Tuesday, February 24, 2009


We had an impromptu family "reminder" discussion this morning after breakfast. It was all about obedience.

This morning, as I was packing lunches and making the Bug Juice (Dylan didn't show up at his usual time), in walked Dylan with a sock in his hand. He'd stepped in cat poop, he said. On the stairs.

"Well, go clean it up," I said.

He didn't like that idea. He thought I should clean it up.

"And why should I clean it up?" I asked. To which he answered, "Because you always do."

Hmmmmm. "Well, not when I'm not the one who smears it into the carpet on several steps," I said. And there was some, "Don't roll your eyes at me, Dylan." And some, "Don't talk back to me, Dylan."

And then there was Dylan losing his video game privileges for one week. Not because he didn't clean up the cat poop, because he did. He lost his privileges because he didn't do it obediently and with a respectful attitude. And this wasn't the first time this week.

I have a thing with video games. Basically, they are my enemy. I despise most of them. I hate the cords everywhere, I hate the mind numbing violence, and I hate the way they suck time away from the kids' lives. However, my husband loves video games. He is the only reason video games exist in this house, because they didn't before he was here. He is super good at them, and he loves the fantasy and the challenge to conquer the world. It's something he loves to do with the boys. Maybe it's a guy thing. So, I pick my battles. Video games are a part of teenage boys' lives, and I've come to accept that. But what we do is have a 30 minute during the school week limit, and a no rated M rule (with one exception, for a game he really, really wanted).

I am on the lookout, for I think that too much video gaming gives one a false sense of power, and that power doesn't exist over The Mother. And jumping right to anger (the "acceptable violence") doesn't jive with me, either. So, that is why if the kids cannot handle their attitudes (ie level of respect, cooperation, obedience, or kindness), then it's time for a break from conquering the world so that we can work on conquering oneself.

I don't mean to portray Dylan in a bad light. He's a terrific kid. Really. I've bragged on his virtues before. I'm merely using this morning as an illustrator of what happens when things go unchecked.

When the oldest kids were very little, we spent a lot of time on character development. It is very easy to do that when homeschooling. It's also apparent to me that when my children are at home, and I am teaching them and they spend their days together, they get along much better. They are kinder, more sharing, less critical, and slower to anger. When they are in public school, sometimes their characters dip to a level that doesn't please me, and we need to bring them back up to par. That's what we talked about this morning. First, and foremost, it is my job to make sure they are good people, who love and honor God. And the reason God used up a whole commandment on honoring our mothers and fathers, is because our parents are our first models of God (or they should be), and we cannot learn to honor God if we cannot honor our parents.

We broke down obedience into four qualities: (that I read from the Duggar's new book, which I loved)

1. Instantly--not when I'm done this level, or after I finish this, or in a minute. As I teach the kids when they're little, "We obey right away." That shows submission and humility.

2. Cheerfully--Obeying with a negative, complaining attitude does no one any good. I expect my children to say, "Yes, Mom." when asked to do something. I like how Michelle Duggar adds, "I'd be happy to", or "sure thing".

3. Thoroughly--I also like to say, "We obey all the way." I can't stand crappy jobs halfway done. And if a child tells me he/she will do something, I expect that he/she has really listened to and understands the task. Michelle suggests requiring eye contact, to be sure the child is really listening.

4. Unconditionally--No matter what. Just like we don't get to pick which commandments we obey, we don't get to choose when or to what degree we obey our parents. (or we can, but then come the consequences.)

If the children can obey and honor my voice, then they are training their hearts to obey and honor the voice of God. That's why the commandment to honor parents is so important in the first place. It's also vital when we have little children who are just learning to obey, and whose eyes are watching the responses and facial expressions of older siblings. It's a difficult thing to be a role model, but it's a responsibility they are endowed with.

We read Ephesians 6:1, a scripture I had the kids memorize, when they were just itty-bitty:
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."

