A family is a group of power-full people…

Ron’s Reading: Keep Your Love On: Connection Communication And Boundaries

One of the most common aggravations experienced by parents is the “power struggle”. It usually happens when the parent has to get to work or needs to finish dinner or help the child with their homework. Right in the middle of this urgent time, the child decides to exercise their will and demand a treat or refuse to put on their shoes or wants to argue about some topic they really don’t know anything about. Regardless of the circumstances, the outcome is two yelling, arguing, snorting, bug-eyed people who just want the other person to do what they want them to do. No fun for anyone!

Why does this happen so often in families? Danny Silk is one of my favorite authors and I recommend his books to many of the parents I work within family therapy or parenting workshops. In his book: “Keeping Your Love On: Connections, Communication & Boundaries” he shares how a family is a group of powerful people who are trying to learn how to live in powerful ways. He writes: “If you heard someone described as a powerful person, you might assume he or she would be the loudest person in the room, the one telling everyone else what to do. But powerful does not mean dominating. In fact, a controlling, dominating person is the very opposite of a powerful person. Powerful people do not try to control other people. They know it doesn’t work, and it’s not their job. Their job is to control themselves.”

The trick, for parents, is not to demand respect but to create a respectful environment where non-respect, talking back and control simply can’t exist. There just isn’t enough oxygen for those negative elements to survive. Learning how to be a powerful and responsible person is one of the most important tasks of parenting.

You can get more information (and read along with me) on Danny’s book here: Keep Your Love On: Connection Communication And Boundaries

 

Punishment is outdated…or is it?

Punishment is outdated…or is it it? How faith-based families discipline their children

By Ron Huxley, LMFT

One of the most frequently used methods of parenting is spanking. Shocking? Yes, but parenting polls continue to report that parents “fall back” to old habits of when they where parented. In the past, American society advocated for parents to spank their children. A sign of good parenting used to be if you spanked your disobedient child or not. Today, the American attitude is just the opposite. If a parent spanks their child, they are considered abusive and threatened to be reported to the authorities.

The reason for this shift in parenting methods is obvious: Too many parents spank out of anger and hurt their children. There is another reason for not spanking that is a lot more reasonable: it isn’t effective and there are so many other parenting tools that can be used. Long-term, negative outcomes of spanking is delinquency, substance abuse, and psychological problems.

Punishment and Discipline is not the same thing. Punishment refers to threatening, hitting, or using harsh treatment that might include prolonged isolation, humiliation and shaming behaviors. Discipline is about teaching or guiding children in the right direction so that they can be responsible people.

Christian parents use the verse, from the Bible, that “whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Proverbs 13:24. This verse has nothing to do with hitting children. It is all about guiding children and being a moral leader and example to them.

Another verse states: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4. Parents that use punishment do not produce children who feel happy and confident. It teaches them to be sneakier and models force as an answer to problems.

If parents today really thought about their own upbringing, they would remember that spanking didn’t help them. Many would tell stories that were terrifying and painful, emotionally and physically. Why use that method to parents our own children? Better to find tools that work.

Get a special report on the 4 Reasons Children Misbehave and how you can redirect your child to be responsible and fun to be around. Click here now!

Respect Your Parents…and Your Child

Respect Your Parents…and Your Child

By Ron Huxley, LMFT

Mutual respect based on the assumption of equality, is the inalienable right of all human beings. Parents who show respect for the child–while winning his respect for them–teach the child to respect himself and others. Equality in this sense is treating each person with respect and integrity, no matter what their age. This also leaves room for parents to be in charge and to set some non-negotiable rules and limits, but to do so in a respectful manner.

Family Meetings

family meetings for parenting success

A family meeting gives every member of the family a chance to express himself freely in all matters of both difficulty and pleasure pertaining to the family. The emphasis should be on “What we can do about the situation.” Meet regularly at the same time each week. Rotate the leader. Keep minutes. Have an equal vote for each member. Only bring those concerns to the family meeting, which are negotiable. Require a consensus, rather than a majority vote on each decision. Some family rules are non-negotiable. Perhaps explanations or reinforcement of a rule would be appropriate.

Have fun together and thereby help to develop a relationship based on enjoyment, mutual respect, love and affection, mutual confidence and trust, and a feeling of belonging. Instead of talking to nag, scold, preach, and correct, utilize talking to maintain a friendly relationship. Speak to your child with the same respect and consideration that you would express to a good friend.

How to Have a SAFER Home!

