Obedience As an Act of Love, NOT Fear

Image via Shutterstock.  Used with permission.

Image via Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Laurel, a delightful Catholic mom over at MuffinDome Blog has a lovely reflection on the best way to command authentic obedience from your children. She offers her own insightful comments in response to somethings she read in Parenting with Grace.  She writes…

We are entering into the years where we begin expecting obedience from our toddler. Obviously, it is not that easy — even if she understands what I’m asking her to do, she doesn’t jump to it right away. It is a process that is ongoing and difficult and growing {for both of us}.

Even for the most docile of children, obedience is not automatic. Even for the children that like to please their parents, it is not a given. These are helpful, but I’m finding that what is even more important is what I GIVE.

I recently started the Popcaks’ book, Parenting With Grace. Within the first few pages, I stumbled across something that really struck a chord with me: inspiring obedience through an example of loving service. The goal isn’t to instill obedience out of fear – of what might happen if they don’t obey, but rather instill obedience out of love – and what might happen if they DO.

I’ve always loved St. John Paul the Great’s Theology of the Body. One of the things he emphasizes over and over in it is the fact that the body is made to communicate the personand that the body speaks the language of self-donation or gift. Our bodies make us capable of giving of ourselves. They make us able to serve others. Through our bodies we are capable of committing acts of love.

As parents {and in any other capacity where we expect obedience from others}, we must first give example through loving service. We must give of ourselves in order to inspire others to do so in return.

This teaches an obedience based on friendship rather than fear.  We want to teach our children an obedience that anticipates and fulfills the needs of another, so that, in turn, they may learn to do this for others themselves.

Seen in this light, obedience is really another form of intimacy where one person attentively seeks out the needs of the other and lovingly fulfills them, often without being asked, certainly without being asked twice. (Popcak, p.25)

We want to inspire our children to be obedient through an example of loving service. If we are generous and loving with our children, in turn, they will want (hopefully!) to be generous and loving with us.  READ MORE

Thanks Laurel, both for your kind words and your willingness to embrace the joy of parenting from the heart!  May God bless you and your family abundantly!

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About Dr. Greg

Dr. Gregory Popcak directs the Pastoral Solutions Institute, an organization dedicated to helping Catholics find faith-filled solutions to marriage, family, and personal problems. Together with his wife, Lisa, he hosts More2Life Radio. He is the author of over a dozen books integrating psychological insights with our Catholic faith. For more info about books, tele-counseling and other resources, visit www.CatholicCounselors.com.