flock, child, flock!

November 10, 2009 at 5:00 am 4 comments

So I spend my day offering these girls choices, and giving information, information, information. I loosen my own tightness about how I think the day should go, I follow them as they follow their instincts. I listen to their ideas with the intention of actually maybe even doing that idea. I do this so that they become roundly thinking adults, people that think for themselves. But do you want to know the “drawback” to this plan?



This is Echo explaining to me that she had decided to wait for me outside of the bookstore while I went in for supplies. She had found a curb just the right height, she was all settled in, and felt her plan was a pretty solid one. I looked at her and thought oh man, this whole independent thought thing, argh. I gave her information about what that would actually mean (not letting on for a minute that I wasn’t actually ever going to go in without her), and it took awhile. It took time to neutrally demonstrate what it would be like for me to walk away without her. (I’d like to be clear this was not the classic threat: Fine! I’m going in without you! Bye! ).


And here she is later in the evening, disgruntled because she decided that the Feeleez packages we were packing needed three buttons not two, and I disagreed with her. She honestly felt the packages needed three buttons. The humming flow of our little work party ground to a halt as we discussed, and discussed, and discussed.

Times like these, and countless others, I wonder why I am teaching independent thought. It seems to take forever and essentially means the kid doesn’t do what I want a lot of the time. How does this serve me? There are kids that silently follow their parent through endless errands, that carry out tasks without dissent, that obey. Why not teach obedience?

And then my mind flashed forward a decade or so. If she is obedient… when I’m not around who will she obey? Who will she dutifully follow without question?






No. I’ll take feisty, thought out, defiance any day over blind obedience. Next time she “defies” me, I will imagine her not clumping into a herd of identically dressed teen girls, not stuffing her inner doubts or opinions and agreeing with her boyfriend (or girlfriend), not doing anything she doesn’t want to do. For this I think I can wait patiently in the bookstore parking lot one thousand more times.





Entry filed under: parenting principles. Tags: , , , , .

would you like a pink crocodile head with that? you snooze, i lose…?

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Annie  |  November 10, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    You make me smile, laugh, sigh with agreement, and feel relief for knowing that someone else out there is thinking what I’m thinking.

  • 2. Ivy  |  November 10, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    I admire the amount of energy you expend in this. I’m taking baby steps. I still need a bit more “cooperation” from my kids even if they don’t want to give it. Like I said…baby steps in your direction. But your obedient point has me thinking about formal education which is currently requiring a lot of obedience and cooperation. I’m a huge advocate for public education, but I’m seeing things from a new perspective with my exceptionally bright middle kid who is struggling to see the point of doing the work in a curriculum that is a bit below his ability level. I don’t necessarily like the mentality that we all have to do something just because someone is telling us to do so.

  • 3. gen  |  November 13, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Hooray! Cheers! Yes! and I am with you on the “Really? I really want to teach my child to think for herself.” Oh, mama – it really is the most difficult and challenging job I’ve ever had!

    And always thank you for your honesty and for sharing!

  • 4. obedience « Talk Feeleez  |  July 23, 2010 at 8:13 am

    […] goal are well worth it. In the moment, explaining, using empathy, and offering alternatives can feel trying and time-consuming but I think that most of us would trade those few minutes and extra energy in […]


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