Each time I scroll through Pinterest, the word “obedience” jumps at me, time and time again. Raise obedient children, they say, this is how you can do it, they promise. And I open these articles, and all I see is fear, guilt, and shame.
Throughout the years, I’ve battled with the detrimental word “obedience,” with the disastrous results it brings upon the souls of children, and the devastating realizations these children grow up with.
Obedience is blind; it has been robbing humanity from the freedom of choice, from autonomy, and from authentic self-expression since the early days of patriarchy. Why is it that this is what we want for our children?
Obedient Children Are Easy
I am not saying that to raise an obedient child is easy, it is everything but easy, because the human soul is strong and it is designed to resist control… But for those who do make it, the answer is simple.
Because obedient children are easy. They are like soldiers. You say a word, and they obey. They don’t get into your frame unless you’ve asked them to. You don’t hear their voice unless you’ve invited them to the conversation. You don’t see them unless you’ve explicitly expressed the desire to see them. It’s easy, and I get that. I really do. We all need something to be just a little “easy” in our lives; but should children be easy?
Obedient Adults Are…?
Let me ask you this – let’s think about adults who we appreciate, friends, coworkers, maybe bosses, or the admirable CEOs of the biggest companies in the world. Do we appreciate them because they are obedient and compliant, or is it because of the fierce, positive energy they bring into this word, fearlessly following their hearts and minds until their dreams have come true? Is it because they are easy to be around, or because of their courage, perseverance, dedication, determination, endurance, stamina, and spunk?
Let me tell you one thing – obedience doesn’t allow for any of the above.
Where Does Obedience Come From?
Obedience is a learned quality as, believe it or not, no one is born obedient. The human soul is all mighty, it is born all mighty, and, just like a plant, it only grows as much as it is allowed to. Obedience is the result of fear; fear of consequences, fear of the feelings these consequences bring, fear of the shame, and the guilt that follow these consequences.
Obedience is not a choice, it is always forced upon us.
The Reasons For Which Obedience Should Never Be an Educational Goal
When parents demand their children’s obedience, they have nothing but this very moment in front of them, they need the kids to do something, and they need it now. We all have these moments, it’s not a problem (and it can’t be a problem, really, because it’s life), but this is not what I am talking about. I am talking about parents for whom the pursuit of obedience is the primary strategy to parenting, for whom an obedient child is the ultimate parenting goal.
Lessons learned in early stages of life are the lessons most hard to unlearn, and so, children who were “trained” to obedience, will become obedient adults.
Characteristics of Obedient Human Beings
- Obedient human beings will forever neglect their own needs believing the needs of others are more important
- Obedient human beings will never act upon their individual needs as they’ve been brainwashed to think that acting upon their needs will only cause them pain.
- Obedient human beings usually don’t admit to having their own needs
- Obedient human beings will forever shut down their inner voices
- Obedient human beings will do everything they can to please others, as they believe they can only be loved when the needs of others are met by them
- Obedient human beings will forever step away from their own dreams and desires with the slightest societal negation
- Obedient human beings believe that connection is formed through obedience and thus:
- Obedient human beings feel themselves to be weaker, less worthy than anyone else
- Obedient human beings might turn to rebellion
Today’s Obedience – Tomorrow’s Rebellion
I know that this subtitle won’t sound too great for most readers, but for me – this is hope. Those children, who were taught obedience from day one and those who manage to stand up and finally rebel – are those whose dreams have a chance of coming true. This makes me, personally, happy.
Rebellion, Too, Comes With a Price. The Exact Same Price.
Because rebellion that stems from obedience is still ruled by obedience, it is not yet a free choice. Rebellion is rebellion at all cost, and those people who choose to rebel don’t pause to consider their options, resistance is the only goal they see.
Once this button was pushed – nothing else matters. Every yes is a no, every no is a yes, and the price they pay for this is the same price they pay for obedience – it just looks entirely different.
There is no freedom in rebellion, even when it looks like the epitome of freedom.
Forget Obedience, Aim For Connection
All human beings want to be good to and for the ones they love. Our children need to cooperate with us to the same extent we need them to cooperate with us – this is true for all people. The question is how easy are we making it for them actually to cooperate with us?; are we making sure our words and actions breed connection and acceptance or are we filling their hearts and minds with fear, guilt, and shame?
When we look at the NOW, at this very moment, it is easy to see what we want them to do. But when we look at the future, the “what” is less critical – the “why” takes over. “Why” do we want children to do what they are doing?
Is it because they are fearful, filled with guilt, and shame, or is it because they know exactly what they want, what needs to be done to get them there, and because they know that they are loved and appreciated for who they truly are?
If this sounds like a rant to you, it’s probably because that it is. Scrolling through Pinterest and the wide variety of leading parenting magazines is causing me immense pain. And I want to share this with you.
And I’d love for you to come to talk to me about it and reassure me that I’m not alone (even though I really do already know it) it in my parenting support group on Facebook, I would love to meet you 🙂