|EQI.org Home | Obedience | Listening vs
A basic difference between obedience and cooperation is who sets the goals and is the goal a mutually desirable one? For example, if a police officer tells someone to do something they do not want to do, it is not helpful to say "He was not cooperating." This devalues the nature of true cooperating.
Here is something else to consider when trying to figure out if it is obedience or cooperation. What is the motivation behind or underlying the behavior of the person doing the "obeying" or "cooperating"? If a parent is ordering a child to do something and there is a clear threat of punishment if the child doesn't do it, then the main motivation is probably fear. On the other hand, when two people are cooperating, then the motives of both parties are more likely to be desire to achieve the common goal.
So so far we can say that there are differences between who is setting the goal and who desires the goal. Another issue is the relationship between the two people.
In an equal relationship two people have equal input into both setting the goal and influencing the other's behavior. Obviously, there is an imbalance of power between a police officer and a young person, for example. And in the legal, physical and psychological make up of parent-child relationships there is also a large power inequality. As pointed out in one article by a mother, cooperation is a "give and take" thing. But when there is an imbalance of power, or an abuse of power, there is no give and take, no compromises. There is just "do it or I will hurt you."
I expect that the majority of parents around the world would prefer to have more of a truly cooperative relationship with their chidlren, and that the only parents who want basically absolute power and unquestioned obedience are those who themselves felt over-controlled as children and who are now trying to fill their unmet emotional needs to feel powerful and in control - and possibly to feel "respected" - but I discussed on the respect pages, this kind of relationship is actually not one based on respect at all. It is based on fear. And again, most parents do not want their children or teens to be afraid of them. Instead they would prefer that their children, especially the older ones, take what they say into consideration because the parent has earned their respect over the years of their relationship.
By the way, with a gun I could easily and instantly get someone to obey me. But without the gun it would take much more time to win their respect and cooperation.
Other EQI.org Topics:
|Disobeying the Taxi Driver in
The first time I was consciously aware that I chose to disobey someone was when I was traveling in Indonesia. I was in a taxi looking for a low priced hotel on the island of Bali. I had been in Indonesia long enough to become suspicious of anyone who works in the tourist industry there, especially taxi drivers. more
So when the taxi driver stopped his car in front of a hotel and ordered me to "Wait here, " I thought about it for a few seconds, then decided to disobey him and follow him into the hotel to see for myself what was going to happen. I wasn't even sure exactly what I was afraid of, but my instincts, combined with my experiences in Indonesia and with taxi drivers, told me to disobey.
As I recall, the main thing I was worried about is that he was going to take me to a hotel which served his interests, not mine. By that I mean a hotel which would pay him a commission for brining a guest. It would very likely not be the lowest price hotel in the area. In fact, when I did follow the taxi driver into the hotel and listened to the discussion, I could tell there was some kind of negotiation or discussion going on concerning prices. My suspicions seemed to be confirmed and the price given to me was higher than I wanted to pay. The taxi driver was pressuring me to stay, but I was already feeling tricked and untrusting so I definitely was not going to let myself get talked into something my feelings were against. I asked the driver to take me to another hotel where I did the price negotiations myself, and I was satisfied with my choice.
So this true story helps show one important difference between obedience and cooperation. The difference is: Whose interests are being served? Or whose needs are being met?
This reminds me of one of the articles I have copied about raising children. A mother is suggesting that when a parent "asks" a child or teen to help bring in the groceries and the response is "When I get to the next level .. (unfinished)
the Dentist's Office
The question of whether or not there is a common goal came to me very clearly at the dentist's office one day. He told me to "open wider." He didn't ask me. He told me. I am one who very much dislikes being told what to do. Yet I willingly did what he told me to because I had the same goal as he did, which was to get my teeth fixed.
|Confusing Cooperation, Obedience and
Below are three articles. Look at these articles and see if you notice how the following words are used to all mean basically the same thing:
Notice also how the words "request" and "ask" are used to mean command or order. In other words, there is no option not to do what is told -- or at least no option without a punishment.
