Parenting kids, Seriously, Parenting Yourself, Seriously

Adversarial Relationships


(Synopsis from Raising Your Spirited: Chapter 6)

Researchers tell us that when we get caught in an adversarial relationship with our children, we end up with more, not fewer, behavioural issues in the long run. More troubling, we fall out of love with our sons and daughters.

Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

When parents let their emotions get to them during situations with their kids (when they are not doing what the parents want), it begins to wear away at the relationship between the parent and child.

It can be frustrating when your child is refusing to get their shoes on, or get out the door or follow your plans for the day. You tell them once, you told them twice, and by the third time you’re screaming through tight lips, and they are returning the disposition because their agendas are different than yours. When parents allow the frustration and heightened emotions to take over them, they end up taking a step back from their relationship because they are trying to control the situation by controlling the child. Often with parents it comes down to putting threats or manipulation on the table, such as, “if you don’t put your shoes on right now, no more TV for the rest of the day!” Or, “if you put your shoes on and get in the car, you can have some juice”.

Oftentimes there’s no acknowledgement of the child’s agenda or feelings. Which in turn heightens the child’s want to push them away, especially in the moment, and disregard the parent’s wishes to do as they wish.

Until children are afraid of their parents, they will match the attitude and responses presented.

It’s not about obedience, its about kids’ feeling respected and heard, and not understanding why their parent’s agenda is more important than their own.

At the end of it, both parent and child are worn down from the intense emotions and situation; feeling emotionally bruised and battered as well as distanced from each other.

Have you ever wondered whether parents who always seem to stay calm, have a secret?

They do. It’s how they view their child.

So how do you change these outcomes in the situations? You have to enter them and exit them with your energy being calm. With your body and mind being peaceful. With calm energy you are focussed on each other; able to listen and enjoy each other’s presence. You can ask your daughter to get in the car and she simply does it. Or if she resists it,

you are able to think quickly enough to squat down on her eye level and commiserate with her about how frustrating it is to discontinue her activity, and then help her find a stopping point.

The two of you remain calm, listen to one another, and work together. The power struggle never occurs. There never has to be a power struggle.

Remember to pay attention to your interpretation of your child’s reactions.

As Author and Doctor Mary Sheedy Kurcinka writes, parents are quick to assume that: she’s manipulating me, he’s testing me, he’s being defiant, he doesn’t like me, she’s being out of control, she’s trying to get away with everything, he intentionally makes me late for work.

We need to realize that children lack the ability to communicate what their heart and mind truly desires. So their body shows it in their actions. They don’t have the reasoning of an adult. We all know an adult would think to themselves, “well I don’t want to be passive aggressive, or even outright aggressive, I should just tell them how I’m feeling” right? Your job as parents to teach them how to do that

I’ve learned that sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.”

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Dr. Kurcinka is an award-winning lecturer and parent educator. She provides private consultations and workshops nationally and internationally for parents and professionals serving Children.

For more information, learning, and material from Dr. Kurcinka, visit http://www.parentchildhelp.com

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