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

by Danny Silk

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 circumstance, 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 with in 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 simple can’t exist. Their 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

(affiliate link). 

What else is Ron reading? Click here to see…

Bossy Children

by Ron Huxley, LMFT

Are you tired of power struggling with your children? Do they believe they are the parent and boss their siblings around (and maybe you too)? Many children have a natural leadership tendency that need parents to direct in a healthy, non-annoying direction. 

Try playing a game I call “Follow the Leader” to create more democratic relationships. Invite children to take turns leading the way or overseeing an activity to give them more focused leadership skills and then allowing the natural, low energy followers a chance to be in charge. If you are taking a walk around the block or going into the store, have one child direct the rest of the group or spice it up and have them walk in a “funny way” that everyone has to emulate. It’s goofy but it will reign in those high energy children by making a daily challenge fun. Perhaps the leader can choose a song to sing in the car on the way to school or pick the board game for the night. Choose a day of the week that each child gets to pick out the book for bed time or the desert after dinner. After a while each child will know what day is there day and the group will manage itself (instead of mom or dad playing mediator). Even the quiet ones will assert: “This is my day to pick, not yours.” As the parent, you can also state: “This is your sisters day to pick the desert. Your day is tomorrow.” This will provide more parenting power. The game/rule/day will be the bad guy, not you. It is easy to argue with you and hard to argue with the “rule.” It also eliminates the dreaded “because I said so” statements. No one wins with that statement!

Strong willed children will still want to dominate but you have to set a new, fairer precedent that allows everyone a chance to pick, talk, control. As the parent, you guide your children with this game/parenting style and step out of the emotional tug-o-war. Use this tactic whenever the bossy child starts to become the dictator. Be creative with the game. Short cycles taking turns might be necessary to prevent meltdowns and don’t let those low energy children give up their turn to the more dominant ones. It is easy for natural followers to let others take charge but they need to be empowered too!