Power Struggles:  How To Avoid Them With Your Child

Tips for avoiding power struggles with special guest Philip Mott

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Power Struggles TRANSCRIPT:

Kristina: Welcome, impactful parent. Today we’re going to talk about power struggles in our family.

Hello, my name is Kristina Campos. I am the founder of The Impactful Parent. I help parents of school-aged children turn their chaos into connection with their adolescence. I offer free parent education videos every week, online courses, and coaching. If that wasn’t enough, I bring experts in on other fields onto The Impactful Parent state to teach you even more.

Power Struggles

Power Struggles

Today I have a special guest. His name is Philip Mott. Philip is a homeschooling dad of three kids. He is a monthly contributor to the magazines The First Time Parent and Fatheringtogether.org. I’m very happy to have him here today to talk about power struggles.

Let’s get started right away. I want to ask you, Why do you think that power struggles are so prevalent in family life?

Philip: I think it starts with parental perception.  Many parents believe that we are the sole responsibility for bringing up and training our kids. There is a fault in this thinking. When our children defy us, we assume that they don’t want to do it with this mentality, so we have to make them do it. This puts us in opposition to their desires, and parents try to force the children through things.

Kristina: From my experience, power struggles stem from the parents wanting to control a little too much. This isn’t necessarily the parents’ fault. It usually comes from a place of love, where they just don’t like to see their child mess up. They don’t want to see the child hurt. They don’t want to see the child fail. Coupled with years of being an authority figure and having control over their children in their younger years, it is difficult to change as the child gets older. The tween and teen years start to emerge. Now your adolescent starts to gain independence and wants to break free of the reins of control. The power struggles are amplified.

Philip: Yeah, absolutely. It starts early on when the child starts to develop their own ideas. If we don’t approach the child’s new ideas by getting on the same page and working together toward a common goal, the power struggles increase. 

Kristina: How would you advise a parent to avoid the struggle of power?

Philip: Let me give you an example of what to do…

Disney parks give their employees special training.  They tell their people to always find a way to say YES to the customer.  This technique encourages cooperation.  So, if your child asks to use your computer and you don’t want to tell them no, you would say something like, “Yes, you can use my computer AFTER I am done with it.” Figuring out how to say yes instead of no is a powerful parenting tool.  I think that’s a really great way to keep those power struggles at bay.

Kristina: I do the same with my own children. I feel like a lot of parents make the mistake of saying no too quickly. And I know many parents who are listening to this right now are like, yes, it’s so simple. It’s going to be a lot more difficult than you realize because you’re out of practice. But don’t give up, parents!  With practice, it should become easier, and you’ll avoid a lot of those power struggles that we’re talking about.

Power Struggles

Power Struggles

Philip: When you try to say yes to your kids as much as possible, it reminds them that their parents are on their side.  We want to help them.  We want to be there for them.  We aren’t trying to make their life miserable.

Kristina: When you’ve been in power struggles for a long time, kids forget that you’re on their side. They actually get into a routine of being oppositional with you.  It becomes a habit and feels natural to them.  This isn’t a pattern we want to encourage.

And what if parents can’t change? What are the consequences of keeping the power struggles?

Philip:  It’s the relationship that we have with our children that is at stake. It’s difficult to recover when we start to disrupt the fabric of that relationship and the bond. Parents will start to lose influence in their child’s life. One of the things that are helpful to ask ourselves is, is this helping or hurting the relationship? Am I nagging or criticizing? Am I going to help this relationship, or am I going to hurt the relationship?

Kristina: I think parents underestimate the influence that they have in their child’s life. Even as an adolescent, they might be rolling their eyes, but their ears are still open. They may act like they’re not listening, but they are. The more that parents can make connections with their kids, the more they can influence their lives.

Power Struggles

Power Struggles

I also believe that some power struggles are rooted in the parents’ upbringing.  Suppose the parent grew up in an environment where they had power struggles with their own family. In that case, it feels familiar to have power struggles with their own kids. What do you think about that theory?

Philip: There’s a lot of truth to that. I also think it’s much bigger than that. Some people grew up learning that the parent is an authoritarian. As an authoritarian, there can be some tendencies to treat children like property or a pet.  

Kristina: Now, tell me more about what you do and how people could reach out to you if they resonate.

Philip: Twitter is probably the easiest place to get me. There’s a community of other homeschooling moms and dads that I interact with there. That’s a good place to connect, and that’s where I share most of my content. My handle is @philipmotts1

Kristina: If you would like to become a more impactful parent, check out what my website offers. I have parenting courses, family coaching, 30-day challenges, and lots of free resources. But until next time, you got this, parents. I am just here to help.

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