I just heard a woman on the radio talking about her sexual abuse by a Catholic priest. She said that the church’s doctrine of obedience was a large part of it. “How else,” she said, “would a child be willing to endure that kind of control and not say anything about it?” – or words to that effect.
It is most important to consider the ramifications of demanding obedience in children. Why do we ask for it? To make our lives easier. Think about it. When children are brought up to obey their elders, they do not question. If they have not rebelled against the demands for obedience, they have succumbed—the risk can be far greater. We cannot be the authority in our children’s lives forever. So, would we rather have them thinking for themselves, being willing to stand up for what they believe against strong forces to comply, or would we rather have them follow whoever they look to for their source of influence at any given time?
Children who are not used to thinking for themselves will need an authority figure after we, the parents, have worn out our welcome. They will need someone to make decisions for them, to tell them which direction to take, to be the one they cannot live without.
Isn’t it worth it to raise children who are willing to say, “No, I won’t” when they don’t want to do something we ask? That does not mean raising children to do what they want—it means raising children who believe they have a voice.