I’m pleased to bring a guest post from a friend. She has been on a journey through parenting too and I enjoy her thoughts on things.This is a two-part series.
One of my favorite thoughts from Ellen White is from “Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing”. She talks about how every commandment has the implicit promise that God will help us fulfill them. And that’s what I bring to the concept of obedience. Churchianity has corrupted the word to mean that children need to obey the first time, all the time and with a happy heart. I’ve yet to find those concepts in the Bible as necessary for salvation.
But knowing that obedience is something God helps me do, I see how obedience is something I help my children do. Me helping them obey does NOT equal disobedience. That means that I ask them to do what I can help them do. I don’t sit on the couch and expect the 3 yo to obey me 100% of the time. I have to get off my butt and help her obey. It’s a pain, but it’s a great life skill.
I don’t want my children to obey authority merely because they are authority. That is setting them up for abuse–spiritual, mental, emotional, physical. My girls are learning the tone of voice Mama uses when something needs to be done RIGHT NOW. But again, I’m still there to help them comply. But later on, they are welcome to question “Why?”. It’s been a big paradigm shift for me, but I love not worrying about power struggle.
One of the great things I’ve learned through studying normal child development in the light of grace-based discipline is that there are certain stages where children will comply more than others. And it’s not my job to sort out my child’s motivations. But it is my job to disciple my children.
A rabbi friend put it this way, “If you study the development of the mind at all you know that children don’t develop logic until ten (pre-logic begins at age eight) and reason doesn’t even come until fourteen, so the idea that a toddler or very young child is willfully disobeying doesn’t fit–they lack the mental capacity to do that. It’s also important to note that in both Greek and Hebrew the concept of “obey” is based on the assumption that the one being obeyed has earned the trust of the one obeying–it’s a voluntary variation of normal response. In other words, disobedience is the normal human response when there is no trust. When there is trust, relationship, and discipleship– then there is obedience. You can demand compliance, but not obedience. Obedience must be earned. When a parent is demanding obedience from a young child and considering any lack of obedience to be willful they simply lack understanding of how God made children.”
God helps me obey–not shaming or condemning or threatening me into obedience. And with His help, I’m learning to do that with my kids too.