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Monday, January 14, 2013

blind vs. informed obedience


We're parents. We feel strongly about being listened to. And our culture speaks strongly about obedience as well. Often, a blind obedience is inferred. 

But I question that. As an adult, I find it hard to obey the law of order and do the dishes when I should. It's hard to do the thing we ought to be doing at all times, or even most of the time. Thankfully, I know how important the feeling of a clean home is, and it helps me move along ( usually;).

So take a child who is primarily governed by his own desire for pleasure. He needs to know why something is off limits, better put off, better in small doses, etc. Understanding  will certainly not make him choose the good action automatically, but it sure does help.

Take my three year old for example. This morning he had a pencil sharpener in his hand and one of us said,"don't put your finger in there because it is sharp." I added,"it is a knife." And he promptly said "no, it's not," because to him it didn't look like an ordinary knife. He'd never looked closely. So we looked at the blades and felt how hard a pencil is. I explained it had to be pretty sharp to cut that. Then we felt his finger and how soft it was. The conclusion was obvious to him.

I give this example because we are increasingly in a world where children are presented with many interesting diversions. If obedience to produce good behavior is all we are after, than blind obedience will be our route. But if we want to form intelligent brings who know why they are doing something, even if at present they don't like it (remember, they are governed by their whims as children. An interesting diversion: Am I? If so, does that make me the adult I say I am?:), they will know why they don't play with fire and grasp the consequences of their freedom.

Have a marvelous day, friends!

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