disobedience part 2


Disobedience: failure or refusal to obey

So, as mentioned in the previous post, I have some issues with people branding behaviour they don’t understand or agree with as ‘disobedience’.  But, to be honest, I have issues with the whole notion of disobedience.  As rational creatures with the gift of logic at our disposal, the concept of ‘obeying’ is archaic at best and obsolete at worst.  People need to be given the tools to make their own decisions, and this includes children.

I personally was brought up to ‘obey’.  Obey my parents, obey teachers, obey all adults, just obey.  If I was told, as a child, to do something and given no reason, I was left with the same desire to do it compounded by a confusing threatening command, or a painful slap if I was extra persistent.  Desire to do something dangerous + fear of punishment = ignorant children doing stupid things when backs are turned.  Nobody explained anything in those days; there was a kind kudos for parents and teachers that they just got obeyed for the sake of mindless authority.

Now, I’m aware my venture into parenting may ultimately be a complete disaster but I can comment on where we are now.  A 16 month old with limited language and comprehension skills who wants to climb on, poke at and pretty much dismantle everything in sight.  Natural evolutionary curiosity doesn’t phase me, but it seriously tires me.   I’m discovering vast, untapped wells of patience.  When my cheeky little imp wriggles out of her seatbelt in the pushchair, I can do several things.  I can shout commands to be obeyed.  I did try this, it had no effect.  Slapping is thankfully no longer an option and, as I well recall from my own childhood, it doesn’t work and has undesirable side effects.  Distraction is usually the best option, but there’s not much scope for it in this situation.  What works, seriously, unbelievably, is asking her to please put her arms back in the seatbelt because it’s dangerous and she’ll bang her head.  With a thank you.

I’m not counting on this approach working in every situation but I’m planning on ensuring there are no commands to be obeyed but requests with rational and logical reasoning.  I fully expect my daughter to have her own opinions and reasons for doing things, but we’ll discuss them when they arise.  I won’t expect, or even want, any form of blind obedience.  You can wheel that back to the Middle Ages where it belongs.