Here is one example from one of the articles.:
Here is another example: "When Jenny is asked to get on her pajamas..."
These 3 articles are all from the website "biblicalparenting.info" This reminds one that one of the 10 commandments is to "honor" your parents. But usually people also think of the word honor in this context as "obey."
Here are the articles. Some of the key words have been color-highlighted.
Compliance vs Obedience
Some parents say, "I can
usually get my children to do what I say
eventually." Parents sometimes think that obedience is the same as compliance. When
you say to your son, "Please leave the computer and
help me bring the groceries in from the car," and he
says, "As soon as I get to the next level,"
that's not obedience.
When parents give an instruction
but children don't want to comply or it's not
convenient for them, sometimes they need to learn to
"obey first and then we'll talk about it."
This emphasizes obedience.
SH - This article was actually titled "Teaching Cooperation" but it is about as far from true cooperation as I can imagine.
We all want cooperation from our children and many parents are
disappointed when they don't get it, but do we take time
to teach it? Cooperation involves give and take. As parents, we are
more than willing to give, expecting that our children
will give sometimes too. Unfortunately, some children
don't know how to give; they only take. Any negotiation
has to have something in it for the child or he won't
work with you, and if he does agree to work, he'll do so
with a bad attitude. That's not cooperation, that's
|A Christian Mother Talks About
Obedience -vs- Cooperation
The vast majority of
religions in this world stress the importance of
I cannot MAKE myself be good. I've
tried. I'm a decent person, but I make mistakes just like
everyone else. I am a black sheep.
|Helping vs Obeying and Love vs Fear
A mother left this post on a discussion board:
I'm not sure about this logic. There may be some truth in it but I don't think fear of losing the bond with the other person is the main motivation. Instead, I suspect the primary motivation for doing what someone you love wants you to do is simply that you know they will feel good when you do it. For example, if my partner says, "Could you get some ice cream when you go to the store?", I do it because I know she will like it, not because I am afraid of what will happen to our relationship if I don't.
I would also say that if a child is afraid of breaking the emotional bonds by not obeying, then there is not what the psychologists call a "secure attachment bond." In other words, the child does not really feel secure. Rather, he or she feels just the opposite: insecure. A child who feels truly loved, on the other hand, will feel secure because they know the love is unconditional or at least close enough to it for a highly level of security.
In fact, this is the basis of security: feeling loved in a deep way so there virtually no fear of rejection or abandonment. If you happen to find someone who is very secure, ask them, for example, if they could ever imagine a circumstance when their parents would have thrown them out of the house. Chances are good they will say, no, they can't even imagine any such situation. Compare this to people who hear things like "As long as you live in my house you will follow my rules," and who have been told to leave home because they did not follow one of their parents' rules.
I have interviewed hundreds of people about things like this and the patterns are clear. People who grew up in homes where they lived in fear are without question more insecure as adults. So even the fear of "breaking the emotional bonds" is a fear which is based on, and causes, insecurity.
If a child or teen really feels loved by his parent, then I agree they are much more likely to do something the parent asks them to do. But they will do it willingly, not out of any kind of fear. More specifically, they won't be afraid of what will happen if they don't do it. Let's look at a situation described in one of the 3 articles on this page where the author confuses and interchanges words like cooperation and obedience. In one example she writes about a parent who says, "Can you help me bring in the groceries?"
If a teen was just about to leave the house and is already running late for something important to him, he might say, "I was just going out to do so and so, and I am afraid I am already going to be late." An understand parent will say something like, "Oh, it's ok then. No problem." Or there might be some "give and take." A mother might say for example, "Could you just take this one bag then because it is the heaviest one?" The teen will probably be happy to do that since A) He would feel a little guilty if he didn't help at all, and B) He will feel good knowing that he did help out his mother. The mother would probably also feel guilty if he took a lot of time to bring in several bags, but she feels appreciative that he helped her with the heaviest one. So now everyone is happy.
