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Catholic Activity: Elementary Parent Pedagogy: Teaching Obedience in Elementary Children

Obedience is the chief outward form by which children acknowledge the right of their parents. It might be good for us to consider the topic of obedience. We must ask ourselves the question: How shall we teach obedience? The author gives very helpful guidelines.

DIRECTIONS

Obedience is the chief outward form by which children acknowledge the right of their parents. It might be good for us to consider the topic of obedience. We must ask ourselves the question: How shall we teach obedience?

  1. By giving good example. Parents who disobey God and the Church will have a hard time exacting obedience. As was said last month, we parents ought to make a great effort to get up early on Sunday morning for Mass, to receive the Sacraments weekly if possible, and to follow out the instructions given by the priest. We must let it be evident to our children that we obey all the Commandments ourselves.
  2. By beginning to train the children when they are young. As was said in January, a child learns the idea of discipline in babyhood. He learns to conform to rules and laws about living, eating, sleeping, keeping clean, etc., and if we parents have not thrown away a golden beginning, we have started our children on the road of discipline and obedience.
  3. By not being over-sentimental. Mothers have a strong instinct to shield the child from all pain. When the time comes that the child wants to cross the mother's wishes or rules, the foolish mother yields to keep the child happy. This means that gradually the child will become the ruler and the parent the slave. Keep at the job you began when the child was a baby. Retain the mastery you then had.
  4. By making as few unbreakable rules as possible. If we have a few carefully chosen rules, we can insist on obedience to them. There should be rules like the following:

    Say your morning and evening prayer. Come home at a certain hour. Study lessons at given times. Go to bed at a certain hour. Perform certain tasks in the home. Treat your parents, brothers and sisters with courtesy.
  5. By being consistent and insistent about a few rules. Firmness, without any show of anger or temper, is what wins. Children respect firm parents. If we have made the mistake of being too lenient in the past, we can now gradually change our tactics. In this case we must by degrees and very carefully establish our authority.
  6. By teaching the Commandment, "Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother." If we make our home Catholic in spirit, all the training in obedience should be accompanied by the constant reminder that children obey because God told them to do so. Of course, some parents use this fact as an excuse for acting like tyrants and forcing submission. Such policy leads to hatred of God. Remember that God does not force. He wants our willing submission. That is what we must seek to win from our children, — obedience given willingly.

Activity Source: Religion in the Home: Monthly Aids for the Parents of Elementary School Children by Katherine Delmonica Byles, Paulist Press, 1938

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