Kim shares her life experience with big servings of enthusiasm, hope, and joy on her site, Too Darn Happy. She offers fresh perspectives, practical advice, and a challenge to find happiness in all circumstances. You can also connect with her at @kimahall, facebook, and pinterest.
Power-junkie kids and power-addicted parents
If you are a parent, you have probably seen that face above.
Especially after starting what you thought was an innocent discussion.
And then limping away after being verbally mauled.
I wish I had a magical solution—an Open Sesame!—that would enable effortless, comfortable and productive conversations with your loved ones, all the time.
However, I have some suggestions that might help.
Realize it takes two to tango
We had one child for whom power was her personal coin of the realm. Constant fighting was the norm because we didn’t recognize both Leslie’s need for control and our power addiction. The most helpful resource we ever found was the book Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson.
An excerpt from her site:
I have never seen a power drunk child without a power drunk adult real close by. Adults need to remove themselves from the power struggle without winning or giving in. Create a win/win environment.
Power struggles create distance and hostility instead of closeness and trust. Distance and hostility create resentment, resistance, rebellion (or compliance with lowered self-esteem). Closeness and trust create a safe learning environment. You have a positive influence only in an atmosphere of closeness and trust where there is no fear of blame, shame or pain. (End of excerpt.)
We were power drunk parents: You will do what I say, young lady!
Fight. Take away stuff.
Rinse, repeat ad nauseum.
Learn to listen
Leslie would call me out, justifiably so, if she felt my attention was wandering (and here I thought I was just being the good mommy multi-tasker :-)). Her love language is Quality Time, and she requires absolute, full-on attention when we talk. However, since she has always been a busy child who couldn’t sit still (ADD, anyone?), I have had to get used to her doing the same things she calls me out for.
I used to stop mid-conversation to catch her not listening—oops, I mean to check for clarity—and she always, always was, and could repeat back what I said almost verbatim. Having bruised us both over this power game, I now assume the positive, that she is listening.
Sometimes you get so carried away with being right and following the rules that you lose sight of what is most important: building relationships with your children. If you do not first build a foundation of trust, you will not get to hold those conversations that give you an opportunity to encourage, nurture, and provide guidance. To quote a speaker my husband once heard: Rules without relationships lead to revolt.
I encourage you to learn to let go, give over control as appropriate, and build those relationships. It is well worth the effort!
Question: Are you a power addicted parent? Do you have power junkie kids? Let’s chat!