We’ve been talking a lot about ‘listening’ around town lately. The question often comes up – “How do I get my children to listen?” I have answered quickly – get their hearing fixed. Surely they can hear you, they are choosing not to obey. The bigger question – is how do you get kids to obey?
For that, I never have an easy answer. Consistency. Gaining trust. Being fair. Discipline. Love. The how changes from different ages and stages. It’s not easy consistently holding your offspring to obedience. Even harder to know if they are being obedient out of love, fear, coercion, or to avoid conflict/consequences.
This morning I had a Huge Aha Moment. Huge. It will change the way I answer the question above.
I am in a study with the Doorposts Blog – “Thirty Days of Child-Training Boot Camp for Busy, Busy Mamas, Day 3: Obey”
We looked up Obey and Children, wrote out the Who Obeys, Who Do They Obey, How, and Why? Pretty straight forward. When my boys were teeny tiny – a dear sweet Sunday School teacher had them learn the verse in Ephesians 6:1. Children, obey your parents in the Lord for Mrs. Wright. I never did correct them. Just smiled and said, yes, ‘For Mrs. Wright.’ (my last name is Wright).
But Then – We looked up the word Obey. Hypakouo (Hup-a-ku-o) Listen, harken, submit, answers the call, to heed or conform to a command or authority. We looked at the two root words.
Hypo-hu-po – Under, A Place
A-ku-o – Able to hear. Attend to – consider what has been announced. to perceive. To find out, to learn, to comprehend, understand.
And it hit me, so simple, yet an aha moment.
Children who do not heed what is said, are not under your authority. I know that. Right? Their place has been switched. They have put themselves, especially young children, as the head over mom and dad. Calling the shots. I want this, Now. Do it.
As they get older, this is where I’ve had my hardest, on my knees, tear filled days. The struggles I have had stem from this simple Hypo-hu-po. When he wants to flilp flop roles. He’ll come upstairs and tell me, announce like a herald, proclaiming what he will do today. My whole body does a back step. My chest tightens, and I feel the fight or flight urge.
My authority has been ignored or questioned. Is this where we get grounding? Taking away possessions? Yelling? Parents say that they took away the electronics to make their child listen, and be ready to obey next time. What we mean is that we did something to prove our authority – and are trying to switch roles again.
Makes me think of a photo I took this week at a Baseball Game. Coach was trying to give some critique and wisdom to the boys after a ball game. We won the game, it was cold and late, and they just wanted to leave. Next thing you know you see this going on.
He says – Keep doing pushups until you are ready to sit and listen to what I have to say. Both coaches, Over the boys. The boys, Under their authority. Who is in control here?
(#7 cutie is mine, just sayin’)
A strange thing happened. If it were me? I would have dropped and sat up. No. Each of the boys did various amounts of pushups. Competition? Perhaps. Strong wills? Most likely. I’d rather do pushups than get this meeting finished.
Quickly enough – 5-10 pushups later – this is what we see. Almost all eyes on the coach.
Now, they are in a position to hear. To conform to the authority. To find out. To learn. To comprehend, and understand. And – ultimately – in the next performance, carry forward and DO, Put to Action, what was said.
I’ll be thinking of mom strategies for shifting teens back into a role of Mom and Dad Authority. Pushups seem to work pretty well.
Ultimately – My prayer, which has been since they were teeny tiny – is that they would ‘obey, in the Lord, for this is right’ and that they would ‘obey, in all things, for this is well pleasing unto the Lord’, and ‘Obey his voice – with all their hearts and all their souls’, not just to get out of pushups.