Who’s ruling the household?

Provided by Parenting Power

When we are presenting to audiences of 200+ or talking with individual coaching clients, one thing we hear more often than we would expect is,

“My child won’t let me…”

Many times, without anyone actually realizing it is happening, children are ruling the home. The children have the power and the parents, while not happy about it, throw up their hands, shrug their shoulders and go along with it.

Example 1:

The toddlers won’t sit at the table and will only stay put if screens are out and the parents can shovel food into gaping mouths so that everyone eats. Then, after watching a few of their favourite shows, the youngsters won’t go to sleep and are up for hours. Everyone is exhausted.

Example 2:

Rather than asking for permission, your teens tell you where they’ll be and when they’ll be home. It feels like any control you once had is suddenly gone.

No matter the age, it is easy to slide into a reversal of power. In her book, 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do, Amy Morin asks:

Does your child have too much power?

There’s a big difference between empowering your child to make healthy choices and giving him too much power. It can be hard to know when that line is crossed. Do you answer yes to any of the following points?

  • I struggle to enforce the rules I set for my child
  • I give my child an equal vote in the choices I make for my family
  • I seek my child’s opinion on adult-related decisions
  • I bribe my child to get him to comply
  • I sometimes ignore behaviour problems because I know it won’t do any good to speak up

It can be tricky to walk the line between teaching our children that they have the power to effect change in their own lives, and handing over adult-sized responsibilities to our kids. We need to give them power in age-appropriate ways, while retaining a clear sense of family hierarchy wherein the parents are in charge of the way the family runs and the kids have the power to choose their behaviour and the resulting consequences.

Rules and structure provide kids with the safety to experiment with choices and learn from consequences. As Amy Morin explains,

Giving kids too much power hurts them in several ways:

  • Lack of self-control
  • Increased health risks
  • Increased mental-health risks
  • Higher rates of risky behaviour

Bottom Line

Kids need parents to parent so that they can get on with the work of being kids. We empower ourselves as parents by taking one step at a time and getting clear on our expectations and consequences. At Parenting Power, we help families to do that every week and we are here to help you.

Every parent can encourage their kids to know their own power and to exercise it over the choices they are making and the consequences they experience. In addition, we need to get clear on our own responsibilities and the choices we are making for our families.

If you find yourself in constant power-struggles, ask a friend for help or reach out to us and we’ll share some tools to get yourself back on the right track.

This week, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is in control of our household?
  • Do I sometimes feel out of control here?
  • Where is one area in which I need to re frame the hierarchy in our home?

Learn more from Julie and Gail at parentingpower.ca!