In my counseling lessons at Southbrook Church, Randy Creamer has explained “the more influence you have in a relationship, the less you need to control. And the more control you use, the less influence you probably have.”
The more I studied controlling behavior, the more it made me realize I have been guilty of the behavior myself. It made me start listening to how I interact with my daughters. There were times I was using guilt as a way to get them to do something or even talk with me. It became obvious that the more I tried to control, the more I pushed them away. When I started to give them the freedom to choose and listened and asked questions instead there was less fighting. I started explaining WHY it was important to do something to get them on board in a positive way. I worked to show unconditional love regardless of their choice. It is sometimes hard. Yet it is critical.
Randy shared how based on his counseling experience and studies if we control our kids, they will learn to accept being controlled as adults. They will not learn to make choices on their own and it can hurt their self-esteem. So instead of forcing decisions on them, teach them to stand up for themselves, learn self-defense, set boundaries and also model the behavior you want for them.
In addition, it is important to teach children to work to understand the person hurting them. Getting them to understand “hurting people hurt people” has helped my daughters remember to be compassionate and to not take things personally. They will now remind me of it when I need to be reminded.
As you start to be more aware of areas where you can improve even if you aren’t extreme, know it isn’t too late to change. I have not always made the best choices, however, I now have techniques I have been practicing that are making differences in my struggles of control. Brene Brown makes a great point in her book I Thought It Was Just Me, but it Isn’t. She says “When we have our self-worth rising on the relying on something that we can’t control, we put our self-worth in jeopardy.”