power struggles
Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

Rodney Dangerfield hit the nail on the head “I don’t get no respect.”

After almost 11 years and four kids later, I thought I had this parenting thing down. Well, boy was I ever wrong. The moment I get into a groove, the kids throw me a new curve ball. But I learn to adjust by learning a new technique to try that will make things easier on all of us.

Recently, my article about how my youngest child could probably get away with murder, literally sparked some interest with other parents, too. He and I have had power struggles for awhile and I was done. Everyday we have this back and forth dance trying to see who will get the upper hand today. As the baby, he has me wrapped around his finger. When he persists long enough he eventually gets what he wanted but no more.

A wonderful reader commented and told me about a book that helped change her parenting style: Dr. Leman’s Have A New Kid By Friday. As soon as I read it, I began implementing his suggestions because it was simple and doable. There was less yelling on my part and the kids were being more respectful towards me. For my youngest, it was time to try something new because our relationship was suffering. It has taken the tension out of our interactions with each other, but I saw the other kids needed this method of parenting, too.

Do You Have More Than One Parenting Style?

Mostly, I lean towards the Authoritative parenting style, but I have Permissive and Authoritarian tendencies as well. With the Authoritative side, I’ve taught my kids responsibility because I am raising adults. They know how to:

  • Make their own lunches
  • Are responsible for getting ready for school
  • Fold and put away their clothes
  • Clean up after themselves
  • Put away their dishes

They know this all has to be done before they can get on electronic devices. We have made some great strides towards getting them ready for adulthood, but still have a lot of work to do. As we head into the teen years soon, there are several things we need to nip in the bud before it gets too out of had. For example: Can you say ATTITUDE adjustment?

In true Authoritarian fashion, I like to do things a certain way in a timely matter, so when my requests aren’t fulfilled immediately, I get antsy. This is when I remind the children more than once to do something until completion. Bedtimes are done in military precision and they know not get out of bed. I can see that making changes is more or less a huge adjustment in my own perspective. It is also about releasing control, but giving consequences based on the way the children respond. 

On the Permissive side of things, I can be a big softy, too. I give in a lot when it comes to things like when they want candy at odd times throughout the day. Or when we are shopping and they want a little trinket. My children know what things I will cave to and which things they can’t get away with. This, too, comes back to bit me on the butt cause they are learning how to manipulate people to get their way. 

Finally Stopping The Power Struggles

I see the power struggles in our house are real. I want to give my children more freedom to complete tasks on their own time, but also know there are consequences when they aren’t completed. It goes along the lines of “B doesn’t happen until A is complete.” Meaning, you have to fold your clothes before getting on electronics. We use this a lot in our house and this they understand. The one thing still bringing me trouble was having to repeat myself ad nauseum and eventually blowing up.

We tested the “say it once, turn my back and walk away” suggestion from Dr. Leman when my youngest refused to get his coat on for school. I told him to put his coat on, then walked away to collect all my things. He refused and  had thrown it on the ground. Instead of getting mad, I said when you are ready to go to school we will go, but we will be late if we don’t leave soon.

30 minutes later, he finally apologize after sulking in the corner, mumbling to himself. In the meantime, I did other things, helped his brothers get ready for their school and let him have his tantrum. I accepted his apology, gave him a hug, and took him to school after dropping off the older kids.

Here’s the kicker: After school, he got home and asked for his Kindle to play on. I calmly said, No, I don’t feel like giving it to you. Then I turned away and began washing the dishes. BUT WHY????? Again calmly, I said, I didn’t like the way you acted when I asked you to get ready for school this morning. Oh yeah…But I apologized. I know but I didn’t like the way you acted, so no electronics this afternoon. Do you understand? Yes, I understand. 

WHAT???? That seriously worked. No screaming or kicking. There was no yelling on my part and he actually respected me. Well, we are definitely going to try this again.

Stop Reacting In The Thick Of It

Since I started implementing these methods, I’ve had similar interaction with my other kids. After their meltdown subsides and apologize, they will ask for something of value and I calmly tell them no and walk away. When they follow me and ask why not (which inevitably they will), I explain to them what part about their behavior I didn’t like.

No longer am I reacting in the heat of the moment because when I say no and walk away, there is space between my child and I.  A weight has been lifted off my shoulders because I’m not immediately getting angry. The power struggles are slowing fading away. Although, I have to be okay with releasing control. We might not get to places on time if children aren’t ready, but that’s part of the transition phase. The balance of power is shifting in our house and it’ll take some time to get used to that.

There’s been a little hiccup here and there along the way cause I need to check my attitude, too. Other than that, the message is clear that mom means business and in order to get what you want, there has to be mutual respect between parties. But also understand that I am your mother, not your BFF, and my job is to raise you to become responsible, kind adults. It’s not going to be easy, but it will be worth it.

 

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