One of the most frequent questions I receive as a parenting coach is how to end the power struggle with children! Frustrated parents from across the globe reach out with the same exhaustion and confusion, where did it all go wrong?
In the case of Jane, she had dedicated her life to her two children. Jane had come from a broken home where resources were slim, she was determined that her children would have everything that she never had and her focus was to provide a stable, loving, and abundant home.
Over the years, however, Jane noticed an intangible resistance growing in her children, she felt they didn’t respect or listen to her. When I met Jane, she was sad and broken, she had done everything for her kids, and they didn’t seem to appreciate any of it in fact they seemed to resent her!
Jane shared an example where her daughter (13) misplaced her school jumper, frustrated her daughter launched into a tirade of anger at her mother for not knowing where her jumper was and stormed out of the house. Jane went to the uniform shop and purchased a new jumper and dropped it at school.
Jane sat in the chair across from me questioning herself, overwhelmed with feelings of “not good enough”. “I ask her every week to clean her room and put her clothes away, and she doesn’t listen, so I end up doing it, and then this happens!”
I had heard enough, the issue was clear, what was missing in this household was boundaries and natural consequences.
Boundaries are a broad and somewhat vague topic, we know we are supposed to have them, but they seem elusive and mysterious, however, our society is built on them! Some examples of boundaries are laws, policies, and rules, within our road rules, codes of conduct at work, and acceptable behaviours at school…boundaries are everywhere except all too often in our homes and our relationships.
I teach an understanding of boundaries by using the analogy of solid vs temp fencing. A solid fence is permanent, strong enough to retain a hundred head of cattle, the animals know the boundary lines and they accept that they cannot exceed this. Our road rules and laws are akin to solid fencing, they rarely change, we are familiar with them and most importantly we know there are natural consequences for breaking them.
Children are supposed to push the boundaries, it’s how they discover the world, but without boundaries and being in a state of constant giving like Jane was, our children soon learn that the further they push the more that they gain and therefore the battle begins.
In this example, Jane’s daughter was asked to clean her room and put her clothes away (this was an attempt at a boundary) however she pushed the limits and ignored her mother so Jane ended up doing it, by not holding the boundary strong, Jane just taught her daughter that there are no consequences for not adhering.
Furthermore, by going and buying a new jacket, Jane removed another potential consequence of her daughter feeling cold so what will happen the next time the jumper is missing? The same thing, because no lesson has been learned.
Instead, Jane should have held the firm boundary that it was her daughter’s responsibility to clean her room and manage her clothing. If she didn’t listen and couldn’t find her jacket, then she would feel the cold and realise the natural consequence of not taking responsibility for her room teaching her a valuable lesson.
I could see the realisation dawn on Jane as I explained to her that setting loving boundaries and allowing natural consequences are a kind way to parent as this is what they will experience in the outside world! Needless to say, things have now changed dramatically for Jane’s family and they now have the harmony and respect that she always desired and that they all deserved.
For more empowering information reach out to
Jodee Marques, The Holistic Therapist