Making Your Child Obey
Wouldn’t it be great if you could MAKE someone else do something?
That’s what we as parents are trying to do when we discipline our children.
But WHO can make anyone else DO ANYTHING?

As parents we are to train up our children. That means, encourage obedience, discourage rebellion. I’ve written about training before. You can see the list on the sidebar or HERE.
Starting early instills habits of discipline.
Discipline shows children they are not in charge: they cannot do what they want when they want.
You can make it very rewarding for a child TO obey.
You can make it very uncomfortable for a child NOT to obey.

My sister and my son care for my mother who has dementia. 
When my sister, who is a nurse and has been taking care of my mom for over 15 years, calls the doctor’s office, the nurse instructs her that she should make sure mom drinks more water, and doesn’t drink coffee.
My sister knows this. 
Dehydration is a common aggravation to the elderly. 
It can cause confusion and disillusionment.
But how does my sister MAKE MY MOM DRINK MORE WATER?
Should she pinch her nose and pour it down her throat? 
Of course not!
She can’t.
It’s my mom’s personal choice.
My mom must choose to drink more.

When my children were small, I could manipulate the circumstances to make consequences for disobedience painful.
If you don’t eat your dinner, you won’t get dessert.
If you don’t do your four o’clock chores, you won’t eat dinner.
If you don’t feed the dogs, you don’t get to eat.
(Sounds like we just eat here, but we do other things, but you get the idea.)
So what’s a parent to do? Admit defeat? And allow them to disobey?

There is no changing my mom. She will do what she will do.
We all know that.
But still my sister struggles. Should she try harder? How can she persuade her?

Moms struggle with that too. Especially as their children become adults. 
Those teenage years are not for changing them. 
The more you seek to change them, the more stubborn they become in what they want to do.
James Dobson, family counselor and psychologist, used to say, “Just get them through the teenage years.”
Moms can support, encourage, advise, cheer, but can’t make their children do right.

All people will stand before God ALONE. 

Not with their mom’s there to explain how they really are a good person.

I’ve written a lot about our one son who was exposed to drugs as a baby. 
It has affected HIS ENTIRE LIFE. 
I could excuse his actions based on his background. 
I could justify his choices based on his genes. 
But ultimately HE MUST CHOOSE. 
And he is accountable for those choices.

There comes a time when a parent must back off and allow the consequences of life to teach harder lessons. 
Softening consequences will not bring their awareness of their wrong. 
This must be done throughout their life, not just when they’ve “grown up.”
Where you allowed them to get sick from eating too much candy and junk.
Consequences of poor choices must be felt.
But as they reach their teen age years, those consequences seem so much harder to face.
We are tempted to shield them from them. To bail them out. To soften them.

You shouldn’t.

We know of a teenager who killed someone while driving. 
Of course it wasn’t intentional. 
But it happened. 
It is easy to get distracted while driving. 
A child steps out to cross the street. 
He isn’t seen.
But the consequences are far reaching.
For everyone.

Why do I share this article? To depress a parent on what they can’t do?

To encourage you with what you can do.
How do you reach your child to Make Them Obey?
Even God allowed choices.
Choices imply that some are good and some are bad.
By setting up choices, God allowed us to show our love for Him by what we choose.
By allowing choices, man choose not to include God in their lives.
That was NOT what God wanted.
But He allowed it.
Because He wanted our love freely given.
Same with our children.
We desire them to obey because they love us, not because we discipline them.

When our children were small, we didn’t explain why we had certain rules.
We didn’t reason with a child who is running across the street.
We just wanted them to stop and obey instantly.
But as they matured, we’d explain the reason for the rules to help guide them in their own choices.
With one it became a time to argue over the value of the rule.
I stopped explaining.
He was not willing to obey regardless of the reason.
He saw himself as in control.

Disgracing or ridiculing him may give outward obedience, but with a bad attitude.
Sadly, with this son, I tried many ways.
All unproductive, until—
I realized the desire to obey is a HEART ISSUE.

He didn’t care what I wanted.
He didn’t want to please.
He didn’t desire the same things that I desired.
All those things reflected the motive behind the rules, the attitude—the heart.

