Well put. I really liked this post on obedience at Starry Sky Ranch. It’s a topic I’ve been pondering quite a bit recently and lucky me some great writing is being done on the subject as other moms wrangle with the same issue.
We need a balance between liberty and obedience or we risk becoming arrogant. Scripture praises the teachable spirit. One can only possess teachability when one is humble and acknowledges that he can benefit from the wisdom of others. How to become humble? Br Ignatius Mary tells us that, “In St Benedict’s 12 Steps to Humility, the very first step is obedience. Obedience can be possible without love, but love cannot exist without obedience. Obedience is the foundation from which all other virtues are built.” Jesus Himself said that He came not to do His own will but that of His Father. He did not pursue His own agenda. Yet so often we presume that it is necessarily better for us to do so.
So yes, I do believe it is a great virtue for children to do their tasks out of obedience even if they do not always feel personally motivated. I would say the child who can do so with a happy heart is well on his way to mastering himself. Having done that, I can imagine very little that he cannot then do. Obedience does not weaken his will, it harnesses it and puts it completely within his command. It ensures that he is not driven by desire but that his actions are guided by higher principles. It inspires little exchanges like the one I overheard in the kitchen the other night when our newly 6yo, while unloading the dishwasher, explained that he was not just doing dishes but that he was putting “Hands to work, and hearts to God.” That’s what it is all about after all. We do all (obeying too) for the glory of God which is always a much better motivation than personal preference.