Abandoning Control

17 May

{This post is part of a recurring series of thoughts about control and children.}

Many parents unsuccessfully try to control their children in small ways at first, such as selecting their clothes instead of letting them choose what to wear, asking them not to slouch on the couch while they’re watching TV, making them eat their vegetables, and on and on. At the time, this seems innocent enough and we do this because we think we are teaching better behavior and practical life skills as well as looking after their health. However, even though the child probably accepts the fact their parent knows more than they do, the child most likely perceives it as control… especially if the child challenges the request and the parent responds with the all too common response, “Because I told you so!” To any bright and independent child, this won’t sit well. She/he may either challenge it passively by sulking and uttering insults under their breath or in the extreme sense, by running away. Even the important long term issues, such as telling them who they can hang out with, insisting they practice the piano, or correcting impolite behavior get put in the same category and may become challenged as well if they are perceived as control attempts. This is where many, many daily battles occur.

We can lead them if we are willing to abandon the idea of control; it simply doesn’t exist. This becomes our illusion. Although control is a functional part of the dynamic in a parent child relationship I have experienced that most parents find a balance point through open discussion and willingness to change. It is not as hard as it may seem.

Please check back with me on 5/22/2012 for more on this topic! Until then, feel free to let me know if you have any questions or thoughts.

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