Obedience – At What Cost?

I was reading our local news paper today and was shocked to read about a man driving around our area trying to lure kids into his car. It is so scary for the people that live here. You can hear people whispering about it everywhere you go in town.

I was in the grocery store the other day getting my cart. A little boy, maybe eighteen months old, came running out into the cart area squealing with delight. The mother ran in after him and snatched him up. “I told you to stay with Mommy! You were bad! That man could have taken you! You are going to be strapped in the cart now because you didn’t listen!” The little boy cried so loud the entire time they were in the store. It was heartbreaking. You could hear the fear and anger in this mothers voice. It was a very negative experience, all for the sake of fear and obedience training.

Fear. It is the driving force and one of the main reasons parents are mean and control their kids today. This mother was so petrified about this guy driving around that she was mean to her son, instilling him with fear and negativity. He was angry and hurt by her. The entire time at the store he wanted to get away from her and get down and explore. When a stranger is kinder to a child than the parent, it can be very conflicting for a child. Children are responsive to love, kindness, trust and joy not fear, anger and negativity.Children are not naturally designed to be obedient over their own inner desires and drives. Parents spend years trying to bend the will of their children to meet their needs before their own.

The little boy that ran into the store before his Mom was so joyful and full of life. He was exploring and running and in such bliss at that moment. He didn’t have the ability to put his mothers needs before his own. It just isn’t possible and it is so narcissistic to expect such a young child to do so. Most adults can’t even do it. To expect a toddler to put obedience before exploring and playing is not only cruel, it is unrealistic.

When a child isn’t raised in our cultures way of  training to obey, he stays in a state of wholeness and remains trusting of himself.  The child is confident and their inner knowing and intuition stays firmly in tact. If an adult tells them to do something like, “get in my car”, they wouldn’t even consider it. It would be like asking a confident adult the same question. They do not have the fear of not obeying on their backs, driving them to do things that don’t feel right. When trained for obedience by parents and teachers, the desires of adults always come before their own… or else! Safety of the child becomes an issue because they are so trained to listen to adults without question. They are forced to kiss Grandma when they don’t want to, they are made to obey adults in every scenario – except one… and that one feels very unclear to most kids.

There is no “Stranger Danger” film, or sit-down talk powerful enough to override the years of obedience training that most kids receive for them to be able to have a clear knowing of what to do in the situation when an adult is asking them to do something. It is very conflicting for a child. When a child has physically and emotionally gone through the motions of obedience and meeting adults needs, just telling a child to “not listen to a stranger” is so hypocritical when everything else they hear in life says just the opposite.

I feel that my children are much safer than children who have been raised with obedience training, because they have always been able to have their needs met without putting our needs before theirs, hence valuing their needs as much as others needs. They would never consider listening to an adult tell them to do something they weren’t comfortable with because they have never been forced to do so.

We talk with our children about listening to their inner guidance. We also told them about the man driving around our neighborhood and we came from a calm place of information. Not a place of fear and exaggeration. I want them to listen to themselves first and foremost, before anyone else, including me.

I was almost abducted as a little girl. A man drove up to me as asked me to get in his car. He was exposing himself and even with that red flag, my hand was on the door handle! I knew not to get in, but I was so scared of what would happen if I didn’t obey the man. I was so scared and confused. I wanted to be a “good girl”. I was always praised because I listened so well and because I “respected adults”. (which translates into obeying by today’s cultural definition). I know he was telling me to do something, and I was trained to do what I was told – by every adult around me. Luckily some other kids came by and he drove off. Who knows if I would be here today if that hadn’t happened. I know first hand the conflicting message our culture sends to children.

Unschooling has made me rethink so much. Obedience and fear go hand in hand. When you can let go of fear, you aren’t so driven to force a child to obey as a parent who is living in a more trusting place. You may begin to see life through your child’s eyes and begin putting their needs in a place equal to your own. Children want to hear information from us about safety. It is important though that what we say and how we live go hand in hand. When we are sending mixed messages, information because confusing to children. Radical Unschooling has many long term benefits and safety is just one.



  1. Kristen Wheatley says

    Very well said Dayna! …and we are all glad that those other kids came along that day. As a child, I had the “Never Talk To Strangers” book and I always that it was odd because my parents talked to “strangers” all the time. As a parent, I have never been comfortable with that saying. My son is happy and self-confident. Respectful, but not obedient for obedience sake. I want him to be able to make his own choices, based on his well-being and not simply based on an imposed need to please me.

    I was in a Lowe’s once when a child went missing. With walkie talkies in hand, the store staff sprang into action and the child was found. I have never seen a parent more affectionate towards a child and I get teary eyed when I think of it. The mother handled it so well. With tears and hugs and kisses, she calmly told the child how scared she was when she thought she had lost him. She never scolded him or raised her voice. I have a feeling her son will not run off in a store again. Not because he’s afraid he will get in trouble, but because he understands it may not be safe, and he knows how much his mother loves him.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly. We can never protect our kids from the outside, only by allowing them the retain control over themselves and discussing issues with them.


  3. Great article. I so agree with it. As a child raised by idealistic parents who also embraced a new way of raising their kids, I have to make a side note: alternative parenting sure has it downsides. It works really great in theory, but in reality most parents haven’t got the skills to do it right, and than you push your children off the cliff into hell. Most of the time it aren’t the strangers in the street that are abusive, it are the parents themselves. Also the ones who want to do it different and think they are really loving. The lack of boundaries combined with the undeveloped brains that kids have, can create huge chaos. Abuse isn’t always violent, it’s seduction. It’s presented in a loving way. As parent we to often want to project our own believe systems on the child, really believing we are honoring the child and creating a better world, while in fact we simply mold them into an idealistic shape that we have of freedom. It’s even more scary when these parents become abusive, without even knowing it: the inner guidance of the child becomes messed up and their spirituality and intuition are manipulated in a huge way. They internalize the “free” “loving” believesystems of their parents, thinking it’s their own, while it’s just mindcontrol. Just wanted to share this. Love, from Holland

    • Mirri,

      I do not understand your comment and have actually never met a parent like you are describing. It certainly doesn’t sound like a parent living a Radical Unschooling life!

      Unschooling looks nothing like you shared about your own upbringing. It sounds like it was really difficult. I’m sorry to hear that.

      Thanks for visiting and thank you for your comment.


  4. AMEN! I COULDN’T AGREE MORE <3 I have also raised my son with these same principals and as a result we have been spared from power struggles and rebellion. As babies we are already born with an intrinsic system of self defense and preservation when raised to recognize and trust those instincts and follow our intuitions we are able to navigate with solid decisions and recognize dangers.

  5. Zipporah Bird says

    This was a topic I was just pondering, and was so glad to come across this article on your site. Thank you for providing such incredible information.

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