I know some parents who are deliberately teaching dependence in their children. Concern about teaching children submission is (from what some of these mothers have told me) at the forefront of their mind. And truly, since obedience is the only command given directly to children in the New Testament, obedience is of utmost importance.
But dependence and passivity are not obedience. I want my children to know how to say no when an adult tries to harm them. I want them to lead a group of friends to do right, rather than follow a listless crowd. I want them to be leaders. I want them to search the scriptures for themselves, rather than be content to be told what they believe.
That involves helping them learn how to make choices.Â I’m thinking about this, because both children are outside playing this morning, and they both chose their clothing. Since we’re not going somewhere that they are stuck with what they’ve chosen, I give them wide latitude in what they decide to wear. David chose a short sleeve shirt. I knew he’d be cold after 5 minutes, but I didn’t say anything. He asked about the shorts, and I told him it’s probably too cool for shorts, but he’s welcome to put them on and change later if he needs to (he put them back). I figure that they’ll figure out that what they’ve worn is inappropriate and adjust their choices accordingly. (obviously, if the weather was cold enough to harm them, I would not allow them this learning experience)
Funny thing, they don’t always make the connection between what they’ve worn and their comfort. So, when Bethel came in, and said “I’m cold” I got a coat and told her that she’s cold because she doesn’t have a coat on. David came in and said “I need a coat; I’m cold” but he got a light workout jacket that was ineffective. He came in after a few minutes and said “I’m done playing outside. It’s too chilly.” I told him that the jacket (a recent gift) was a bit too light and he’d be comfortable with a heavier jacket. He put it on and was good to go for a little while longer.
It’s a small thing, but I value the opportunity for my children to learn the consequences of choices, even at a young age.Â There are disadvantages, of course. Maybe I’ll talk about those another time.