Fear destroys families and why you must make it “feel” safer

By Ron Huxley, LMFT

Fear is one of the biggest reasons for family power struggles and defiance in children. It shifts the atmosphere of the home and causes use to react instead of acting in a safe and sane manner toward one another. All families fight. You can create a S.A.F.E.R. H.O.M.E. to battle against problems instead of people you love.

Are you in a constant power struggle with your children? Feeling a little helpless to manage the continual arguments and competition between children in your home? Tired of yelling, bribing, and negotiating to get cooperation? Well here is a 9 step plan to help you create a “safer home”:

S = Stop what you are doing. Your probably reacting to the stress of the situation and making things worse. Take some time to…

A = Assess the situation, environment, mood and motivations of your child(ren). What are they doing? Why are they doing it? How are you handling it? Who is involved? Just notice for now…

F =Focus on one problem or priority to address. Don’t try to tackle all the issues. Try and address the core issue that affects the most people/variables. This will allow you to…

E = Empathize with your child’s feelings. State: “I can understand how you would feel this way or want to act in a certain way, however…”

R = Respond (versus reacting) by offering alternative solutions or asking for responses from the children to come up with the alternatives themselves. This activates all areas of the brain through empathy development (right brain and emotional centers of the brain) and logical thought (left brain and cause and effect areas of the brain)…

H = Help children with suggestions for things they could try if they cannot come up with their own or if they won’t do it. “Would you like some ideas? What if we do x or y?”…

O = Offer choices. Would you rather share the toy or find a new one? Brush teeth before or after putting on your pajamas? The more choices and the smaller they are spread out through the day the more compliance you will get. Choices mean power but only offer ones you can live with and be ready to…

M = Maintain your position when they go for that third choice you didn’t offer them. If they do this, you know you are playing a game that no one will win. You may have to be a broken record and repeat the choice two choices two times (this is important to only do it twice) and then…

E = Execute the choice everyone agreed to or take action if they can’t or won’t agree to one. You chose A or B. This is “do or die” when it comes to parenting. Be ready to stick to your choice and don’t back down. If you do, you give total control back to your child. The fight might be tough today but tomorrow it will be easier and easier the day after that until finally it will be a rare day that you have to fight it at all. Won’t that be nice and safe?

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Battle of Wills or Battle of Beliefs?

Many parents get into power struggles with their children over everyday tasks like homework, chores, bedtime, eating all their dinner, etc. This battle of wills can become a daily hassle that will wear out the most resilient parent.

In its extreme form, children can develop an oppositional defiant disorder which is characterized by negative, argumentative, disobedient, and hostile behaviors toward parents and authority figures. They refuse any guidance or direction from adults. Relationships turn into competitive matches where every interaction is geared toward the need to win. The subject of the argument no longer matters. The parent and child are armoring themselves to win the battle no matter what the topic. The reality is that parents can’t win every “battle”. That is exhausting! Research indicates that this battle creates even more oppositional behavior in children and the moral of the story ends up being that no one wins!

What Is Really The Problem?

The problem is not the behavior but the beliefs of the contestants in the power struggle. Instead of trying to change behaviors and win the battle of homework or chores, try to change the belief system and win over their heart. That can be difficult for the parent in the middle of a heated argument. It is even more difficult after dealing with defiant children for days, weeks, or months of non-stop fighting.

Parents are not prepared for tools of the heart that change belief structures. Most parenting tools focus on behaviors that attempt to mold children into obedient, submissive people. This is a perfect set up for oppositional defiant behavior to accelerate. Tools of the heart focus on changing oneself first and then work on creating a connection. It doesn’t confront the person. It confronts the beliefs that drive the person to act in opposition and defiant ways.

The Misunderstanding of Power in Relationships.

One of the beliefs that need to be addressed is the idea that in order to be powerful I always have to win. Not only do I have to win but you have to lose so that if you being hurt starts to the sign that I win. The child can get into the habit of hurting people, animals and destroying property to prove they have power. When the parent counters attack or overpowers the child in any way they reinforce this dysfunctional idea. The more realistic belief is that we can both be powerful by making appropriate choices and managing ourselves. Self-control is the ultimate example of power. The parent must model this in the home. The only thing you can guarantee complete control over is when “I manage me.” I cannot manage you 100% of the time. When I try to manage you, I set up a revenge mentality in our relationship. You will do what I want in this battle but you will look for ways to win the next battle.

Focus on Feedback.

