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?
I get where you're coming from on "obey" but it doesn't bug me nearly as much. I could tell many cultural differences stories, but I think healthcare ones will take the cake. I'm also not sure what I'm allowed to discuss as the project where I'm learning these tidbits isn't open to the public yet.
But hoo boy... health care is a whole new level of "differences" because what is at stake in terms of how we practice health care and infection control is such a serious part of our duty of care.
I may not be as hardcore as that family, but I do expect my kids to obey me. Of course, how we go about that is by reinforcing politeness and good manners, explaining why I need them to do what I'm asking right at that very moment, and explaining that by learning to follow directions they will get less nagging from me. There have been times where I've said, after exhausting the above methods, "Just do what I say!"
As for the word "Obey", it may have developed a bit of a bad rap because of the marriage vows. When Hubby and I were going through our pre-marital counseling sessions(required by the church we were using for the ceremony), we had an entire hour's discussion on whether or not to include that word in our vows. We considered tradition, then debated the implications of the word, then the respect we held for each other, then joked about who was going to obey whom, and so on. Eventually, we dropped just that one word but kept very traditional vows otherwise. Nobody wants to be considered weak, which is what the word "obey" has come to signify. When you obey someone, you're giving someone power over you and allowing them to tell you what to do. But in the context of children and parents, it's a perfectly legitimate word to use because that's exactly what the relationship means. The definition is "to submit to the authority of". Damn skippy that kids should submit to the authority of their parents.
The child may have trouble saying the phrase "may I please ____" now, but we all know you'll get them saying it right in no time.
But please don't get me started on cultural differences in work. We'll be here all day.
We ask the little man to use "may I please have" with pretty much 100% of requests. BUT. We only started doing so around 6 months ago - before that, we thought "please" was enough to remember, and the little man doesn't struggle with speech. OTOH, so long as the parents are gently reminding the kid to use the phrase and aren't breaking out the hot sauce Dobson-style, I wouldn't think it would hurt the kid - it might just be an exercise in futility.
I have read about this as a cultural difference. But some studies (and dammit, I can't FIND them now) also argue that raising kids to obey has long term implications as to kids' success. Kids who grow up being allowed to negotiate, or cooperate, or whatever start out as more aggravating entitled shits. Alas, they then go on to positions of authority because they have an ingrained belief that they have the right to make suggestions, change things, alter paths. Things businesses ultimately like.
Other kids are asked to just obey, and they are much better behaved kids in the short run. But then later in life they don't assume as much authority and are less likely to end up in leadership positions in businesses.
Of course, this doesn't really factor in the lack of class mobility and racism/sexism/etc that might do much more to limit kids' career mobility. But it's one suggestion for a contributing factor.
Obedience makes me think of dogs. They obey their masters. Children don't--as much as I dream of it when my son won't listen to us at all!
While I don't terribly like the word, if they're gentle, loving parents and they don't beat the children into obeying then it's fine.
"May I please" is great, but personally I'd be more focused on working on my kid's language problems than on perfect manners.
McGlory, there was an article on NPR called, "Why A Teen Who talks Back May Have A Bright Future" that refers to this article about child-parent interactions and how they affect children's social skills later in life.
I tell my kids occasionally to obey the rules and to do what I say because they are children and sometimes they just have to do what I tell them, damnit. But yes, the connotation associated with one adult obeying another makes me cringe (unless we're talking a little S&M).
Does the child struggle with saying, "May I please..."? If not, then I don't see the harm in having him say it. I make Baby Grey "ask politely" for things. Saying (or yelling, rather) "Water please!!!" is not really acceptable to me so I give him the look and say "excuse me" or "pardon me" and he corrects himself to some variation of, "Can I have water, please?"
Thank you LG! That wasn't quite the study I was thinking of, but it's along the same lines. I did some more hunting and still can't find the study online, though I remember reading it in a particular house (so, around 2007). :) Ugh.
Ultimately, I expect my child to listen to me. But I also explain the reasoning behind what I'm asking for or have him reason out why I'm asking. He's not always rational about this stuff, so sometimes I explain again when he is rational, but I do feel he is entitled to an explanation of why I'm asking. However, as he doesn't suffer from any speech difficulties, he is expected to ask to be excused from the table and to say please when requesting something.
If he had speech difficulties, obviously I would let that slide in promotion of developing good speech and not making things overly complicated and thus frustrating the kid.
I was away when one of my brothers got married, but my sister still snickers when she recalls that "obey" was in my SIL vows. Wives have to obey too, not just kids.
My other brother and his wife are raising my nephew with this 'obey' mentality, very strict and demanding. I'm waiting for the day it all goes wrong, while feeling sorry for my sweet 8yo nephew. I'm not around them much, but I have to bite my tongue when they yell at him for doing things any normal 8yo would do.
I have a feeling we're pretty strict and demanding. We just don't expect him to obey us without giving him an explanation. But once has the explanation, he should do it. :)
I was married in the Greek Orthodox church and our wedding ceremony included the words "Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife. Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it." We tried to get the priest to read that part in Greek (no part of the ceremony can be changed or skipped) since I don't understand it, but he wouldn't. Ugh.
I have yet to submit to my husband. Oops! ;-)
I find myself torn. I think as parents who are responsible for raising people who are decent to other humans, I can't make peace with the idea that kids should be able to negotiate, argue or back-talk over every single thing. Some things are obviously not-negotiable... they are safety issues. Some things are obviously territory for negotiation... do you want to go swimming today or to the park? How many episodes of Spiderman should you watch today?
And I think that holds true in business as well. There's times where you throw your ideas in the ring, and there's times where you shut up and do as you are told. Not everything in life is about negotiation, or what you want. Sometimes, there's laws, and sometimes it's just doing something the way someone else wants it done or when they want it done. I think there's a danger in too much negotiation.. in that it sets the expectation that what *you* want is always important enough for discussion. And I think that is not true.
In business, there's often issues of "rank"... who is in what position, who is older, who is more experienced, who gets paid more, who is closer to the presidents office. It's folly to bullhead your way through all your business interactions with the idea that everyone is equal, or that you have a right to know the reason for everything. Sometimes, you can find out if you ask the right people at the right times, and you can learn from that. But digging your heels in expecting a full out explanation for something is not going to go over well in a number of business situations.
I think for me... the original issue was that of politeness, which is one of the ways we show respect for others. Now in the case of a kid who is having trouble with speech, sure, not an appropriate expectation. But most kids sooner or later get to the point where they can say it and should say it. But as an example, my 3 year old is fond of demanding that I do things for him immediately. RIGHT NOW! Am I doing him any favours by immediately doing as he asks, or am I helping him become a more tolerable person to be around by insisting that he use polite words and be prepared to wait a few minutes?
Clearly I am closer to the authoritarian side than most of you :-)
The guy in the cubicle next to mine used to get calls from his family during the day, and I'd overhear him lecturing the kids to "obey." I always found this sadly ironic, because in the workplace he (and I) were publications underlings with no authority whatsoever. That was years before I had kids.
Now The Boy, who has Aspergers, is simultaneously much more and much, much less capable of "obedience." He thrives on rules and order, but NO ONE is going to make him sit down when he needs to pace, write when he doesn't feel like writing, or delve into an unpleasant sensory situation. (That's what OT is for.)
Little Girl is neurotypical as far as we know, but she has some extreme sensory issues with food and clothes. As long as she eats balanced meals and leaves the house with pants on, I give her a lot more control over what she puts on and in her body than many parents would. I'm comfortable with it.
We have to choose our battles. My big one is insisting they speak to others with kindness and respect. (Doesn't always happen, but we work on it.)