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Cloud and Townsend on Boundries and Disobedience

I’ve been reading “Boundaries” by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend. While there is a lot of dirt to brush away, there is an occasional nugget. This excerpt was one of them.

Some parents will say to the child, “You’ll do what I say.” This is fair enough. God meant for parents to be in charge of children. But then they’ll say, “And you’ll like doing it.” This makes a child crazy, because it’s a denial of the separate soul of the child. To “make the child like it” is to pressure the child into becoming a “people pleaser,” not a “God pleaser” (Gal. 1:10).

Some parents criticize the boundaries of their children:

“If you disagree with me, I’ll…”
“You’ll do it my way or else.”
“Don’t question your mother.”
“You need an attitude adjustment.”
“You’ve got no reason to feel bad.”

Children need to be under authority and control of their parents, but when parents punish their child for his growing independence, he will usually retreat into hurt and resentment.

This hostility is a poor counterfeit of God’s program of learning discipline. Discipline is the art of teaching children self-control by using consequences. Irresponsible actions should cause discomfort that motivates us to become more responsible.

The “my-way-or-else” approach teaches children to pretend to be obedient, at least when the parent is in earshot. The “You-have-a-choice” approach teaches children to be responsible for their own actions. […]

When parents great their children’s disagreement, disobedience, or practicing with simple hostility, the children are denied the benefit of being trained. They don’t learn that delaying gratification and being responsible have benefits. They only learn how to avoid someone’s wrath. […]

The results of this hostility are difficult to see because these children quickly learn how to hide under a compliant smile.

Cloud & Townsend Boundaries p. 76-77