Instead of an argument, we want to focus on feedback. Replace “you messages”, as in “you always” or “you never” or even “you are” with “me messages”, such as “here’s how this situation is affecting me”. Don’t hold up a mirror to child’s face to inform them of how “ugly” they are acting. Hold up the mirror to your heart and share what you are feeling. This can be a risky act, on the part of the parent, but vulnerability is what leads to intimacy and without an exposed heart there can be no heart to heart connection.

Questions are useful tools for parents even if you already know the answer. A dominating parent tells the child what to do or what they are not doing right. A parent who values responsibility provides lots of opportunities for the child to make choices. The parent allows the child to voice their needs with questions such as “what do you need in this situation?” or “what are you going to do about this problem?” Don’t be quick to jump in and solve the problem with the child. Let them tangle at bit at the end. You want their brains engaged and trained in solving their own problems.

Using questions help the parent and the child stay focused on the person, in the problem, instead of focusing on the problem in the person. This is an important distinction. Keep asking how your child is going to clean up the mess. You aren’t saying they are a mess but there is this mess of school grades or unclean rooms. If they don’t know to clean up their mess because they are used to the parent always tell them how to clean it up or clean it up for them, start giving them some ideas they can try. If they act like they don’t care about cleaning up the mess, give them choices that might be completely undesirable. “One choice might be to do all of your brother’s chores for a week to pay them back for breaking their toy. Would that be a way you can clean up this mess?” Of course, they don’t want to do that! The point is to get them engaged in this conversation to find a solution they would prefer. If they still refuse any responsibility for their actions, stay calm and wait this out. At some point, the child will want something from the parent and at that moment the parent can return to the mess that is still needing to be cleaned up. Re-ask the question of how they would like to clean up the mess. This teaches self-responsibility without ever breaking a connection with the child. You continually express your belief that they are powerful people who can make a good choice, if not today, then tomorrow or the day after that or the day after that until they finally learn to manage themselves well.

Do You Value Being Right Over Relationship?

If a parent insists on lecturing and using their authority in dominating ways then they are communicating that being right is more important that relationship. Relationships take time and this mess that the child has made can take as long as it needs to get cleaned up but it will get cleaned up. The value of learning responsibility and how to handle freedom and make good choices is more important than being right on this issue we are at odds with each other. Stubbornness is the hallmark of oppositional defiant behavior. Use this same energy to regulate your reaction to stand firm.

There are a lot of false beliefs in the parenting community that parenting educators perpetuate. We have put you in a difficult position and given you a difficult requirement that can set you up for failure. As a parenting educator, I apologize! Let’s learn together on how to build powerful people in intimate relationships with one another.

The Key to Cooperation is NOT What You Think It is…

Science backs up we have always known about human relationships: Attachment is the key to connection. Connection increases the likelihood of cooperation from family members. It doesn’t guarantee it. Nothing guarantees it. Not even threats or punishments.

People who have a heart to heart connection want to please one another. They think about others first and can literally feel pain if they hurt or disappoint others. This does not happen when there is no connection or it is weakened.

Somehow parents got the idea that compliance was the goal of parenting. We want obedience because we want to protect our children and teach them about life. This has moved from center to focus on children doing what we tell them to do because we said so! Discipline has become punishment and parents idea of self-worth has been tethered to children’s behavior. It is time to re-focus on connection and not compliance.

Caution: Don’t read this next section if you don’t like God! 

The simplest way to a child’s heart is to pray with them. That’s right if you pray for your child both you and your child have to open that rusty door of your heart and a connection can be made.

Rene Brown, in her book, “The Gifts of Imperfection” explains this well: “We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection.”

When I interview Christian parents about how often they pray for a family, the answer is rarely or never. Why, when this is a basic tool of the Christian home? I believe it is fear and mistrust that builds up over time and the lie of compliance as the goal of parenting takes over the home.

Try asking your child what he or she wants prayer for before they go off to school. In order for them to tell you, they have to risk opening up their heart to do so. If you honor that gift of insight and pray for them, you can follow up at the end of the day on how things turned out. This can lead to more prayer together and more intimacy in the relationship. Connection struggles solved!

If your child doesn’t trust you to tell you what they want prayer for, tell them you will pray for them anyway and speak into them what you already know about their challenges with friends and math assignments and sibling conflicts. Don’t use this to control. Genuinely express your desire for their success and wellness. You will be rewarded with a stronger attachment and greater cooperation.

Parents believe that it is their job to teach children how to respect limits. More importantly, the parents job is to teach children how to understand limits. The aim of parenting is to raise responsible, fun-to-be around children who know how to manage themselves.

Learn more power parenting tools with Ron Huxley’s parenting book: 

Love and Limits: Achieving a Balance in Parenting