For some reason we all want happy, obedient, and respectful children. Maybe because we feel it reflects directly on us as parents and the job we are doing in raising our kids to be good members of society. We worry what people will think and the judgements they might be making…but the fact is that it’s not really about us.
Here’s why you should teach toddlers obedience, and a few important phrases that impart to our kids deeper truths they need to know to truly succeed in life.
Maybe it sounds like I’m raising little robots who have no say in life, but my mom made us kids say this to her growing up, and I have nothing but the utmost love and respect for my mom. I might be a bit old-fashioned, but I believe kids benefit from learning to respect authority, and if I lived in the South I would make them say, “Yes ma’am!”
It’s by far the phrase I use the most. I started when the girls could barely talk and still use it multiple times a day (though not as much as before). Basically, when I ask the girls to do something and they look like they’re spacing out or about to run the other way, I say, “Yes mommy” and have them repeat after me. This helps them actually do what I’ve asked, since they’ve already agreed vocally. Nowadays they will usually say it automatically after I give them a command and it really helps them to think, “I told mommy I would, so now I should go do it”.
The main reason I believe this phrase is so important though, is because as a Christian, God asks me to say, “Yes Lord” even when what He’s asking me to do is something I don’t want to have to do. He doesn’t mind if I wonder why He gave me a particular command, and He might even chose to give me the answer, but first and foremost I need to obey. Saying the words somehow aligns my feet to my heart and as I do what He’s asked of me, there’s peace in knowing I am in His Will, even if I don’t always understand it.
My child might question why I’m telling them to do something, and sometimes I’ll tell them, and sometimes I won’t. The point is that they need to trust me, and they need to listen. I too am under a higher authority, and my job is simply to trust and obey. To trust that God has my best interests at heart, because He created me, and loves me more than I can ever imagine. In the same way, I want my children to trust me, that I love them more than they know, and that I have their best interests at heart.
“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way,
to be happy in Jesus,
than to trust and obey.”
“You can obey, or you can get the consequences and then obey.”
Sometimes my little angels don’t always want to do what I’ve asked (shocking, I know), and so I tell them this lovely phrase. It usually goes like this, “You can obey mommy or you can get the consequences and then obey. The consequence of not putting on your shoes when I ask you to is______.”
The hardest part about this one is that you actually have to follow through on your consequences or your kids figure out pretty quick that you’re just threatening and won’t actually make them do it. I don’t particularly like disciplining my kids..it takes time and effort and usually we’re trying to get out the door and are running late, or there’s something pressing I need to do. But that’s the challenge of parenting. Setting boundaries and consequences when boundaries are crossed, and then making sure you stick to your guns.
As a Christian there are consequences when I don’t obey God’s loving commands. I might not notice them right away, but stepping out of His Will for my life is saying that I know better than Him, and that causes negative affects in my life and heart. The Bible says that when I disobey, God lovingly disciplines me like a Father would his child, for my own good (Hebrews 12:6).
Teaching this principle of consequences is important for kids, they need to know that in the same way I discipline them out of love, God disciplines His children out of His great love for them.
“You don’t have to like it, you just have to listen.”
Lately my girls have found a new response when I ask them to do something (other than,”No!” if that’s even a phrase..).
“I don’t like it!”
I realize this is a normal stage of development for them as they discover themselves and their abilities to make choices and to like or dislike, certain things. That’s all fine and good and I even encourage it.
However, it made me think of what my proper response should be when this happens after I’ve given them a command. I looked again at my relationship with my Heavenly Father for the answer. What God asks of me is to obey what He commands. In my sinful, human nature, I might not like what He asks me to do. But He doesn’t ask me to like it, He asks me to first and foremost listen, and then my heart will follow as I walk in His Will.
Sometimes following God’s commands is hard…sometimes it’s uncomfortable for me..sometimes I just don’t like it and I really don’t want to obey. But there is blessing in obedience and it is the path of life, so I chose to obey anyway, and I’m always glad I did.
So I acknowledge my child’s feeling that they don’t like what I’m asking, and I tell them that they don’t have to like it, they just have to listen.
The reason I believe teaching obedience is so important is because it’s what God asks of us. It doesn’t come naturally, in fact, our human nature usually wants to do the opposite . However, there is a higher authority that we need to answer to, and so obedience is key.
Teaching my kids to obey the authority God has put over them (me and hubby!), is just training for them to learn how to obey God’s authority once they are on their own in the world. And in fact, since God commands children to obey their parents, they are already obeying God as well, when they obey mom and dad.
So it’s more than just wanting them to be good members of society (though that’s a great side effect), it’s about preparing them for a lifetime of blessing as they walk with God on the path of Life. This is my greatest goal and wish as a parent, that my children would know, love, and obey God.
~Do you have any helpful phrases that you use to encourage or teach your children about the importance of obedience? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!