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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


How Can We Expect Kids to Obey?

I had a hilarious epiphany recently, while talking to a colleague about kids today. It dawned on me that parents and teachers expect kids to obey and do what’s right, when all we seem to celebrate in our culture is…well…outliers. Even rebels. Just consider the heroes or role models they admire when very young. It’s quite amusing.

A friend, David O’Conner, reminded me of this world kids grow up in today. How can we expect kids to listen to their parents when…

  • Tarzan lives half naked
  • Cinderella comes home at midnight
  • Pinocchio lies all the time
  • Aladdin steals for a living
  • Batman drives at 200 mph
  • Sleeping Beauty is lazy
  • Arial disobeys her father and wins
  • And Snow White lives with seven guys.

We shouldn’t be surprised when kids misbehave…they get it from their storybooks!

I’m just having fun with you.  Or…is this something we should think about?



  1. Scott Shaw on September 21, 2011 at 7:09 am

    I think that is very true, but also how can we expect kids to obey when their parents aren’t following and obeying either. At our camp we are finishing up 8 days with right at 1,000 campers from a local school. We run an outdoor environmental camp for their 6th graders each year. I will say the kids were great, the parents sat in the back and talked and laughed while we were trying to teach their kids something. I don’t know how many times I had to get on to parents for being to loud, yet they would yell at the kids when they talked or were disrespectful the least little bit. So how can we expect our kids to behave and be obedient when the very role models they are following aren’t helping?

    • Tim Elmore on September 27, 2011 at 7:34 am

      Very interesting point, Scott – the example parents set is so powerful. The “do as I say, not as I do” only works for so long!

  2. Adam Kolosik on September 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    I agree. Also, do we really want all of our kids to be perfect rule obeying people? Or do we want to create leaders that want to break rules of the status quo? I don’t have kids myself, so I can’t speak intelligently about this, but just a thought.

    • Tim Elmore on September 27, 2011 at 7:37 am

      Good point, Adam. There is a balance between blind obedience and willing submission to authority. The real foundation is a healthy respect for authority – this is the real challenge for parents to instill this in their children. It’s not an easy process but so necessary!

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How Can We Expect Kids to Obey?