It is still worth discussing, however, what the teen's primary motivation might be if he were to agree to take the heaviest bag. If it were primarily to avoid guilty feelings, I would call this a dysfunctional family. My partner came from this kind of family and now she is so overwhelmed by constant guilt it is truly debilitating for her. But if they teen were to be motivated say, 90 percent by knowing he will feel good after he helps his mother and only 10 percent by the thought that he will feel guilty if he doesn't, then I would say this is a psychologically healthy relationship.
|From a discussion board
I'm wondering what methods are
available/recommended for keeping a child under control,
or for getting them to listen to you? I guess this topic
segues into discipline as well, so I'm happy to hear
suggestions on that front.
I was like a dog -- I responded
best to positive reinforcement. Besides rewards, this
could include how I felt about myself and/or opportunites
for priveleges or special attention. Also known as
bribes. "If you behave and stay by me and don't
whine for candy while I'm grocery shopping, we'll stop at
the playground on the way home." "If you pick
up your toys, I'll read you a story." "That was
very brave of you to not make a fuss when the doctor gave
you a shot."
Even at a very early age, I
listened carefully to adults who talked to me like a
human being and tried to reason with me. "If you
leave your crayons on the floor, they'll get stepped on,
and then you won't have as many colors." "If
you eat your spinach, you'll be strong, and soon you'll
be able to go all the way across the monkey bars."
I was a very silly toddler ... I'd
listen to people, but I always found loopholes in the
rules. I wasn't trying to, I just took everything at
direct face value, so I didn't realize that I wasn't
doing what I was supposed to.
I was a very similar child to Fern,
but I think probably most children are, and would prefer
to have the opportunity to grow by responding to positive
reinforcement rather than negative correction.
Paraphrasing an Amazon review to
explain the premise of the book, the authors teach you
how to treat your child like a capable and worthy person,
when you may be treating them as irresponsible,
unimportant, or unlikeable. They first convince you to
stop criticizing your children for what they think or
feel, and to acknowledge how they might be feeling when
they tell things to you. Acknowledging feelings doesn't
mean giving your kids any leeway in their behavior - you
can be permissive with feelings whilst still being firm
on discipline. For example, instead of saying "You
shouldn't be mad at your brother, he's only three!"
you say "I can see that it makes you angry when he
messes up your things. But yelling is not allowed in our
house." or, "He's too young to understand how
special those are to you, so how can we keep your things
safe?" You let your child know you are paying
attention to how they feel, BEFORE you focus on solving
the problem. The second thing they emphasize is to make
correcting behaviour about the behaviour, and not about
the child. Instead of "Get your homework! You always
forget things!" you just say, "Homework needs
to go to school with you."
When I read this book I was struck
by how much of a crossover there was with the subject of
invalidation, an issue that was discussed on
globalchatter that I had never even heard about and which
affected me profoundly upon learning of its existence.
(Link to a page all about invalidation here:
http://eqi.org/invalid.htm.) To explain in these terms,
the book sets out to teach parents that invalidating
their child's feelings is where they have been going
wrong all along, and offers them lots of practical
suggestions on how to interact with their children in
ways that are respectful but firm.
Oh and one other thing - the techniques apply not only to children, but to everybody, and will work equally well with friends, family, partners and difficult colleagues
This was one of the most important
things I learned from the Montessori teachers I worked
with, and from interacting with the preschool kids. Don't
invalidate the child's needs - emotional and otherwise.
Love is the foundation of obedience. If the child
consistently feels that you have his best interests in
mind, he will listen, because he will be naturally afraid
of breaking the emotional bonds you've built up.
|Families and Common Goals
I was just thinking about why I would not want to judge Hillary Adams. I would not want her to feel judged. Because we have a common goal.
Then I thought about parents and kids/teens. Do they really have many common goals? Or did the parents pick the goals and then try to get the kids/teens to "cooperate"?
In a healthy family either the parents and children/teens select goals together freely and safely, ie no pressure or abuse of power and influence from either side, or the children/teens set the goals and the parents support that goal. But if the parents select the goals alone, there will most likely be ongoing problems.