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Does Pride hinder Obedience? - Live life with your kids - Issue 097
April 17, 2009
Hi there! ....

My week:
I have been away this week - Pete's parents have been with the kids keeping things ticking over. It is a great opportunity for the grandparents - who live so far away - to enjoy their grandkids, see the kids in their natural environment (instead of in holiday/vacation mode) and be involved in some of their projects.

Live life with your kids!

Does Pride hinder our Child's Obedience?

Though we often talk of obedience we don’t often think of the word submission though it is closely connected.

  • Obedience is listening to and carrying out the wishes of your authority.
  • Submission is the attitude that makes you obedient: Submission is the recognition of your need for an authority, recognition of that authority and then choosing to respect and obey that authority.

Though we aren’t responsible for our children’s hearts there are many things that we do throughout the day that has a direct impact on their hearts. Pride is the heart-thing that will hinder submission. Do we allow pride to be established in our child’s hearts?

A child who is proud
  • Thinks that they have it together, therefore they don’t need anyone to guide or train them
  • Thinks that they are mature enough to make decisions on their own, so they won’t listen to advice
  • Thinks that they are important (maybe the center of the universe), so everyone needs to pay them attention
  • Thinks they are right – this self righteous attitude means they don’t need correction (in their opinion)
  • Thinks they are capable of anything and therefore they will set out to do whatever they want
  • Thinks they know everything, therefore they don’t need to listen
  • Thinks they are better (wiser, cleverer) so they become condescending and unconcerned about others

Can you see a thread through this? A proud child doesn’t need anybody: they don’t need older, wiser, experienced people because they have got it together (at least in their own eyes they do). They don’t need guidance, they don’t need accountability and they certainly don’t need anyone telling them what to do. In their opinion, they don’t need an authority figure – therefore there is no need for them to submit (to you).

This attitude in our children (this pride) begins so small, so subtle that we often ignore it or maybe don’t even see it. Maybe we see it as a positive independent streak, but if we don’t guard and train their hearts their attitude becomes self absorbed and prideful rather than humble, submissive and obedient.

Are we creating a prideful attitude in our children that hinders their submission?

  • Do we allow them to make choices beyond their maturity (their real maturity, not their perceived maturity?)
  • Do we allow them to do what they want? (maybe it helps to keep the peace)
  • Do we allow them to say what they want? (regardless of the appropriateness)
  • Do we allow attitude* to sneak in without dealing with it?
  • Do we allow them to be opinionated regardless of whom they are talking to?
  • Do we allow them to argue with us? (negotiate, grumble)
  • Do we allow them to show off? (become the center of attention)
  • Do we accept a quick “I’m sorry” without them really acknowledging what was wrong with their actions, their heart?
  • Do we allow them to talk more than listen? (even as little ones)
  • Do we allow them to tell tales? (even if they are just being a big brother/sister)
  • Do we do anything to make them happy?
  • Do we allow them to sulk rather than deal with their problems?
  • Do we praise them to make them feel good? (regardless of what their behaviour was really like)

As we allow, even one of these little things, to happen in our child’s life their need for guidance, constraint and wisdom becomes less important to them. They begin to see themselves as older and wiser than they truly are. We know the phrase, “6 going on for 26”. It can appear to be cute – but that is purely looking at the externals – when we begin to see heart attitudes we are horrified at what damage this prideful attitude can do to our child’s hearts in the long term.

As we allow these things to become a habit in our child’s life they will not recognize their need for an authority figure, they will not recognize your position of authority in the family, and therefore they won’t choose to respect and obey that authority. This is the bottom line for disobedience, especially if you have firmly entrenched disobedience in your child’s heart.

How to get submission back into our children’s hearts? The desire to do it my way and to do it by myself is one of the strongest sinful streaks in our children (in all of us!) And I call it sinful because it is directly connected with what Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden – they decided they wanted to do it their way, without God, they decided for themselves….. the rest is history! So it is an important one to work on in our children’s lives and it will be a hard one!

First we need to know for ourselves what our family structure looks like. What is the flow of authority in your home? Know that there needs to be a difference between adult and children. We need to be in a place where we are clear that we do have the authority in our child’s lives – that this is a God given position.

For the older child, who is able to process moral information we can talk to them, and let them know that we are seeing this prideful attitude, an attitude that is leading them to resist your authority, and tell them that it needs to change. As always, we need to include the moral reason why submission is the right way to live.

We need to teach our children to

  • recognize authority in their life
  • respect authority
  • obey authority
  • be accountable to their authority
This will need to be done step by step and may take some time, depending on how far your child has travelled down the independent, prideful path.

For the younger child, we need to just change our expectations and we need to start correcting for the attitudes of self-will and pride. There is no benefit in discussing this with a younger child who has no ability to process, or understand moral thinking. For the younger child it is a matter of giving them the outward expression of what you are talking about (submission and obedience), give them the physical tools to do it (such as teaching them to “come to Mummy” or “stop!” or to say, “Yes Mum”) and develop in them a habit of the heart and actions for being submissive / obedient and later on you will be able to instruct them as to why this is so important (moral reason why).

Submission is not about being weak, or a walk over, but rather it is about recognizing positions of authority and respecting them. We have many such figures in our own life – the ‘boss’ in our work environment, the laws of our country and the ultimate authority in our lives - God. Those who understand submission and choose to obey will reap the benefits. It is a good thing for our children to understand this principle for living from an early age.

*Attitude is an emotional reaction to your authority. We tend to deal with negative behaviour – actions – because it is the physical outworking of disagreeing with our authority. Attitude is simply the emotional outworking of disagreeing with our authority and it needs our attention as much as their wrong actions do.

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Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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