This episode was an easy one to write for me because I could easily fall into being an authoritarian type. But let’s paint the picture of an authoritarian. It may be a parent of a child that is one of the most well behaved kids around. Of course that child may be silent because she’s in fear of the punishment and that’s where we obviously start to get into some muddy water.
This parenting type is typically dominated by punishment. It’s most often associated with fathers because a lot of us were raised with strict fathers – fathers who showed little warmth and had very clear rules and high expectations. Again – muddy water – clear rules and expectations are things we preach – but it’s the demand of those things that make it over the top.
And that’s the problem with all humans – we all have to balance between being a reasonable enforcer and a black and white executioner. And often, ruling with an iron fist is easier because it get results.
Unfortunately, for the iron fist fathers I’ve seen, the results are well behaved kids who eventually go find friends in high school that tell them to do bad things. Some ‘bad things’ are fine in moderation and at a certain age – tough when they are early on and start to ruin your future. And that’s what happens – kids who get ruled at home look for a ruler out in the real world.
My personal revelation of this made me confront my big issue – keeping control. And once I was able to try this one trick out a few times it totally changed me.
The trick was asking myself: Am I doing this for control – or because it matters.
And a lot of the times my 5 y/o was acting out and he was just being 5 and not hurting anything. But I wanted him to be a ‘sit up straight’ – quiet at the restaurant – has to clean his plate kind of kid. But it turns out that was all in my head. So out of those 3 things – I decided that keeping our voices down at the restaurant was the one I cared about. But a little wiggling in the seat – and him deciding when he’s done with dinner. Those are his. Not mine. And we’ll be better together because I’m not ruling with that iron fist.