It is what we will be actively working on right now. Obeying instantly, cheerfully, thoroughly, and unconditionally. Nobody wants to scrub cat poop out of the carpet. But when asked to do it, (especially when you're the one who stepped in it) the correct response is, "Yes, Mom. I'll do it right away."

And then, we can play video games.


Unknown said...

I love video games. Especially now that we have the Wii. If you ever get one you will love it. It's a compromise because it's video games, but they are mostly family fun games and you are exercising with every game you play. You're not just sitting on the couch. I'm sure I was like Dylan though when I was a kid and I had my Sega.

Wonder Woman said...

That sounds like a really great book. I've watched their show a few times and I'm always amazed for many different reasons.

Good for you, having pep talks at breakfast.

Misty said...

this is really great... In the past three days I've heard a lot about the duggers... who are these people?

Rachel Sue said...

Oh! Oh! Oh! ME TOO! I HATE and despise video games. My kids aren't old enough to care, but a s long as I can put my foot down there will be none in my house thank you very much.

You love the Duggar's too? Sounds like I need to track down this book. I am amazed that they handle everything in life so calmly. They really are great examples of parenting.

Josi said...

I didn't know the Duggar's had a book, but I love the show. I'm impressed you had the presence of mind to teach a lesson rather than yell--I usually don't in moments like that.

Megan said...

I'm just glad to know that your children are human... I was beginning to wonder! *giggle* :)

Luisa Perkins said...

Oh, amen, sister of my heart.

Abby said...

I'm mostly the same way about video games. Namely..the Sims. I Can't STAND the Sims! It got to the point where O would be telling me stories at dinner about what his Sims did that day. Promotions in the work place and what not and I was always like "that's great..what did your *real* family do today?" They're not real people and I hate that they'd become that real that they'd be talked about. Ugh. Thank goodness the cd was too scratched up to load onto this computer. And no, I wasn't the one to do it (though I did hide it from time to time).

And the *only* reason I was up for the Wii was BECAUSE you're not sitting on your butt while you play (for the most part). It's interactive and it's something we can play together and have a good time with. Because really, what girl likes to be ignored and made to feel less important than a video game? Not this one.

I like the Duggars..mostly. They're fantastic parents and all of that but some of the stuff they do and/or believe in is just too far out there even for me. But hey..to each his own. As long as everyone's happy.

Hannah said...

I love the Duggars. They are so kind and patient and loving with eachother. I wish I could be like that.

There's a saying that my Pastors use a lot that comes to mind from this post. "Anything less than full obedience is disobedience." I love that quote and it's so true. I'm so glad you're such a great Mom to my neice and nephews.

Julie Wright said...

I am not a fan of video games but I am a fan of my kids being home instead of at their friends house. I owen a lot of games in the art of keeping them where they are safe. I am a fan of these obedience things. SOunds like a family home evening lesson to me

Anonymous said...

I’m not sure I can go along with the parental power-play of demanding “instant obedience” in dealing with the children you are supposed to be raising to make mature decisions by them thinking about those decisions or actions first. The process of the end result, Dylan expressing his position, and then you expressing your opinion, and him cleaning up the mess, was correct. This should have been the end of it. Why a penalty for a young man expressing his mind? Ask Dylan if he thinks you are being fair. Or is obedience more important than this and many other resentments a child builds up from the perceived discipline of his parents. I also think you are using video games as a punishment to indirectly get back at your husband. Is life to be lived by “code ethics” or “situational ethics?” Is there justice is a universe of absolutes? I think history has a great example of men being strictly obedient to their superiors without asking questions….ask the Jews. I read many blogs on the internet, and yours is one of the best. Maybe too good to be true and maybe too overwhelming for the people who live around you. I am the mother of two children and I constantly struggle with being a wife, mother, family member, active church member, etc. It’s a good struggle I really enjoy. I try not to sweat the small stuff.

Luisa Perkins said...

We're reviewing these four points in FHE tonight. Thanks for the refresher!