I’ve written before on some of my ideologies in being a parent. I’d like to do so again, in particular about instruction and reasoning.

It’s a situation every parent is familiar with: you tell your child to do something. Some prime examples are “Don’t put that in your mouth,” “Pick up your toys,” or “Stop that right now,” but you know what I’m talking about. And instead of obeying, they ask “Why?”

You are at odds with each other. You just want your child to do what you say. Maybe it’s urgent, maybe it’s not. Maybe you’re just not in the mood to turn it into a discussion. But she wants to know why, and that’s only natural. In fact, it’s encouraged. By asking questions, we learn. But there are also times when there’s no time to discuss it. There will be time later, but right now it just needs to happen.

Namine is pretty good about this. She’s old enough and mature enough that she will usually obey with little argument (or she’ll start to argue as she’s doing it, which always amuses me). Our relationship between parent and child is based upon respect and trust. When she doesn’t understand the reason behind why I tell her to do something, she knows that I will explain it later, even if there’s no time at the moment.

Some parents will refuse to allow themselves to be questioned. “Because I say so” is reason enough, and that’s the end of it. But I disagree. In my opinion, I can’t encourage Namine to ask questions about anything except when I tell her to do something. That’s nothing short of hypocritical, even a little cruel. I don’t believe in obedience based upon fear. I do not believe a child should ever live in fear of a parent.

But if it’s hypocritical to say “just do it because I say so,” then I’m a hypocrite. I refer to this as an ideology because it’s an ideal: it’s something I aspire to, but it’s not something at which I always succeed. I am just as guilty of having said “just do what I told you to,” as much as I might hate myself for it.

But that’s a depressing thought to end on, so instead I’ll close with this. Being a parent and being a child are two ends of the same spectrum. We’re all working to better ourselves. We have to work every day on being the best we can be, and loving can be hard work — but it’s all worth it.

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Husband. Daddy. Programmer. Artist. I’m not an expert, I just play one in real life.

  • Jolene Philo

    Great observations, Paul. Thanks for adding this link to DifferentDream.com’s Tuesday link up!