When we tell our children to do something, we want them to be respectful in how they answer. We’ve always allowed for disagreement (by asking permission either to do something else, or to continue what they were doing), but a disrespectful response is not acceptable.
We’ve not, however, been consistent in what response we want, other than obedience.
We’ve always allowed a polite “okay” as an acceptable response, but sometimes okay can sound a little disrespectful.
We’ve also allowed no verbal response, as long as obedience is immediate. That works when you can see the children obeying, but it’s awkward when the child is out of sight and you don’t know if he’s ignoring you or not.
At least one of our children (the three year old) has difficulty paying attention to a command. Since we’ve not asked consistently for a polite response when we give a command, it’s not always apparent when she’s gotten distracted or moving slowly, or whether she is delaying obedience.
Because of these potential problems, lately we’ve been trying to be consistent in requiring a response of “yes, ma’am” (and so on) when they are given a command. Although it is possible to say yes, ma’am disrespectfully, it is less ambiguous when saying okay, which for some reason can sound disrespectful more easily (even when it might not be).
Part of requiring a respectful response is teaching them what it means to “honor” their parents, as they are commanded to do in God’s Word. We need to be making the connection between their response, and their obedience to the Word of God.