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Power Struggles, why do we engage?

Ask any parent of any age child and they will tell you that at times their interactions with their child feels more like quelling a coup than parenting. Power struggles are some of the most frustrating and futile situations we get into with our families, so why do we engage?

One answer lies in nature. The urge to control our environment and our fate is inborn. A lot of times in modern society, we are told that power is a negative influence and that to exert authority is oppressive. In reality, we need an ability to influence our children and their environment to help our family function as a system and get its jobs done (school, work, structure) and maintain a calm safe environment.

Power struggles in families emerge when we feel vulnerable as parents and feel our authority is up for question. So how do we change this pattern?

  1. Assess the problem: Determine when you are most vulnerable to power struggles and find a new approach for the future.

  2. Plan: Take time outside of the situation to develop a plan to make tricky times go more smoothly.

  3. Evaluate yourself :Take your own temperature. If you are angry or increasing consequences that are not reasonable you are giving away your authority. Stop, breathe, regroup and then return.

  4. Think: Don’t be afraid to delay your response. Most power struggles are impulsive. We can help you develop a system of consequences that eliminate the need for immediate action.

  5. Work Together: Use your parenting partners. A united front is the strongest front. Unfortunately, sometimes power struggles develop between caregivers. Our class on working together as a team seeks to address this head on.

  6. Wear your sheriff badge proudly! Remember, you are in control of your resources, privileges and behavior. Ultimately if you believe you maintain authority, your child will believe it too. End of struggle!

Please come join us to practice and learn to apply this and other techniques so that you will be able to use them when you need them most. Our parenting series starts Thurs April 27 at 6:30. Register at

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