Even God allows an individual to choose what he does with his heart.
Could I do what God doesn’t?

Where do we as parents fit in with this heart issue?
Discipline starts when the child is young and tender and willing to obey.
Of course those terrible two’s come—where we must demonstrate to them—they are not in control and there are consequences for any choice they make.
That prepares them to know God.
For if they do not obey someone whom they can see, how will they obey Someone Whom they cannot see?

Most people come to God when they are children.
Their heart is more receptive to allow God to have control, then when they have established habits, patterns, and life styles they believe they can control.
In other words, our rebellion becomes more hardened.
They may be nice people, but they still choose what they want.
They bow their knee to no god.

As parents, there comes a time when you let go.
But it is not overnight.
You let go in degrees.
When a parent is overbearing, insisting on his way, and does not lighten up as the child grows, he creates resentment in the child. 
That’s what that verse says, Fathers do not provoke your children to anger. Ephesians 6:4.
There are multiple examples where the children were so obedient, until their teenage years.
Everyone was so surprised.
What happened?
Their thoughts became actions.
They resented never having the freedom to choose.
They rebelled.

The child needs to be allowed to make decisions as he matures—that’s part of growing up.
That’s a delicate balance the parent must show—control with freedom.
Without that freedom, the child may obey in every way outwardly.
When he is told what he will do at all times, without freedom to choose, he resents the restraints.
By the time teenage years comes,  what has been thoughts inside begin to show themselves outwardly. 
Thoughts become actions.
What they’ve been resenting all those years comes out.
They want at least to try things their way. 

What do you do as a parent at this point?
Choices at this age could be devasting.
But necessary.

When I began praying more for my son’s attitude and ways to reach him, we began seeing changes.
With the other boys, it was by treating them with respect, as if they were becoming men---even when they were still twelve.
I would ask how they would solve this problem, rather than tell them how I wanted them to do it.
I would give structure if necessary, but they solved the problems.

With this son, he wasn’t ready.
He had never learned that I was in control, so I couldn’t NOT be. 
He corrected what I said constantly.
This gave evidence that he still hadn’t learned he was not the boss.
But when I started to give more freedom, he responded.
Not big changes.
But rolling of the eyes or obvious disrespect slowly lessened.
That is hard for a parent—to give freedom to a child who isn’t ready for it.
But it was also covered in prayer—for him and me.

With issues of the heart, we all need God.
He softens the heart.
He speaks to the heart.
He decides, like in the case of Pharaoh, his heart was hardened and would not change.
God judged him.

How does God change hearts?
God sent ten plagues to Pharaoh to encourage him to change his mind.
Pharaoh would not.
Notice, God did not soften the consequences.
Pharaoh suffered the full harm of each plague.
The more he hardened his heart, the more irrational he became.
Even his counselors and advisors told Pharaoh, “Don’t you know, Egypt is destroyed?!”
When a person is set on his own way, they dig in and won’t change what they want, even when their choices destroy the foundation they stand on.

Romans 1 tells of this spiral.
They can’t understand reason.
They are deceived.
They have chosen.

Perhaps some of my readers are parents with rebellious children.
Where’s the hope?
God is a God Who changes hearts.
He changed yours, didn’t He?
Our lives of our children should start with prayer and end with prayer
And be covered in prayer throughout their lives.

Make your child obey?
Not any more than you can make yourself obey God totally.
We need His help.

Pray and total surrender to Him brings us to Him—
Who is the answer.

Displaying 1 comment

Wow . Surrender. Such a big word in so many ways. I’ve surrendered more of my life to Christ than I ever realized I had, yet I still see so much more of my mind, heart and soul to release. The funny thing is, I know the more I give up of me the more like Christ I can be, so why the struggle? Hard headed, or a little callus around the heart? I don’t know. I know we hide things in our hearts that we think God doesn’t see, kinda like that candy paper under the couch, maybe mom will not find. Then it Crinkles …. Oops. I’m so greatful that God sees it all , all of my heart and he knows that I truly want to give my all to him, and I praise his name for choosing me to be his child, even if I do not mind all the time. Thanks Sonya

I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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