Saturday, June 8, 2013

The danger of being the obedient kid

We all have seen that kid.

He does all the school work and never eats from the canteen because the mother does not like it. (For the sake of gender equality, I will use “she” for the next sentences) She never buys a dress that is not approved by the father and she never cries thinking of the shoes that the next door neighbor has got for her birthday. She is happy with what she has.

It is the dream of every parent to raise an obedient kid. Even if the kid is nasty, parents wish he/she was obedient and it is not exaggeration if I say that such nasty kids have at least once heard his/ her mom saying “Look at that kid, he listens to his parents and never fusses around like you do. Look around and learn how to behave”

It is true that obedient kids make lives easier for the parents but for the kid, it can be a trap in the long run. Having only lived on this planet for quarter of a century, my assumptions may be wrong, but still, it is good to raise a voice.

For me, raising an obedient kid is like raising a kid inside a box. Simply, the kid has to fit in the box that his/her parents have created to be called obedient. If the kid tries to jump out of the box or at least tries to set one foot out of the box, many parents tend to believe that the kid is going to be out of control and somehow try to get the kid back inside the box. Some parents succeed and some parents do not.

So what is the danger of raising a kid inside a box? 

Well, you kill the independence and tell him that he is not good at taking decisions. At a very early age, a child does not know what is good and what is bad. So, it is OK to tell him what is good and what is bad, nevertheless, as parents, I think we should be very tactful to understand the thin line between telling things to kids and controlling them.  If your kid listens to you and if you call him very obedient, as a parent, I think you should worry a little bit about his/ her future.

Obedient kids are usually silent, seldom cry for things like toys, hardly fight with other siblings and most importantly speak less of their needs/likes.  Sometimes, they want so many things, but keep silent because it is not nice to nag. Such kids are happy with what they have or else, they are too conscious of the image they have as the obedient kid.

 If such kids break out of the good  box (that parents have created) and cry endlessly till they get that car,  the” obedient kid” label would be lost and they would be just another member in the nasty gang of kids. So, my point is, just for that “obedient kid” label, children might be emotionally trapped in the box created by their parents. In another words, in many circumstances, obedient kids are controlled by their parents rather than the whims and fancies of the kid himself.

When the obedient kid finds himself in the school, he slowly pulls himself away from the parental control. It might happen intentionally or unintentionally, but nobody can stop the psychology of the kid being affected by the day-to-day activities at the school. For the nasty kid, school can be a fun experience where he gets to have fun with others, but the obedient kid might secretly look for another force that can control him/her in the school.

For him, listening to parents and doing what they like is life. They are used to being rewarded materially, verbally or mentally for being obedient and it is not surprising to find such kids stay obedient at the school too. They listen to teachers, never eat during classes, do all the work the teachers assign and never associate the fun gang in the class who talks about the 12th boy friend of the prettiest girl in the next class. As a reason, the obedient kid will get high grades, secure a good reputation in the school and the parents & teachers both would be happy.

While all the people are happy about the kid, hmm, well, let us call him an adult now, he might have become a silent victim of obedience. For example, the obedient adult may be a top performer as a team member because he listens to what the leader says. He will try his level best not to hurt the other members of the team because his parents have taught him hurting other people is bad. (Being an obedient kid, such advice is etched hard into his brains). However, when promoted to the role of a Team Leader, he might have a hard time leading because there is no controlling force above him.

In another universe, an obedient kid might be the most messed up adult because he/she does not know how to stand for himself and take decisions that reflect his needs and wants. Sometimes, the obedient kid might need a controlling force throughout his/her life and if not, he/she might run astray. If the controlling force is white, the consequences will be white too. However, the matters might get worse if the force is black. As the obedient kid is raised to obey, the danger lies in the fact that he/she might let anyone to control their lives. Understanding what is good and what is bad alone can also be a taxing task for such individuals because being obedient kids, most of such kids loose the opportunity to associate the so called bad people and learn how to tackle them.

For the former obedient kid, human relationships are all about obeying others and not hurting them. For example, such an obedient kid will say yes to a company trip that falls on his brother’s wedding just because he feels he should obey the boss. The situation can get worse if such an obedient individual gets caught up between two or three controlling forces with different intentions.

Everything will be fine until the obedient adult realize that he/she has been controlled by everyone around them. I have known a few individuals who have been very obedient kids and later have changed into very different individuals when they have realized this hard truth. Some of them had realized it too late so that even though they want to distance themselves from the controlling forces, they are not in a position to do so.
I’m not a parent yet; therefore, I’m not sure where the thin line which separates obedient kids from the ones who are “not-so-obedient-but-knows-how-to-be-independent” lies.

 If anyone locates it, please let me know in the comments.


  1. I remember the days you used to write that Sinhala blog. You must have your own reasons to switch over to English.

    Sinhala blogsphere is not in a crisis; yet, it has lost many of it's finest writes. I understand,maintaining two separate blogs may not be an option for you, but,all I want to say is we - Sinhala blog readers, miss posts like this and writers like you.

    Most of us can communicate in English, but there is something magical about Sinhala. May be it's in my blood, may be I'm just home sick, whatever the reason is, I just feel home, when I read it in Sinhala. Well, if the truth to be told, I tried my luck with Colombo elite class, and felt like I don't belong there.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those "Sinhala only" guys. I'm just a common stray dog, who lives in exile and miss the place I grew up. What say you? :)

  2. Oops, forgot to comment about the topic. Been, there done that, and had my fair share. One of the best skills I learned over the years is, how to say "NO" in a diplomatic way.

  3. Hey Tomiya,

    Glad to know that there are people who still remember that I was writing a Sinhala blog ;)

    Well, I wrote this post and was thinking whether I should write a similar post in Sinhala. Now I think, may be I should.

    Thanks for all your compliments and it is kind of encouraging to know that readers miss posts like this.

    Talking about the lost writers : Yes, there are fine writers in the Sinhala blogsphere now, but I do miss the old Sinhala blogsphere during 2008-09.I still believe that it was the golden era of blogging and the initiatives and fights which took place during those times have shaped the blogsphere that many novice writers experience today.

    Yeah, it is true about Sinhala. I have studied in English and English has been my working language for more than 7 years now. But still,Sinhala is the language that runs in my blood, yes it is magical!!

  4. Saying "no" is one of the skills that matter a lot in today's world and great to know that you have mastered the art :) congratulations on your achievement!

    Besides that, it is great to find that there is at least one another person who can say "been there, done that" to the content of the post. I have seen many -so-called-obedient-people messing up their lives because of the secret controlling mechanism that hides itself within the good virtue of obedience and seems I'm not the only one who has seen and experienced it.

    Thank you for your valuable comment Tomiya