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Winking at Disobedience, Winding Toward Destruction

Winking at Disobedience, Winding Toward Destruction

Training your children to obey will give them a moral compass and the discernment and character to advance the type of government that will make our nation prosper.

A little girl sporting a blue tutu came into view the other day as I walked by a school parking lot. But it wasn’t the tutu that caught my attention—it was her mother’s various commands and entreaties that she was happily ignoring.

“It’s time to go, honey!” No movement. “We need to go home now,” came the repeated request, but little tutu lady kept playing behind a dwindling snow pile. “One … two,” the increasingly frustrated mother counted.

Leaving the pair behind to sort out their homeward bound issues, I soon came upon another child playing while her parents looked on. Repeating the “time to go!” command numerous times to no avail, her mother finally told her that she had one more minute to play, but within seconds, she also told the little girl that “the minute is up,” completely reneging on the—apparently dishonest—promise just made.

I get it. In fact, anyone who has ever worked with little ones gets it. Children have minds of their own and don’t come by obedience naturally. Furthermore, no adult enjoys the shame and difficulty of dealing with a public tantrum. The easy thing to do is to just wink at disobedience, cajoling and coddling children instead. What many of us forget, however, is that such an approach to childhood disobedience not only affects the child and the adult working with that child, it also affects society at large in many negative ways, a fact we are seeing play out today.

The reason it negatively affects society is that a child’s failure to learn obedience to proper authorities builds distrust, confusion, and rejection of rightful authority as that child grows into an adult. Writer and speaker Elisabeth Elliot discussed this idea roughly 50 years ago in her book Let Me Be a Woman:

Failure to fulfill threats and promises trains a child to discount what is said. It trains him to lie. The parents are not to be trusted, therefore they need not be obeyed, therefore no authority is trustworthy or need be obeyed. Obedience is optional, depending on convenience or inclination or obvious reward.

But such parental action (or inaction) not only trains a child to lie, but also trains him to believe a lie. When a child cannot count on a parent or teacher to follow through, he lives in a world of uncertainty, which creates further chaos in his life and may even confuse him enough to follow and believe other authorities who tell him further lies and lead him down ruinous paths.

“A child has to know first of all and beyond any shadow of doubt that the word spoken will be the word carried out,” Elliot wrote. “Threats (‘If you don’t do this, you’ll be spanked’) or promises (‘If you pick up all your toys you’ll get a Popsicle’)—if not carried through are ruinous to a child’s morality.”

And it is that ruined morality that we are experiencing today. We see it in the riotous individuals who regularly engage in smash-and-grabs at stores or hijack yet another car. It shows up in angry students disrespecting those who present a different viewpoint than their own. It rears its head in those who pull down statues thinking they’re symbols of a racist past. And it shows up in those who fool themselves into thinking that a man can be a woman, or even those who can’t truthfully define what a woman is.

The fact is, when children don’t learn how to respond rightly to and interact with their parents—their first and foremost authorities—they won’t know how to respond to other authorities in the future. They thus risk being misled or abused by those authorities, or conversely, abusing authorities themselves.

Many today see our nation declining and wonder what they can personally do to help it change course. One answer? Train your children to obey. Follow through not only on your threats, but also on your promises. In doing so, you will be raising children with a moral compass, who will then have the discernment and character to advance the type of government that will make our nation prosper once again.

This article is republished with permission from The Epoch Times.

Image Credit: Pixabay


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  • Avatar
    April 26, 2022, 3:15 pm

    We cannot of course, but all the more reason to emulate our Heavenly Father with whom "there is no shifting shadow". We absolutely count on His promises (and threats).

  • Avatar
    Rick Besecke
    April 26, 2022, 6:50 pm

    I (almost completely) agree.
    Young children need to learn to obey authority for many reasons. A large part is their lack of focus and discernment, which easily leads to bad decision making as they seek immediate concerns (play, run, scream, whatever) rather than learn self-discipline (the social Left hates the word "discipline". They equate it with tyranny and violence, but self-discipline avoids external, third-party tyranny and the resulting violence). They learn that non-constructive behavior results in negative consequences, and constructive behavior yields positive consequences.
    It also provides for their safety, as (most) adults recognize risks that children simply can’t. A toddler will run for the sake of running, unaware of dangers they are headed into.
    Further, it helps socialize them. They learn that some behavior is acceptable in public, and some isn’t. Lacking early parental guidance to develop self-discipline, they are much more likely to engage in unacceptable behavior later in life.
    The other side is the need for judgement to develop over time. As children mature, their ability to discriminate between legitimate authority and illegitimate authority must be fostered. That certainly can’t start in single-digit ages, but has to be developed at whatever point is appropriate for the individual child. Blind adherence to the seemingly-beneficial authority that says "follow your heart" and "do what FEELS good" will be attractive to a child. Similarly, anyone who provides a sense of security could be seen as legitimate, but must be viewed with skepticism and investigated.

    The modern practice of not providing consequences because the child will feel bad will significantly contribute to the child’s, and society’s, poor long-term health.


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