Sure there aren't any kids that listen all the time, but I would go so far to say my kids aren't obedient. There are two big reasons why I'm more than okay with kids not being obedient. Find out why by clicking here. Positive parenting, gentle parenting, empathetic parenting, authoritarian versus authoritative parenting, moral reasoning critical thinking. Parenting toddlers and preschoolers.

My Kids Aren’t Obedient and That’s Okay

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I don’t know of a parent who could say that their children listen well all the time. But there definitely are kids out there who listen more than mine. My kids understand my husband and I run the household and make the rules. And, they certainly understand there are non-negotiables in our family. They are to use their words, even if it takes an absurd amount of reminding. They understand our family’s routines and our expectations. For instance, they need to put their dirty clothes in the laundry hamper and make their beds. Additionally, they have to ask to ride their bikes or go over to a neighbourhood friend’s house. We expect them to be truthful, even if it isn’t easy to come clean. That sort of stuff. Despite the fact that they do adhere to these expectations overall, I can confidently say that my kids aren’t obedient. And, to be completely honest, I’m okay with that. It’s definitely not the easiest way to parent, but it is crucial to how I want to raise my kids.

 

Case in point was this Friday. My husband had left for a business trip for the next five days and I had a prenatal appointment.

In the car on the way to the obstetrician’s office, I informed my two little ones of the importance of the appointment. I did my best to be clear, “The nurse has to examen me and the baby, so I need you two to be really good. I need gentle touches and good listening from you both.”

We entered into the office. And in no time, they noticed the waiting room has two sides. Half of the room is set up for patients going in for ultrasounds. The other half is the queue for the OB-GYN. Both have flat screen TVs. Both are always streaming the same Netflix show. Exerting his strong-will, my three-year-old son chose the overcrowded ultrasound side. I acquiesced, knowing he couldn’t go too far.

 

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Immediately, I noticed the whispers.

On top of it, I noticed an elderly woman point at my son and then me. Then, she said something to the person beside her. She shot me a look of clear disapprovalI’ve got this, I thought. Don’t you worry, lady.

In about ten minutes’ time, my son decided to join us on the correct side of the waiting room. No sooner were my wild ones together than they started whispering my name behind my back, pretending the nurse had called me into the examination room. Nice try.

Once in the room, I was asked to remove my Hunter boots to be weighed. My not-so-compliant children decided this was prime time to play their own rendition of musical boots. My daughter’s ended up on her hands, my son’s on his, and mine on my daughter’s feet. Actually, they went all the way up her legs, but you get the idea.

After requesting everyone wear their own boots on their own feet, I found myself with two bouncing beings beside me on the examination table. I was inundated with, “What’s this? Can I touch that? What’s this for? Why? How do you know there’s blood in your body? What’s blood pressure?”

The nurse looked at me with appreciation, “You’ve got your hands full.”

I left feeling like every inch of me had gone into all of the dynamism that unfolded over the half hour. My kids did not stay still at all.

My kids aren't obedient. Here's why I know that's okay. #positiveparenting #parenting Click To Tweet

 

Sure there aren't any kids that listen all the time, but I would go so far to say my kids aren't obedient. There are two big reasons why I'm more than okay with kids not being obedient. Find out why by clicking here. Positive parenting, gentle parenting, empathetic parenting, authoritarian versus authoritative parenting, moral reasoning critical thinking. Parenting toddlers and preschoolers.

 

This whole endeavour had me thinking about my parenting and the fact that my kids aren’t obedient.

As mentioned before, my kids don’t sit still. They bounce, question, voice their opinions and explore. If the era of “kids should be seen and not heard” witnessed my parenting and my kids’ behaviour, they would be aghast. Here’s why I consider all of this more than okay.

Obedience is defined as “complying or willing to comply with orders or requests; submissive to another’s will.”

Aside from the overall health and safety of my children, my two biggest goals as a parent are that I raise kids that have high moral reasoning and can think for themselves. I cannot raise my children with these values by punishing them when they don’t conform. Moreover, “training” my kids to act a certain way or demanding compliance even without punishment won’t work.

Obedient children grow into obedient adults. They’re less likely to stand up for themselves, more likely to be taken advantage of. They’re also capable of simply following orders without question, without taking responsibility for their actions.Dr. Laura Markham

Kids from authoritarian [strict, punitive] families may be relatively well-behaved. But they also tend to be less resourceful, have poorer social skills, and lower self-esteem. Compared with kids from authoritative households, kids exposed to authoritarian discipline may also achieve less at school. – Dr Gwen Dewar

As a result, I want my children to have internalised moral reasoning. Demanding adherence to rules does not produce adults with high moral reasoning. In fact, it does the opposite. In a very extreme example, one researcher found that members of the Third Reich in Nazi Germany were from families that put a high emphasis on obedience.

