Tag Archives: demands

How to Step Out of a Power Struggle

When we engage in power struggles with our children, it means we are invested in being right. When we must be right—”I’m the parent, I know best. You must do what I say”—the child is wrong and is left feeling powerless. The child then must fight back to preserve integrity; either that or the easy-going child submits again and again learning in the process to seek the approval of others to gauge her self-worth.

Engaging in a power struggle keeps the parent in the position of having to be right.

Backing down from the fight may feel too vulnerable for many parents. The parent expect the child to back down, to give up, to acknowledge being wrong — in other words, the parent expects the child to be the grown-up first.

Parents often feel at a loss when they don’t know what to do, when what’s “right” is not apparent. It feels weak and scary. But this place of doubt, the space where you just don’t know, where vulnerability lives, is a place of opportunity — one never found when holding on to being right.

This is your teachable moment, because you are present. Stepping out of the power struggle means your agenda is not dictating right or wrong. The problem comes when you allow this space of unknowing to fill you with frustration and fear — when you think you have to have the answer in order to maintain a power and control position with your child. Bertrand Russell once said that the trouble with the world is that stupid people are cock-sure and smart people are full of doubt!

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Doubt: It’s Pros and Cons

Doubt is something that drives us nuts as parents but can both serve us and undermine us. If you didn’t doubt what you were doing as a parent, you wouldn’t be a conscious parent. We all know parents who know what is right and what is wrong and nothing moves them from that mark. Many of us had a parent like that. It’s no fun. Doubt keeps you alive and wondering. Doubt keep you growing and learning as a parent. You would be a robot without it. That said, doubt can also cause immobilizing fear when it is so loud that we question everything we do. When you have been brought up to believe that everyone else is right and you are wrong, doubt looms largely over ever action and decision. It can leave you disarmed in relationship with your child, who has an easy target and can wear you down quickly with arguments and demands. But doubt can be your friend and if you see it this way, you may not get so stuck with it. What you want to go for is what feels right inside you, not what “everyone” is telling you is right. Practice listening to your gut feelings and try going with them. When something sounds or looks right because so many others say so, be willing to question your assumptions and your friends and relatives if it feels wrong. The best parenting comes from focusing on the quality of the relationship you have with your child. Relationship is different with every person you are in relationship with. It will be a strong relationship that your child learns the most from and is influenced by. So that relationship needs to be built on what feels right. read more