Families, communities, and nations are stronger when parents avoid power struggles with their children by giving children appropriate power. Every individual on this earth desires to feel some control of their own life. Infants do not hesitate to let adults know that they are hungry, tired, or soiled, and toddlers learn quickly to say “no” to everything. The desire for autonomy continues through childhood and the teens into young adulthood. Wise parents give their children as much power as possible while ensuring that individuals can use the power wisely.
I saw a cute post on Facebook today, and I realized that it taught several principles that can help parents deal with their child or children. The first principle is that there is unlimited power, so an adult does not dilute or lose power by giving some away. The second principle is that “Power is not like a remote control where only one person has all the power and control. Power is like a candle. You can give a child power without giving way any of your own power.”
The article gave two important goals for parents to set: (1) Deal with children and teens in such a way that they realize their importance to you but without allowing them to become tyrants over you and others and (2) Help them to have “power within themselves.”
Parents may ask how they are to achieve these goals, so the author(s) gave some ways of helping the rising generation to meet their power needs. (1) We can give them a choice rather than giving them orders. (2) We can give them responsibility – chores, assignments, etc. (3) We should look for the strengths of our children and then help them to see them. (4) We should “express interest rather than praise.” (5) We can ask for their opinions. (6) We can ask for their help.
The author(s) listed numerous things that parents should remember in giving power to their children. I believe that the most important one is to recognize “your own need for power and control.” Are you one of those people that must control everything, or can you delegate responsibility and allow others to grow? If control is a problem for you, I suggest that you start working on it now. Another thing that we should all remember is that the need for children and teens to develop autonomy increases as they mature. The goal of every parent should be to help their children grow into self-controlled and responsible adults who are ready to go into the world.
Included on the author(s)’ list of things to remember is the counsel to “respect the boundaries” set by children and teens. When we respect their boundaries, we tell them that we consider them to be capable of setting their own boundaries. In other words, we give them the power to set their own boundaries. It goes without saying that parents should “avoid making threats” because they never work in the long term – and they usually make the parent look ridiculous. We should also “avoid power struggles” by sharing power as often as possible. By sharing power and teaching children and teens to use it appropriately, parents can strengthen their family, community, and nation.