Many of you know I'm a speech-language pathologist and I work in early intervention. I provide therapy to infants and toddlers (ages birth-3) in their natural environment, which most often is the child's home. I have a family currently that is truly lovely; mom and playful and calm with the children, the kid I work with is funny and smart, etc. But they apparently belong to a Christian denomination of a more fundamental bent. There are lots of "children's Bible" type books, the parenting book in the bathroom is by James Dobson (gah!!!), and there is a lot of emphasis on strict manners with adults and on "obeying."
Manners are awesome. I tried very hard to teach both of my children good manners and I'm pretty sure, from things people have said, that as much as they make me want to kill them, with most people they are polite and well-mannered. But when they were just turning 3 I didn't expect them to phrase pretty much *every* "I want" sentence as "may i please have...... " and I have never used the word "obey' in my life.
I know this is a major cultural issue and I try to be very aware of cultural differences in my practices. But first of all, I just needed to vent that it squicks me out to hear someone use the word "obey" to another human being, even if that human being is a just-under-three year old. Can't we say "cooperate" or even "please do what I said?" I realize sometimes adults need to just lay down the law but "obey" implies a level of blind following that makes me uncomfortable. So of course I never use it, but I can't very well tell this mom not to use it.
Second, the "may i please" has some clinical implications, because this kid is very talkative and REALLY smart but he has severe articulation issues, so requiring him to use an even longer utterance than he would normally is not really what I would normally recommend. I've tried modeling and directly recommending shorter sentences, simply adding the word "please," etc but mom is pretty adamant about the "may I" construction.
So I guess this post is for 2 things: anyone else just as squicked by "obey?" and anyone encounter cultural differences in their work that they find hard to get around?
Its my job to explain my reasoning whenever possible and to give the boys more opportunities to make and explain decisions as they get older. It is also my job to limit my use of directives and not make everything an order - I'm sure my kids think they NEVER get a vote, and my MIL thinks they have far too many options in far too many areas. Having said that - the boys don't get to challenge an order when one is given. The rule in my house is that the answer to a directive is "Yes, Mom/Dad." If the boys want to, it is fine to expand to: "Yes, M/D. Why?" or "Yes, M/D. Can I do it in a couple of minutes?" or "Yes, M/D. Did you know that D/M said...?" but we reserve the right to say that we will not explain or postpone our request for that order at that time.
I think that makes me relatively strict (its the no tv/video games/computer games from 9pm Sunday to 3 pm Friday that makes me the meanest mom on the planet)... I expect them to do what they are told, and they regularly are reminded on their relative place on the food chain in our house. They are children and do not have the same rights and privileges of adults because they have rights and privileges that are denied adults.
To get back to your original question, however - I don't think we commonly use the word obey, but I don't know why not. It doesn't really bother me. "Obey" definitely denotes a power dynamic, but that dynamic probably plays out in my house on a regular, if not daily, basis. The boys are expected to "listen to us" or even "do what you are told" but not "obey". Interesting.
Jeepers, bap2, sounds like you're reading the wrong mommy-blogs. What about Dooce and all the Dooce wannabes out there? Those can be pretty entertaining and a lot more relatable.
Although I read an article a while back on the appeal of those virtual scrapbook mommy blogs. Googling..... Here we go: Why I can’t stop reading Mormon housewife blogs. Enjoy!
Me and my sisters obeyed. Definitely. Focus on the Family made sure my parents had the tools necessary. One of those tools was the wooden spoon my mother liked to beat us with. It went EVERYWHERE with us. To church, to the grocery store, to the park. Everywhere. There was never a time when I wasn't being threatened with it during my early childhood to be that shiny, happy, well-behaved, polite and obedient child. I think she stopped carrying it...when I was around 9 or 10. I still hate that fear is what I remember predominately about my earlier years. I hate that I don't trust my mom, and I hate that I don't feel like I can ever be close to her or ever talk to her about anything. She is utterly convinced she did the right thing, and that by NOT beating us every day, we would have become drug-using, thieving, man-stealing skanks. Or something to that effect. So yeah...my experience with the word is colored by conservative Christian, authoritarian upbringing.
The kiddos are allowed to negotiate within reason - this is an ongoing lesson. I absolutely believe in them questioning my authority. Yes, it makes for some trying times, but I don't think what I'm doing is wrong. I've explained to them in the most basic language that I'm not here as their friend. I'm here to teach them to be adults, and that is not always going to be fun for them. Being an adult means learning discipline and responsibility. And I will drill that into their little, stubborn heads. If I can't explain my own reasoning to a child, then I'm doing it wrong.
I'm much too late to this thread to add anything new, but yes "obey" creeps me out (and I also think of Shepard Fairey). And my experience echos MNM's, although some of the players are different. One thing that gets me is that I had the sense that a lot of "obedience" was about making the parents look good. If your kid wasn't obedient, then the parent was a failure/subpar Christian/whatever. And that's what made "obedience" so much important--not that it was best for the kid, but it was the best option for looking good in public (or your blog).
So, no, I don't use the word with my kid. And I try to emphasize the "health and safety" rationale behind our decisions. But negotiation and compromise are allowed (and probably even encouraged) arond here.