What comes to mind when I mention the word threat? Here’s the definition for reference, according to Merriam-Webster:
- an expression of an intent to do harm
- something that threatens
- an indication of something impending
I will sum up those definitions with my own:
- a tactic used to have power over, or control the actions of, another person
How often are threats used in the parent-child relationship? A question to consider deeply…
In my experience, threats are not conducive to creating a collaborative environment in our home or world. Yet, they are one of the top tactics that parents use to get kids to do what they want, to get control. If our hackles are raised, possibly it’s because we have some unresolved stuff about being controlled ourselves or question our ability to positively influence others without directly or indirectly controlling them.
This is exactly why I am bringing up the subject. I have seen myself resort to some sort of threat (attempt to control or have power in the situation) too many times. I’m not talking about just harsh threats, but any attempt to bait someone into doing what I want based on a future consequence (especially those that may be negative). I have been watching this tendency unravel itself for my entire life, although it is parenting that puts it in my face so I am actually doing something about it, allowing it to change.
Here are some steps I am taking to stop threatening and start collaborating; to create a home, family, and world where people don’t have to feel under or over – we can just work together. Some are in-the-moment while some are over-arching principles to guide my actions.
- Notice when I feel a tense sensation in my body while I am interacting with my children, spouse, family member, or friend. The body provides signals and if I pay attention, I can work with them instead of stuffing or otherwise not honoring them. Tension generally precedes the desire or attempt to control.
- Acknowledge that control and power over is not really what I want; it’s a tendency to grasp when I feel out of control, not heard, or otherwise may not see a solution to a perceived problem. This is huge! I choose whether or not I threaten anyone. If I take the time to stop myself and watch what is occurring in my mind and body I can choose to make another choice, to work together.
- Declare what I do want. I may not want to threaten, manipulate, or control (however I may be able to rationalize such behavior) and I do want to work things out together, nurture a mutually respectful environment, and discuss whatever needs to be discussed. I do want to feel safe in my home, and for everyone else to also feel safe. I do want people to care for one another and to act quickly to help one another whenever reasonable. I do want communication that takes into account all perspectives. I do want to cultivate peace in our home.
- Choose to listen. Sometimes (most times) just resting in a listening space inside myself allows me to realize that there is a solution present or through some either time and space apart or more conversation, a solution will present itself. A solution that feels collaborative to everyone.
- Choose to stop, get space, and come back with an intent to work together when necessary. Much of our experience is about determination – and choice. We are really not dictated by the actions of others. The more I realize this the more I am able to choose how I work with the kids, how I see them, how I honor and respect them.
- Learn and apply ways to encourage others that are not manipulative. I have never enjoyed being manipulated. I don’t want to do it to anyone else. It just feels slimy. Teaching myself other ways to relate to others is having a profound effect on my life. Just a drop the bucket of resources include: Eckhart Tolle, Alfie Kohn, Scott Noelle, Nonviolent Communication, Thomas Haller, Planting Seeds, and Chick Moorman. Here’s a link to more.
- Embrace modeling as the most effective and positive way to nurture. Our kids follow us. While they are their own independent people, they live what they learn, what they see. As I take full responsibility for who I am and what example I set, I find much less of a desire to control and much more of an inclination to sit down, invite the children to participate, and work stuff out together – human to human.
How do you transform the tendency to control or influence others through the use of threats?
Enjoy the submissions of other carnival participants…
- Unschooling My Heart – Patti at Canadian Unschooler discovered that Unschooling her kids was EASY compared to the bigger change required to Unschool her heart.
- Change (Variety) – Rachel at Lautaret Bohemiet writes about how variety is the spice of life.
- No More Threats – Amy at Presence Parenting flips the idea of parental control through threats on its head, for good.
- Why Are You Mad??? Turn Off the T.V and Meditate – Destany of They Are All of Me discusses limiting stress by focusing more on your Inside self.
- Co-ed Sleepovers? Changing My Mindset – Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama takes a hard look at her previous beliefs about sleepovers.
- Change Can Mean Puddles – Jorje of Momma Jorje has had to clean up some puddles after major changes.
- On Acceptance – Laura at Authentic Parenting writes about how she ditched the constant longing for change and came to accept herself as she is.
- Blissed Out on Birth, Drunk on Baby Skin – Melissa from Mothers of Change passionately explores the changes she would like to see come to the maternity care system, and our universal love of the smell of a newborn baby.
- Changing My Mindset, One Challenge at a Time – Wolfmother at Fabulous Mama Chronicles speaks candidly about her challenges in changing how she parents.
- Because Mommy Said No – Dawn of Raising Natural Kids discusses the use of a common phrase that makes Mommy out to be the bad guy when, in reality, she is making decisions out of love.
- Through Adversity We Grow – Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children chooses to take a positive view on change and growth.
- Life is Change – Rae of Ital Livin’ writes about the large changes her family has made within the last year.constant in life.
- A Changing Voice – Jennifer at Our Muddy Boots discusses how in order to grow change is unavoidable. That does not mean the process is easy though.
- Being. Changing. Believing. – Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making It All Work reminisces on the changes that have shaped her adult life thus far, and molded her into an adaptable, but still type-A, believer in change.
- Motivating Change In The Face Of Apathy – Brenna at Almost All The Truth is asking the question many of us who actively work to change the world ask ourselves: how do we get people to care?
- She Changes Everything She Touches – Change is the only thing we can count on in life, and Jen in Canada examines some of the biggest things she’d like to tackle before the birth of her second child.
Are you struggling as a parent? If so, I’d like to share something with you: a story and some hope. If you would like to change how you respond when parenting feels intense, I invite you to consider this ebook or challenge.