Alyssa Wermers, LCSW

Play Therapy Services * Dacono, CO

The gift? of obedience

Ella Enchanted, a story about love, friendship, blended families, fairy godmothers, and the hardships that life just can’t help but put on us.  Oh to live in a world where fairy godmothers present people with gifts such as happiness, kindness, love, and obedience. They all sound perfect, right?

So often I hear parents tell me they just want their children to be obedient…just do what they say, follow directions, listen! It’s way too easy to think about what we want in these broad, general terms. Just ask Ella. Even her mother wanted Lucinda to take back the gift of obedience she was given at birth. Poor Ella, given the gift that so many parents wish their children had. Just what did Ella’s gift of obedience look like? If someone said...”go away,” away Ella would march. When asked how she felt, Ella would have to tell them, even if she didn’t want to. Ella was embarrassed, lost friendships, taken advantage of, and struggled to control so many aspects of her life. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Obedience in a gray world is dangerous. We expect children to follow directions, and then when they follow directions that we don’t agree with (maybe their friend told them to do something) we shout “Would you jump off a bridge if they told you to?” We want kids to always do what we say, and do what their teacher says, but when _______ tells them what to do, we tell them they need to think more! So many stipulations – no wonder kids can’t keep it straight. Are they supposed to blindly follow or always so no? Maybe it doesn’t have to be so black and white.

It wasn’t black or white for Ella. She wanted so badly to marry Prince Char. But Ella also knows if she marries Prince Char, the kingdom will be in danger because of her curse of obedience. What an emotional whirlwind to be caught in! When she is ordered to marry Prince Char, Ella wills herself stronger than ever to defy this order, because she knows she has to protect the kingdom. She thought of the world greater than herself, and this heroic act breaks her curse. Obedience doesn’t help us develop empathy, compassion, or a sense greater than ourselves. It is actually empathy, compassion, and a sense greater than ourselves that allows us to be “obedient” when the time is right.