Parenting can become the ultimate battleground for power. For example, Fox news (USA) reported that a mother made her
daughter dress in nasty second-hand clothes to teach her not to bully classmates on their dress sense (http://fox13now.com/2013/05/17/mom-gives-bullying-daughter-a-unique-punishment/) The poor lassy’s picture is to the right.
It is far too easy, as a parent, or even as a partner, to get sucked into a power struggle in the relationship. Listen to the language here: ‘struggle’ – do you want your relationship to be a struggle? If you win the struggle, what will you do with your new found power? How will the other feel now that they have lost the power? What will you do to make sure that you retain your power? Will you move into the bullying, power over behaviour of the mother reported on Fox News (teaching your child not to bully through bullying behaviour? Hum….)?
“It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it”.
Aung San Suu Kyi – Freedom from fear.
Power struggles are based on the misguided belief of the nature of power. Websters dictionary defines power (noun) as:
“possession of control, authority or influence over others”.
In parenting, we can often confuse our authority, which we have as the legal guardians and providers for our children, with control and power over them. One is a legal and practical fact, the other is a tangle of beliefs, values and personal history that, when combined with a parenting bad day, or lack of sleep, becomes a recipe for stress and fighting.
If we truly believe we should be able to control another: child, adult or situation, we will come rubbing up against reality time and time again (“this should not happen!”; “He should not have said that!”; “She treats me so badly!”). Life happens. People think (darn them!) and build their own set of beliefs and values about the world. As parents, we try to morally influence our children, but if we believe we can do more than that, we are going to develop a stormy relationship. We often mistake our “power” for the need for control or a simple defensive reaction when our egos have been attacked