Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Is Your Home a War Zone?

  1. Is your child the enemy, or a terrorist?
  2. Do you refuse to negotiate with your child?
  3. Do you create a united front with your spouse, against your child? 
  4. Do your children combine forces, against you?
  5. Do you have battles with your child?
  6. Does one of you win each battle and the other lose?
  7. Do you have a strategy for winning?
  8. Do you shoot down your child's requests?
  9. Do you use your physical power to get your way?
  10. Does your child take advantage of you?
Does your home sound or feel like a war zone? Are you all right with that? If you aren't, if it doesn't feel right, please know that parenting doesn't have to look like war. It can be peaceful, if you want it to be.

How To Make Peace In Your Home

Step One: Adjust your eyes and ears. Look at your child as a person, just like you, only with different ways of expressing needs. Look at your child's actions as expressing needs. Listen and respond to those needs.

Step Two: Adjust your mouth. Choose your words with care. Using war vocabulary to describe your child and your interactions with him sets you both up for an adversarial relationship.

Step Three: Adjust your attitude. If you focus on winning against your child, you may win a battle, or even most battles, but you will still be at war. And the longer you are at war with your child, the more chance there is for you to lose some really important things, like your child's trust, respect, or love.

You can be your child's partner. Her best friend. Her advocate. You can support her and let her be who she is, right now. You can focus on your relationship with your child right now, instead of on growing your child into perfection.

When you partner with your child, you both win, just by being on the same side.


I was inspired by the following parenting advice from an article I read this morning (I added the bold):
Whatever you decide to implement in your family, stick to it! Be the boss and if you get resistance just answer, “because I said so.” You don't have to be mean about it and you don't have to negotiate. I like to say to my kids, “we don't negotiate with terrorists.” It is just another way of saying, “I'm the boss and what I say, goes.”


  1. That's some advice. What if you implement a policy that does not work? Should you never change it? The article is laughable. Here's another pearl for the child who steps out of line:

    "One of my friends who is in the military assigns push-ups."

    Can water-boarding be far behind?

  2. Another great post, Vickie. What a sad, sad article that was!

  3. Oh my! That article was horrible! Use a fly swatter to get your kids attention and respect?! I just sat here speechless after reading that.... and she called her kids manipulators.... wow.

  4. I used to reluctantly submit to the "united front" arguement....standing behind my husband (or at least biting my tongue) even when what he was doing or saying wasn't fair. Then I read Unconditional Parenting By Alfie Kohn. He made a good point that your child will lose trust in you if he/she sees you submitting to injustice and "taking sides" against them. CLEARLY the adult has the physical power in the situation, they probably also have the verbal/emotional power....so that makes most of the "power struggles" pure bullying. I stopped biting my tongue when he was unfair and spoke up for my kids. He HATED it....thought he deserved respect that was clearly undeserved... JUST BECAUSE. I figured, well sucks for you but if you want respect ACT like you deserve it. You can't demand it....not REAL respect. There's no way I am going to risk my hard won trust with my children by standing idly by while they are subjected to bullying. Needless to say both our parenting AND our marriage eventually parted ways.

  5. Thanks for the comments, all. Yes, I was upset by the article. I really feel sad for parents who set up that kind of relationship with their children. It's just not necessary! Manipulation is a two-way street!

  6. I like you article better. Children are not terrorists.

  7. So if you're 4 year old wants to drive the car you negioate? Your 10 year old wants a piece of chocolate cake for breakfast, lets talk it through. Your 13 year old decides school just isn't 'his thing' support him when he stops attending? Recently in Georgia a 6 year old girl threw such a extreme tantrum destroying property and injuring people she had to be put in handcuffs to keep her from hurting herself or others. I suspect she grew up in a home where there was a lot of negioating, no hard rules and when she was in an environment that DID have hard and fast rules (like, you know, every aspect of society) she couldn't cope. Teachers and police officers won't be willing to "negotiate" with your children and I suspect when faced with that reality they will blow up having never developed any skills for coping with frustation.

    1. Your suspicions of such an upbringing are just that, you suspect that this type of peaceful interactions doesn't work or even that non-peaceful interactions DO work.

    2. Obviously my 4-year-old cannot drive the car. The issue is how I address it. Do I just snap at her and tell her no without explaination? Of course not! Instead I would tell her that she can pretend to drive, but it isn't legal for her to do so. I would explain that there is training required and licensing, but remind her that she will get to drive when she is old enough to get a learners. She learns a lot more about life that way than if I just squash her request completely. As for cake....sure! Why not have a slice for breakfast if we have it....we rarely do unless there was a birthday party that week. An occasional cake breakfast can be a rare treat. If my teen was unhappy with school we would look at other options...there are many (my kids won't be going to school anyway). That 6-year-old you mentioned most likely had some special needs that resulted in such an extreme situation...don't assume so much.

    3. My 4 year old can't drive the car. But I can take him to the dodgems. Or let him sit in the front seat and go 'brum brum' when the car is parked.

      Yes, my 10 year old can have cake for breakfast. We eat a mostly healthy diet, and treats sometimes are fine. Why should treats not be for breakfast occassionally?

      My 13 year old will already be homeschooled. But if he WANTS to go to school, yeah, I'll support him in that.

      I don't think teaching my child to be reasonable, and to think for himself is going to make him a criminal.

  8. Cameron - You are making a lot of assumptions about the background of that little girl you mention. You are also confusing respectful parenting with permissive/neglectful parenting. There is a lot of material online about both.