was directed at was feeling compliant at the moment. If not, well, that required more challenging navigation. My language began to vary: "I want you to take out the trash." Which was at least more honest, to "I need you to take out the trash." It wasn't really a need, not like I couldn't do it myself-no one was going to die if the trash wasn't taken out.

The thing is, over the last few years specifically, I feel my parenting style and expectations have changed dramatically and it was inspired by the challenges and struggles I've had within my marriage. Learning what healthy boundaries look like (*self* control not *others* control) and implementing them have had the greatest impact on my parenting and expectations of my kids.

God doesn't force us to choose Him as our Lord and Savior. He doesn't force us to receive His gift of grace. We are completely free to reject Him. Therefore, He also never forces us to obey Him. We have the freedom to choose. There are positive and negative consequences for every choice we make in our lives.

I have found the same goes for the parent-child relationship and obedience. These days my language looks more like this (when I'm on my game anyway-come on, I'm not perfect!): "I'd appreciate it if you would take out the trash." It either gets done or it doesn't. The problem parents have, is when our will is not done. How to handle that?

I offer positive and negative consequences, just like real life! I reason with my kids and speak to them as reasonable human beings, capable of considering the 'evidence' and making a well informed decision. IF they follow instructions, they enjoy privileges. If not, they lose privileges. Tasks are required to be fulfilled to the best of their ability. I remind them these are life skills...just like I can not go to work and do a shoddy, half @$$ job and expect to get paid my full, agreed upon wages, neither can they! I can't disrespect my boss and expect to continue working there.

Here's the thing--> I CAN choose to still do shoddy work and disrespect my boss, anyone can choose to behave in any way, form, or fashion they want...because we do not control anyone! However, as stated above, there are consequences to negative choices, just as there are for positive ones. I agreed to a certain amount of pay for a certain amount and level of work--not done equals not paid! Simple.

My children CAN choose to NOT do what I want them to do. I often remind them {and myself} if I have used language to the contrary: "You have to take out the trash-wait, let me rephrase that, you don't have to take out the trash but I'd appreciate it if you took out the trash. The choice is yours. There will be consequences for either choice you make." Of course they are aware of the consequences.

The real challenge is my response when I am not getting what I want, even as a parent. How I respond when my children are not doing what I want them to do, is crucial. The bottom line is: CONTROL! I DO NOT *control* my children or any other human on the planet except myself--and sometimes I fail at that! I think this will have a great impact on their view of God and relationship with him, first as a father and later as a friend, lover, mentor, etc. I don't believe God ever attempts to *control* us.

The same way God did not create us as automatons, incapable of individualized thoughts-because that is not what He wanted-I want my children to do right because they believe and know it's right, to obey because they want to, not out of fear or due to force. Even use of force requires an act of submission at some point. I don't want my children's submission to be based on a fear. I don't want my children to grow up thinking they can or have the right to attempt to control anyone either.

Life has no guarantees. Neither does parenting. It's a long process and maybe there's a learning curve for some of you...and for the rest of us, we're winging it. With fear and trembling...haha.

Happy Parenting! 

1 comment:

  1. Hey KT,

    I've nominated your blog for a Liebster award ❤ here's all the info... https://gemmatutu.wordpress.com/2016/02/17/liebster-award-yay/

    Love,Gem x

    ReplyDelete

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