I've been out and about giving a lot of talks and preparing for an upcoming workshop. All paths are leading me to the prickly landscape of Power Struggles. When we are struggling with our child over who has power it feels a lot like this arid, never ending, not welcoming terrain. It's hot, hot, hot all day long and freezing, freezing all night long.
When we find ourselves in the land of the Power Struggles, fear not fellow travelers - this is where we learn, and grow, and practice skills, and work together. When we get on the other side, and are in our oasis, our pool, our hammock in the shade - we appreciate the quiet and the comfort all the more because, we know what it's like out here in the stinking, hot desert. Every landscape has it's pros and cons, let's review.
Pros of Power Struggles
Our child is growing. Our child is developing. Our child is actually saying to us, "I got this, butt out, stop controlling me." We can DO less when they DO more (love!). Spicy and sassy is an energy. Those power struggley kids need support and creativity to channel that energy but, we don't want to squish it. We get an opportunity to flex our emotional muscles, tame our runaway anxiety, get comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty. We find our core values. We discover our outer most limits, we learn new things about ourselves and our child. We practice endurance (underused parenting tool!). We see some new landscape, we get shoved out of our rut.
Cons of Power Struggles
It is not quiet. It is not peaceful. It is not soothing. We discover (again) we only have control over one person in the entire universe, that is ourselves. If we are in lot of power struggles with our child it usually points to the fact we are trying to control the child - we can't do it (as much as we try). We have to focus on ourselves (always more uncomfortable to look at the man in the mirror then to lecture, nag or cajole our child). We often find ourselves walking in hot and sweaty circles, power struggles are often repetitive, repetitive, repetitive (infuriating!) It feels never ending.
Power struggles can take the fun out of parenting, or they can be a window of opportunity fo us learn more about development, our kids and ourselves.
Next week let's talk about ways we can deal with a good, old fashioned, every day. run of the mill power struggle. But for now - put on your sunscreen and hydrate!