A mother asks…
I have decided to work on direct obedience. My son hems, haws, ignores me, whines, etc… I would like him to listen to what I ask him to do, and then do it. Well, I am having a hard time wondering if there is a time when this is an unreasonable expectation. For example, I ask him to do something but he’s right in the middle of working on something else. Do I allow him to ask if he can do it when he’s done, or do I say he has to drop what he’s doing and obey? If someone were asking me to do something I wouldn’t want to drop what I’m doing right in the middle! I believe that the expectation in life is that you don’t have to drop things to all the time. Or, this morning, I asked him to grab his school bag out of the stroller and he fell apart because his hands were cold from going on a walk and he didn’t want to take them out of his sleeves. Do I have compassion on his cold hands or do I force obedience in spite of his discomfort? I don’t want to be plain mean, but I also want to do what’s best for him.
It goes back to the principle: People don’t appreciate or understand grace until they experience and know the law, because as Romans 3:20 says, “…through the law we become conscious of sin.” People have no use for grace until they are conscious of how much they need it.
Both of these instances mentioned are perfect times to show mercy, but only after the child has become an obedient son, a “law-keeper.” For a time, this mother might have to become imbalanced on the side of teaching her son to keep the letter of the law. He takes mercy for granted, and probably has even begun to manipulate his mother’s kind heart to get his way. That is a dangerous place for him to be…learning to take advantage of people’s kind intentions to thwart authority.
Children know how to argue. You don’t need to encourage kids to use their reason by giving in to their good arguments. When you do, you already have missed teaching the lesson that needs to be learned. You want your child to be QUICK to obey, not quick to argue back. You need to motivate your child to obey regardless of what he thinks or feels about the situation. God does not ask us to understand why He asks certain things of us, He only asks for loving obedience. He expects us to obey regardless of our feelings about the circumstance. It is a strong and mature man who can submit to authority even when he doesn’t agree or feel like it. This is a parent’s goal. A submissive son, to you and to God.
Being obedient may make the child uncomfortable. But, his obedience is more important than stopping a fun task or cold hands. That is not a mean statement, but a kind one. Do you want your child to be a rebellious wimp when he grows up? Not able to take a little discomfort and flouting authority whenever he feels like it? Until he has learned that mommy says what she means, (ie…a broken law will be punished) he will never appreciate or follow the rules of life. Pain (cold hands) is not to be avoided and is not an excuse to not do the right thing. Pain will teach a boy to become a man. Let him feel some of it!
Teaching the meaning of the law takes persistence. A inconsistent parent sends the message that sometimes disobedience is okay, depending on the parent’s whim. Obedience then becomes the parent’s problem. Consistency will show the child that HE is the problem. A child disciplined every time (consistently), for as long as it takes (persistently) will begin to respect and listen to your words because he knows and fears the “law.” There is a place for mercy, but he will never “get” it until he learns to follow the law.