Power in very basic terms means the ability to control one’s environment, which of course, would translate into the ability to control the behaviour of other people too. And as parents,especially mothers many of who find themselves saddled with the unfortunate task of assuming the role of discipline enforcers in children and many a times the children’s fathers as well, if you catch my drift, we need to have power and be able to exercise such power to run our homes efficiently.
As much as the word ‘power’ evokes all kinds of perceptions both negative and positive, truth be told we all like power, which is why I never understood why a bunch of politicians that broke away from the ruling party recently were somehow supposed to be offended by being labelled as ‘people who like power.’
Anyhow, before I get carried away by issues that could be a subject of another discussion on a different page or platform, let me mention that the reason I was reminded of the inherent human being need and love for power was what my son said to me recently.
Coming down the stairs looking very frustrated,the little fellow asked me: “How come no one listens to me around here when I am the boss of this house?”
Where the boy got the idea that he was the boss and that the boss must be listened to. I do not know and that is not from my lack of trying to find out as he insists its from ‘himself.’
What had transpired is that he had asked his aunt who was doing laundry to remove the clothes from the bathtub so he could take a bath and when the aunt didn’t even dignify his request with an acknowledgement, he stormed downstairs to report to me.
After finding out what happened, I asked him why he thought the ‘boss’ should be listened to when he on many occasions hadn’t cared to listen to others. He just smiled and wanted me to affirm that he was indeed the boss, to which I replied that I was the boss of the house and not him.
Not to be deterred, he said; “In that case we are both the boss then.” And so the subject of power sharing in a household caught my attention, driving me to read up on it a little bit more than I have ever done before.
I, like many of today’s parents was raised by traditional parents who used power to dominate. If they said jump, you didn’t say how high, you jumped before they could even finish the sentence.
They dictated what you did, when you did it and how you did it, all of course in your best interest. And just to give you a rough idea of how long that kind of treatment of children went on, voting age by then was 21. Need I say more!
What I learned in my little research though, which I could relate to real life was that children have always resisted this kind of authority and parents who choose to enforce it tend to face rebellion when the children get a little bit older, especially during the teenage years. On the other extreme (and this I think is more ridiculous and totally pathetic) is a parent who is reluctant to use their power at all to discipline their child and instead treats the child as indeed some kind of a spoiled boss whose every whim must be attended to by both the parent but especially by an abused maid.
Apparently parents who feel powerful are confident, parents who feel powerless are insecure and children do best when their parents feel confident, otherwise they become insecure! The secret therefore, I have come to learn is to effectively share the power. And this does not at all translate into equal say for everyone but simply means that all voices should be heard, acknowledged and treated with respect.
But if you really think about it, should we not share the power with our children, how would we hope to train our children to grow up to be able to make good judgements as well as to own and solve their problems?
How would we hope to teach them that cooperation is not necessarily cooperation when its gotten through force, which brings to mind the proverbial little boy who told his father that he was sitting down but standing up on the inside because he was coerced to sit down.
This then brings into picture what I term the heaviest responsibility and biggest challenge of being a parent, which is the ability to get cooperation from your children through influence instead of using external controls.
Should they do as you say and not as you say. What is good for the goose must be good for the gander, or not?
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