Below is the type of conversation that most likely happens several times a day in homes that have children ages 2 to 18. The dialog is skeletal intentionally because it represents the format for hundreds of different conversations. The words may vary but the format is the same, you want one thing and your child wants something different. There could be endless variations to this conversation however each starts with two people each wanting a different thing.
You tell your child to do something.
They say no.
You say yes.
And they say no.
You’re biggest and have more power so you win.
They cry a lot.
This is a classic example of a POWER STUGGLE – parent and child each trying to get what they want. Parenting would be so much easier if our children always just did what we told them to do, right? However that would produce a child/teenager who does not have the life skills to become a well functioning adult.
A very determined child can be so difficult to parent and yet a child needs lots of determination to grow up in this controversial world. So, our goal as parents should be to try not to squelch the very thing that would help them fight off negative peer pressure – DETERMINATION.
In the Sistine Chapel one whole, huge wall is filled with a huge mural titled ”Last Judgment”. An over simplified description: On one side of the painting it depicts a group of angels descending from Heaven to retrieve souls who are coming up out of their graves. There are demons sneaking out of a crevice in the earth grabbing the legs and arms of some who are trying to rise to heaven. In several cases there is a tug of war going on between the angles and horned demons with the resurrected body in the middle. In other sections some souls are trying to rise up because they want to get into heaven and the angles are pushing them back down.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit the thoughts I had when I first viewed this magnificent painting. I was definitely viewing it through the eyes of a parent, rather than an Art professor. I thought, “That’s how parenting feels sometimes”, lots of emotional pushing back and forth, a conflict of two competitors”. Then I thought, “Wait, parents and their children are on the same team so there should be no tug of war happening”. But there often is.
So, to avoid power struggles and help steer you child’s determination in the right direction, remember:
Determination is a trait your child will need to survive in the world as they grow up.
Your job is not to break their will but help steer it in the right direction.
You and your child are “on the same team”. You should be pulling together rather than against each other.