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Controlling Children: Do You Really Want To?

Updated on March 27, 2011

A Bold Question

It is my guess that the answer is not always clear in comparison to the question the headline so blatantly asks. Many of us come from widely varying back grounds and the question of controlling our children has yet even more meanings for each of us individually. A mouthful of words? Yes.

This question is meant to pull at you a bit and make you think. As parents, our responsibility is great and the question of controlling our children is just as great. Is this really what it takes to parent effectively - control, regulation, authority?

Do You Recall

First, let's take a stroll down memory lane. Do you recall when you were a child? A little bit? I know some people sort of conveniently forget that phase of life, but if you check your research, it's a profound period in one's life. Can we get through unhappy times we experienced as children? Certainly. Is that always easy. Heck no.

Okay, so you're remembering what it is like to be little. What did it feel like when others tried to control you? Not so good. Can you honestly look back and say it made you a better person? Really?

As Naomi Adort asks in her book Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, if you knew bottom line that your children would turn out ok, happy, and successful adults without shame, blame, control, and punishment, would you use it to parent them? Would you?

Is that not the reason parents feel they need to have some sort of upper hand with their children? To produce adults who can function in our society?

We All Think About It

I spoke with a friend the other day. She is a very kind, caring mother and as we talked, the issue of her children understanding authority came up. She was feeling like she needed to be a source of authority for her children to understand what it was. She is not alone, many parents feel this way and many more will claim it is the only way to parent or teach or relate to children.

Let's Look At Authority

We all know the word: authority. Now for some definitions:

  • convincing force
  • person in command
  • an individual cited or appealed to as an expert
  • power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior

It is my guess that most can agree their idea of authority is one of or a combination of these ideas.

Certainly, we want to be able to influence our children's behavior, especially when it comes to their safety and well being. However, do we want to do it through force, command, or because we are the expert? While we may be experts in the human experience, our children will likely testify to the fact that they are the experts in joy, creativity, and living life without worrying what others think!

It's true... we could take some lessons from our children.

A Parent's Role

Everyone has their idea of what a parent's role is. This hub is written to affirm or challenge that.

Adults are the masters of the human experience (or maybe not so much, but we keep plugging away). We've been around for a while so we generally know how to operate in society without getting ourselves locked away or killed, and maybe we have even figured out how to prosper! Just the same, children are the masters of having and creating fun, living life with enthusiasm, and exploring their world.

Controlling our children will likely lead to one thing: rebellion at some point later in life, not to mention a less-than-it-could-be relationship with our children. We birthed these little beings - why not have as much fun as possible with them?!


What We Can Do

We can start by realizing where we are. I wrote this hub to pointedly draw awareness, not create guilt within the parent reading. I firmly believe parents are always doing the best they can in any given moment.

If you want a change in your relationship with your children, you can have it, and it does not have to include control, punishment, shame, or blame. (See resources below)

We can begin the journey by starting to think about the idea of not worrying what others think. I know, I know - it can be difficult, but it's a step. Think about what would change in your parent/child relationship if you took out the element of what others think. Does that lighten the load a bit?

What other people think is really not our concern. It is important to consider the feelings of others and respect one another. That is certainly true. However, in the case of guiding our children, it is not necessary to hold tightly to the belief that guiding involves shaming.

Just the other day I was in an ice cream store and my youngin got up onto the table. It took a moment to get her down as I was with my other children, and I could feel looks from my elders. When I brought her down, there was not a mention of the table and her on it. I scooped her up, enjoyed our ice treat, and went about our business. I addressed the issue, without the shaming and reprimand usually thought required in our society.

We really can all be happy and realize that we're in this together ~ we're not as separate as we think. In moments we can't be happy, we can begin to accept what is, and keep moving forward.

About Rainbow Recognizer

Amy Phoenix is a gentle, yet direct parenting guide and healing facilitator dedicated to sharing insights and practices to transform frustration and anger, heal the past and nurture conscious relationships – to appreciate all aspects of life. Visit her at

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