So, instead of running an authoritarian household, I understand that disciplining my children is a process. And, I continue to encourage their creativity. I answer their neverending questions. When they question my authority on something, I get down to their level, acknowledge their concern, and explain as simply as possible why a given expectation exists. If they fail to comply, I work to scaffold their behaviour understanding that self-regulation and good behaviour is difficult for little kids.

Though it doesn’t yield immediately well-behaved, obedient kids, I am confident that my very animated children are on the right track.



Sure there aren't any kids that listen all the time, but I would go so far to say my kids aren't obedient. There are two big reasons why I'm more than okay with kids not being obedient. Find out why by clicking here. Positive parenting, gentle parenting, empathetic parenting, authoritarian versus authoritative parenting, moral reasoning critical thinking. Parenting toddlers and preschoolers.
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13 thoughts on “My Kids Aren’t Obedient and That’s Okay

  1. I expect my children to act like children but I also expect them to obey myself, my husband, and those who are in authority over them, ie grandparents, and certain aunts and uncles in some situations. Because I expect my children to obey does NOT mean that I think they should be mats to be trampled upon or walked over. They know that they may refuse to do what is asked, demanded sometimes, but they also have to be willing to face the consequences for their decisions. They have also been taught, and we are teaching them still, when we expect them to refuse ie if someone asks them to take off their clothes, to do something that they know is wrong, to hide something from parents etc.
    If I am reading this article correctly I think we are saying the same thing but instead of saying that I’m fine with children not obeying I would rather say I am fine with children being children- busy, curious, ready to make their minds known, that they know who they are to honor, respect, and obey as elders or as those in authority, and that they know they do not have to live up to the expectations or ideas of society.

    1. I understand your point Rebekah and we are largely saying the same thing. The definition of obedience includes the line, “to submit to another’s will.” Our kids understand we are the authority. They have to ask permission to go outside, have a treat, watch a show, etc. They understand that we discipline them when they’re made a bad choice. They have to speak to us respectfully as we do them. But, we don’t demand respect. We don’t parent with a heavy hand or in an authoritarian way. I really appreciate you reading and for your comment <3

  2. In my line of work the word “compliance” is often used. Whenever I can I will rewrite the goal to use the word responsive rather than compliant. I don’t want to raise or educate compliant, obedient children. I want responsive, respectful children. You are spot on with this article.

    1. Love your perspective SO much, Shelah. In our school system too, I know they talk about compliance versus obedience. And how compliance can be measured as somewhat or full blown. Thanks so much for reading.

  3. I feel like this is the difference between authoritative and authoritarian parenting and permissive… you have to meet your kids in the middle! You can’t expect them to be afraid of you in order to obey, and people can’t expect kids to be perfect little robots all of the time. That’s just silly. As long as they’re respectful, that is a win for me.

  4. I don’t see obedience as a big bad wolf. I do want obedient children, but in a sense where they comply with a request because they know I am the parent and I am in charge of their well-being. With that being said, I parent in a way that my son is responsible for his actions and is aware of consequences. Responsibly is an important part of growing up. I like very much what Rebekah said, ultimately we all just want the best for our children either way.

    1. And that’s where the definition of obedience comes into play. Obedience means submitting. One of the differentiating factors between authoritarian and authoritative parents is requiring obedience versus instilling values.

    2. I agree with you. Obedience is very important especially for children. They need their parents guidance. We should teach our children to obey and here is the critical thinking part they should understand why we require their obedience. Also obedience to parents teaches children to respect their parents authority and their role. Children also learn self-control. They also learn to trust their parents. We do not expect kids to obey blindly but because they KNOW we have the best interests for them. When children know this and they trust you, they willingly and gladly obey. Obviously kids will be kids and sometimes there are times when they don’t. I talk to my kids about obedience and to think about good obedience vs bad obedience. We obey good and we don’t obey bad.

      1. Millie thanks for weighing in on your opinion on obedience. I feel like you missed the entire point of the article, but I appreciate your thoughts nonetheless.

  5. I call it being agreeable and respectable. I like my son’s independence and sass but he needs to know that he has to assert himself in a respectable way that leaves everyone in an agreeable state and not in a state of tantrums. Easier said than done sometimes!

    1. That’s exactly it. It is a balance to raise respectable kids who understand the value of respect and why standards and roles exist. Thanks so much for reading.

  6. I love this. From the mother of a strong willed 3 year old, thank you. One of my favorite (and yet most frustrating) things she does is when she is told to stop doing something because of xyz she will then ask what the consequence is if she continues. I tell her and then she stops to consider if it is worth it. Sure my life would be easier if she just said, “okay mommy” and stopped but what would she learn? I love that she takes the time to consider the consequences of her actions. This is such an important thing for children to learn so they can make smart decisions in the future.

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