Should you thank your kids when they obey you?
“Come here to Mommy. Thank you.” “Put your toys away. Thank you.” “Don’t touch that. Thank you.”
Why do you thank people? Usually when they have done you a favour or done something nice for you, right?
Is obedience a favour or a duty?
What does the Bible say?
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord.” Ephesians 6:1
That sounds like a command to me, not an option or a favour.
Obedience is a child’s duty, the minimum requirement for a good relationship between parent and child.
So, should you be thanking them for it?
I don’t think so, and here’s why:
It subtly undermines your authority as a parent and makes you subservient to the child. Today’s parenting shies away from authority, but God expects parents to command their households after them. (Genesis 18:19)
In teaching respect for your authority you are teaching respect for God’s authority.
Thanking your child for obedience can also create an expectation of needing to be thanked for common duty. There’s a danger kids will think the world owes them and that by showing up to work they are doing their boss
Not thanking your kids for obedience is realistic. Their future boss is not going to thank them for showing up at work each morning. That’s the minimum requirement expected of them.
A big reason you thank your children for obedience is you feel bad expecting it. You don’t want your kids to hate you or be displeased with you and so you try to make sure they are never unhappy with you.
Time to adjust your thinking. Expecting obedience is not wrong. Get used to the idea that sometimes you will not be at the top of your kids’ “favourite people list”.
Give your kids realistic praise, positive reinforcement without gushing over them or praising overly much:
Doing this shows your appreciation for your child’s obedience and builds their self-esteem, all while maintaining your position of authority. It’s a win-win!
This doesn’t mean you can’t ever thank your kids for being obedient, but avoid doing it in the moment.
Do it when saying goodnight or cuddling on the couch, “I really appreciate your obedience,” or, “I’m proud of you for choosing obedience. It’s the safest way.”
(Of course, this is provided the child is old enough to understand. If not, “Well done,” in the moment is sufficient.)
This may lead to some meaningful conversations that will cement your training and bind your hearts together.
And that’s what parenting is all about.
What are your thoughts? Did I miss anything? How do you show appreciation for your kids’ obedience?