One of the questions we ask our children is “Are you going to obey?” This question clarifies that the command is not an optional wish the parents are making, something especially important with very young children. It emphasizes that obedience is a choice, and it communicates my desire for the child to do right.
Some people are concerned that it teaches children to avoid obeying until the last minute (like counting to three, or using the child’s middle name and last name). My response is that if I’m using the question to avoid confrontation, then it’s a problem. But if I’m using it to teach, then I think it’s appropriate.
One of the obedience struggles we’ve been facing with Bethel (age three) is that she bursts into tears when she’s asked to obey. Sometimes she obeys, but often her tears are a delay tactic and are clearly an expression of her resentment.
I’d like to address this issue with her. Yesterday I started asking “Are you going to obey cheerfully?” I’ve also asked several times “Are you going to choose to be cheerful?”
We’ll see how she responds.
Incidentally, I’ve noticed that Bethel and David also cry when they’re angry. I’ve said before “Hitting when you are angry does not work God’s righteousness,” but today I told David “You are crying to show that you are angry.” He stopped and looked at me. I don’t think he had thought of crying as an expression of anger.