One of my Christian Facebook friends posted this essay today. It made me really sad. Because it blames parents for things they shouldn't be blamed for while excusing authorities who misuse their power, and because it forgets that kids are real people, too.
The essay opens with a story about a 13-year-old boy who was told by police to drop his toy gun and he didn't do it, so they shot him. The author argues that if the boy had just learned to obey, he would be alive right now.
Like...what the actual fuck? Why are we not questioning the law enforcement officials who SHOT an unarmed boy without checking to see if he was an actual threat? Why does this blame get dumped on the kid's parents? We don't even know if the parents didn't "require obedience" from their son. Maybe he had mental problems. Maybe he had anger issues. Why are we blaming their parenting without any background knowledge? (note: the author doesn't necessarily argue this, he says maybe the kid didn't hear, but still. the fact that this argument would even enter his mind astounds me.)
Then the essay goes on to argue that obedience is Biblical, better for your child, and "you can break the multi-generational curse." Leaving the first one aside, I disagree that it is necessarily better for your child. We are often told that "children are to obey" in this culture, but that's only half the story. If we teach children to blindly obey, we are setting them up not to question the institutions that can be harmful to them and others. We are setting them up not to think for themselves. We are setting them up to prize obedience over kindness to other human beings. And we're setting the stage for power-tripping.
I'm not arguing that kids should do whatever they want. But I am arguing that kids are better off when you encourage questioning, when you give them reasons along with the rules, when you are willing to treat them like intellectual, if not physical, equals. That way, kids learn to respect authority when it has their best interests at heart, but not when it's just power-tripping.
I don't have kids (and neither does the person who posted this essay), but I know my mom raised me by showing me that she was an authority worth obeying. And I hope to be able to do the same thing if I ever raise children.