How Can I Make Them Obey? (Titus Two Saturday)

Welcome to Titus Two Saturdays (TTS) at the MOB Society!

Real Refreshment for Real Moms...a Saturday Series from the MOB Society

We know so many of you are just out there in cyber land, desperately needing an older mama to come alongside you and help you figure out how to love your husband well, serve your children, and take care of the responsibilities that come along with being a woman.

Because there seems to be a shortage of godly women stepping up to this role, we decided to bring together a team of amazing women willing to share their lives with those of us in the throes of young motherhood.

This week’s Question:

“I have 4 boys, ages 10yrs to 5yrs old. I am having to micromanage everything for them. If I tell them to get dressed for school, I end up having to find missing shoes, track down pants, and remind them twenty times to get dressed. They literally never follow through with anything I’ve told them to do because they are so easily distracted. Two of them have been diagnosed ADHD, but the other two are just as distractible. How do I get obedience and follow through with instructions without having to repeat myself so many times and having to do half the work myself?”

Jan Skaggs

Be encouraged—the Lord knows just how you feel because he has distractible, disobedient children, too! This scenario played out in our home a hundred times until my wise Titus 2 friend pointed out that I needed to exercise a bit of tough love. “Let them fail.” Those words changed our family!

First—pray. For your self-image in Christ (your worth does not depend on perfect children!), courage, wisdom, self-discipline, creativity, patience, perseverance and a sense of humor to rise above the immediate chaos and to invest in the long-term.

Second—enlist help. A strong male voice will have the authority needed to teach your boys about respect. If you do not have a loving husband who will “take charge” in certain instances, ask other male role models for help. Coaches, teachers, Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, scout masters. Who are the men in your boys’ lives? They can be powerful allies. And if you are a single mom, remember that God has promised to be a “husband to the husbandless and a father to the fatherless.” You have divine resources!

Third—communicate. Call a family meeting at a calm, quiet time when your boys are well fed and rested to discuss the needed changes. Set reasonable expectations for their ages. Lovingly point out ahead of time both the expected behaviors (get dressed on time) and the consequences for non-compliance (you will go to school in your underwear). Ask for their input and possible solutions. Kids can come up with the most creative ideas! If they “buy in,” the new system will work better. 

Fourth—stop. When your behavior changes, theirs will change eventually. Give an instruction and repeat it once. Quit doing their work. By ceasing to micromanage, you will allow your boys to experience the natural consequences of their choices not to follow through (you might give their teachers a heads-up that they may be coming to school without shoes a time or two). This requires courage! Remember, it’s not a reflection on you as a parent!

Expect push-back and non-compliance. We all resist change—taking responsibility for ourselves is hard work. But keep the long-term goal in mind—training boys to become men who listen to and follow Jesus. One step at a time!

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Julie Sanders

Oh, friend, as our son turns 17 this weekend, I am still right there with you in this process! As a teacher and boy-mom, I’m convinced we aren’t born knowing how to focus. Instead, we’re prone to distraction.

First, ask yourself if you want to raise a man or a man-sized boy; parent now towards that end. Your tribe needs you to give them the environment, confidence, and consequences that come with follow through or lack of it. 

In your lifestyle, model self-care; as they grow up, the standard you set will serve them well. Create a peaceful environment that your boys will learn to value and desire. Give them an appetite for the fruit of follow through.

Help them be confident in their ability to be responsible by affirming them out loud when they follow through. Don’t do for them what they can do for themselves. Our boys need clear, simple instructions. Resist the urge to read a long list, especially orally. Give them what they can manage, and know that each boy’s capacity is unique. Acknowledge their strength as they grow in responsibility, and give them space and grace to progress from boy to man.

Finally, refuse to shame them when they fail; doggedly determine to shape them. Love them enough to let them feel the consequences of irresponsibility. This is so hard, because we want to rescue our fellas. Choose times of rescue carefully. We prepare them for life as a man when we let them count the cost of being a slave to distractions. 

Raise your boys with the goal of independent manhood in mind. Inspire them to practice and believe in their ability to be men who follow through. And decide right now that it’s okay to go to school with two different shoes! ;)

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  • Summer Neal

    This is so helpful. I can definitely implement some of this advice. Other parts of it I would like to see in action. I am so thankful that y’all have decided to do this. As a caregiver to an elderly and chronically ill mom and a single mom it is so lonely and frustrating with no one to show me how.

  • Cat @ MaryMarthaMama.com

    So thankful for these mamas who have been there and are sharing! Our 3 year old is going through quite the little phase of disobedience and my husband and I have had some days that we just feel defeated so I love the reminder to “rise above the immediate chaos and to invest in the long-term”. Just last night he and I had a little pow-wow after our son went to sleep so we could decide on how to address this issue head on and we’ll be making some changes today.

  • godlyindianmom
  • Julie_Sanders

    Oh I love reading what Jan shares about this today! These are nuggets that we can use with our boys from cradle to cap n’ gown!