Winning for a Lifetime
"Like a great mystery, power struggles are never solved until the real culprits have been identified."
— Diane, mother of two
On the surface, power struggles look like a tug of war. Parents and kids pitted against one another. Opposing forces pulling in different directions. Two individuals at odds with each other both determined to win!
The trouble is that if you win by simply outmuscling your child, you still feel lousy. There's little pleasure in victory when your child is left distressed and angry. If you lose, it's even worse. What kind of a parent can't even get a child to brush her teeth or finish her homework? Power struggles are frustrating. You don't have all day to negotiate. You just want to get out of the door! And power struggles make you angry. Aren't you supposed to be the parent in charge? Power struggles can leave you feeling scared and helpless. If it's like this now, how will you survive your child's adolescence? And power struggles can make you sad. Screaming at your kids wasn't part of your dream.
What I've learned after more than twenty years of working with families is that daily fights are not inevitable. You don't have to walk constantly on eggshells in order to avoid the blowups. You don't have to doubt yourself or feel exhausted from defending yourself. Like a diver discovering the beauty of the coral reef, going below the surface of a power struggle can take you to a new place, a place where parents and kids are working together and power struggles are few and far between. Below the surface, you'll discover that power struggles are about feelings and needs — yours and your child's.