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Obedience

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I read recently on a blog that to teach your kids obedience makes everything easier.? It said there that if you teach them unquestioning obedience, that they will go about the task you set before them without complaining. I think this is a brilliant idea for parents. It would make a parent’s job so much easier if their child always obeyed without questioning.

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Something in my conscious tweeks at this concept though. There was a study done in 1974 called the Milgram Experiment. It tested people’s obedience levels.

“The experiments began in July 1961, three months after the start of the trial of Nazi war crimials, Adolf Eichmann?in Jerusalem. Milgram devised the experiments to answer this question: “Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them all accomplices.” -Wikipedia

From this experiment, Milgram wrote an article named “The Perils of Obedience.”

“I set up a simple experiment at Yale University to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist. Stark authority was pitted against the subjects’ [participants'] strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects’ [participants'] ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not. The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation.”

These participants were simply following orders, obeying, without questioning. This creeps me right out! Now, I know my job as a parent would be easier if I taught my children to obey without questioning. But does this set them up for ambivalent obedience later on in life?

I’ve been thinking that unquestioned obedience may be appropriate at a young age, but as a child grows up, I believe they must be permitted to ask the question “Why?” Without this freedom of thought, the risk of duplicating the Holocaust escalates.

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Dear readers, what are your thoughts on this subject?