The Question Of Obedience
I just returned from my parents’ place. With ‘the star’ being in such a dangerous phase when anything can happen while you bat your eyelids; it was difficult. Our home is more or less child-proofed. But wherever we visit, whether a resort or family, things are lying all around, so I have to be on my toes all the time.
So while I would help out mom in the kitchen, the little one would pull out card from TV set-top box or bang the glass in the windows or climb up the chair or dig out the concealed wiring, and so on and so forth. I would keep listening to dad saying ‘No this. No that. Don’t pull out the card. Don’t mess up the newspaper.’ And it would make me smile, while still being in the next room. His experience of handling a toddler is a bit rusted. My son is the first kid he is handling after me.
This brings me to a question which keeps popping in my mind all the time:
Should children ‘obey’ their parents or elders?
The word ‘obey’ itself sounds so derogatory and disrespectful. Why do we seek obedience in the first place? The biggest reason is convenience. When you have kids who follow your orders, you are saved of all the arguments, questions, counter-questions, explanations, and physical inconveniences. I say, you obey and life will be so smooth. But do we want to raise such children who just follow orders because ‘I said so’ or because ‘we know better’?
The worse kind is seeking obedience through intimidation or hitting. When you instill fear in the little ones, you kill their desire to explore and the fire to discover. Kids are naturally curious and that’s how they learn.
At the moment, my child is very young but even now I want to do my best not to come into his way of discovering life. I never said I was perfect. Of course, I tell him not to do a lot of things but most of the time; I try to explain why his actions can be dangerous for him. Many times I even let him do a few things which are risky, while watching over him, for example, sliding the glass window open and shut or hanging by the chair precariously.
Sometimes he slips. Sometimes he is hurt a little. But that is the only way kids learn. We cannot teach them theory all the time. They need to ‘do’ to ‘make sense’ of the world around. Having said that, I am not recommending that we let our children get hurt in order to learn, rather what I am saying is not to stop them all the time because every single thing may end up hurting them.
Sometimes when he just goes about his business, doing his own thing, irrespective of what his grand-dad says; deep inside I feel proud. The other day he started pulling out all our shoes one by one. My dad kept telling him not to do it because they were dirty. But I said ‘what’s the harm?’He spent almost half an hour organising and re-organising all the shoes. Of course, I was watching and of course, after he was done, I washed his hands and legs properly; but I loved every moment of it.
I would rather have a child who has a mind of his own and a good judgement, over someone who just follows my orders. It is obvious our children need these life skills.
Reema Sahay is a Stay-At-Home-Mom, Freelance Writer, Voracious Reader, Passionate Blogger, Social Media Enthusiast, Internet Junkie and Ex-Marketing Communication Professional. She spends her days running after her very curious toddler, ‘the star’, and catching up on books when he naps. She writes about charms and challenges of life at Pen Paper and shares her passion for books at Recommend Books. She sometimes feels that her 5.5 years stint in Marketing Communication was in another life.