Yes, that is what I said. Disobedience doesn’t exist in our house.. and yes there is a child in our house. You don’t believe me. I know. I’ll explain.
By definition, obedience is as follows:
1. The act of obeying, or the state of being obedient; compliance with that which is required by authority; subjection to rightful restraint or control. Government must compel the obedience of individuals.
2. Words or actions denoting submission to authority; dutifulness.
3. A following; a body of adherents; as, the Roman Catholic obedience, or the whole body of persons who submit to the authority of the pope.
Do I hope my child will grant me what I ask of her?
Do I want her to behave in a way consistent with what I have (hopefully) shown her as considerate behavior?
Am I of the opinion that I should attempt to maintain harmony by exhibiting healthy boundaries and giving her the necessary tools, from the moment of birth, to enable her to interact in her environment with ease?
Do I expect obedience? No.
Do I expect compliance? When necessary for safety or sanity, only.
Will I routinely explain my reasons behind the expectations, boundaries, guidance, and requests? With every sentence I speak, with every expectation or request I communicate, I do indeed offer the “rest of the story” for her to ponder and become aware of.
Why do I do this? First, because it is what I would hope of another person causing the same constraints to come over me. Second, I believe my choice to provide her full, detailed explanations of her world gives her the opportunity and option to ascertain for herself what she will take in. Therefore, even in compliance, she exercises her free will. It is in this honoring of her autonomy, she will build her self esteem, increase her intelligence, and improve her emotional confidence and stability. If she does not choose compliance when necessary, she will, by default, still increase her wisdom, improve her ability to interact on an emotional plane, and will, in fact, build her confidence and self image… and if she refuses, she’ll learn she must substantiate that choice with reasons within her own mind that compel her opposition.
She also learns that her actions always have a result. If her choice results in a situation where she must build her patience, she gains. If her choice engages others, she will observe their responses and the result is she grows. If her choice results in the need for her to tend to an effort, she develops focus and stamina – and in all likelihood, enhances her imagination powers.
We have chosen to walk alongside our child, as a partner and guide when useful, and encouraging her to grow within the parameters of her own determining. We believe that a human choosing compassion, respect, consideration, and generosity has much value.
Retelling here, a story that illustrates the value of not causing blind obedience to be the driving force in your home. Let’s take a look at the massacre in My Lai, Vietnam.This horrifying display of blind submission resulted in the slaughter of an entire village in Vietnam; nearly 500 people were killed.
The troops sent into the village were expecting a battalion of Vietcong forces but were instead presented with a village of women, elderly men, and children. The company had been previously instructed to kill anyone they encountered and proceeded to do so, with a few lapses in their blind faith. The leader of the company, an inexperienced captain by the name Calley, was later tried for the murder of 107 unarmed civilians. He blamed his actions on the blind compliance that members of the United States forces are expected to give their superior officers. He described the concept as a ‘shoot first, complain later’ process. His actions, although explicitly illegal by the law of the United States service, seemed completely appropriate to him. He was merely obeying a senior officer, an action repeatedly drilled into the heads of American troops.
Our education system is not far off in requiring and thereby creating humans who do not think for themselves. Children are conditioned not to question the authorities, the routine, the expectations, or the assignments they are given. They are expected to blindly accept that ‘adults know best’. This typical shepherd leading the sheep routine results in a completely disinterested society and a youth that is inactive and dependent.
So, how is it that we have no disobedience in our house? Because there is no opportunity for it to occur: obedience is not an expectation. My daughter has the space to choose her path, and her parents hold the willingness to allow her the space to experience the results of those choices. It’s not about who’s boss and who is inferior in our home. It’s not a hierarchy here. It’s about mutual respect, love, and exploration of life. It’s growing in courage, confidence, and stability… It’s trusting the process.
As she grows, we will grow with her. Through communication and empathic awareness, we will all experience and develop, and the results of choices we each make will shape us. We will continue to impart the value of compliance in certain scenarios, where the cause for compliance, and the result of compliance is positive, rooted in respect, and brings enhancement to one’s life. We will also communicate the value of knowing oneself, by demonstrating the value we hold independently for ourselves. Believing and asserting that each of us, and our perspectives, is equally worthy. And imparting, with great hope, a deep sense of discernment for what is just, what is honorable, and above all, what is compassionate.
The resounding benefit is simple: Regardless of her choices, she learns, and her wisdom increases. So does ours.