October 28, 2015

Parents, Require Your Children to Obey

A few weeks ago, someone on facebook posted a photo of a child’s graded paper from school. The child’s teacher had written on the paper that she had told the child several times not to write in cursive. A friend of the child’s mom posted it. She included that the child wanted to learn cursive and that the child’s mother who was a veteran taught the child to write in cursive.

a mother's love parent

I watched as thousands of people shared the story. Many were in an uproar about it. Some were appalled by the teacher’s actions. Some wanted the teacher chastened for such an act. I saw comments about reporting the teacher to the board of education. Most were outraged that a teacher would make such a comment. I also saw many comments that declared “At least you could read it.” “The teacher should be glad the child could write in cursive.” I could go on. You get the idea.

I mulled it over for days. It really bothered me. I tried not to think about it, but I kept seeing it over and over again. Here are some points I made to a friend that posted the picture:

1. The child’s teacher asked her several times not to write in cursive. The child was being disobedient.

2. People are justifying the child’s disobedience with comments like, “it was only …”. “At least you could read it.” Justifying disobedience is a dangerous line to cross. Doing this gives children mixed messages. Sometimes you mean what you say and sometimes you don’t. Does a child get to pick and choose which instructions are up for negotiation?

3. The person who posted the picture included that the child’s mom was a veteran. What does that have to do with anything? My husband is a veteran. My grandfather was a veteran and wounded in action. Does that absolve a person from following instructions? No doubt the veteran comment was a way to manipulate others and elicit compassion and sympathy to join their side.

4. Why are adults bullies? This problem should have been resolved with the child’s teacher. A very short parent conference or phone call could have handled this. Handling it civilly obviously was not their intent. It was to gather support and attention.

5. These adults are teaching their child that they do not have to listen to adults. If something goes wrong in their life, their parents will be there to bail them out. Even the best of children will manipulate and lie to get their parent on their side. This family opened a wide gate to that happening.

I just checked the photo. It has been shared over 460,000. I’ll be honest. This kind of behavior grieves my heart.

If I have a problem with my child’s teacher, I discuss it with the teacher. Disagreeing or disrespecting an adult in front of a child causes some serious mixed signals. I may not always agree with my child’s teacher, but I think it’s important to maintain a united front.

As James Lehman says,

It’s your job to get along with your teacher, not your teacher’s job to get along with you.

Make no mistake: defending your child when he has behaved inappropriately will not help him develop appropriate skills and to become right as a person.

Truthfully, I think I have pretty great kids. I don’t say that with a boastful heart. They’re not perfect. We have normal issues. I’m incredibly thankful for my children. They didn’t become who they are on their own. My husband and I require obedience. We also pray and rely on guidance and wisdom from God.

Some parents say, “I don’t know what to do! I’m at my wits end. I can’t control them.” Are you not the one that pays the cable bill? The phone bill? Do you pay for a cell phone? Are you the one that buys special snacks and treats? Do they live in your house? Then yes, you are the parent. Control is not the goal. We’re supposed to be raising children to be successful adults. Hopefully we’re not trying to raise children that can’t make it on their own and need their mom and dad to intervene in every conflict. But then again, maybe we are.

Tonight I read a parenting article from John Piper. He says that parents should require obedience from their children. Even if you do not consider yourself a believer, it is a great article.

Sigh.

Parenting is not for wimps. There is no easy button. Some days you think you’ll have a whiny child forever. Then suddenly, you make a breakthrough and things get better.

Once again, I’ll remind us all that we are raising our children to be successful adults. I don’t want my child to go off to college unable to function and cope with people and relationships. I don’t want them calling me to bail them out. I don’t want them getting dropped from their classes because they are disrespectful and challenge a professor’s authority.

I can say with confidence that respect, cooperation, responsiblity, and conflict resolution are lifelong skills that your child will need. Teach them to obey. Please don’t set them up for failure.

image: sxc by Chrissy Pauley


Karen