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"In a Minute Mom" - Can You Recognize a Power Struggle?

June 07, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 116

Parents power struggle with their teens over all sorts of things. Getting out of bed in the morning, getting out of the house on time, doing homework, doing chores, turning off the TV, excessive texting, Facebook, gaming, the list goes on and on.

Do you know how to recognize if you are in a power struggle? Here is an example to demonstrate.

Fifteen year old Bill is supposed to take out the trash by 9:00 each night. It's 9:15 and he's watching TV and the trash is sitting there. Mom is beginning to get annoyed and a little angry. Mom goes into Bill's room and says, "It's 9:15, the trash is still sitting there. I've told you a hundred times. Why can't you just do what you're supposed to do around here? "

Bill says, "Yea, OK, in a minute Mom. Let me just finish watching this show". Mom goes on to explain that she doesn't think he should finish the show. Mom thinks he should do it now because he agreed to do it by 9:00 and it's already 9:15. Bill says, "Yea Mom, you are right, but this show is totally awesome, see they are doing this really cool thing, and I just want to see how it ends. I'll take it out as soon as the show is over." Mom says "OK "and leaves the room.

What's going on here?

This is a power struggle. This one is kind of subtle because Bill is actually being pretty nice while exerting his dominance. Mom wasn't really offended by it. Mom may not have picked up on it at all.

How can you recognize it?

In this case, Mom did a great job by establishing a clear agreement up front with Bill; That the trash is to be out by 9:00. It is important that you make clear agreements so that everyone knows what is expected. Mom did that.

With that in mind, it is now past 9:00 and Bill is saying "In a minute Mom", thus he is taking control of "when" he will do it. He is exerting power over his schedule, and over-powering the agreement. The other clear sign of a power struggle is use of the words " Yea but". Did you catch it in the example? "Yea, But" are your classic power struggle words. They mean, "Yes, you are right, But I'm in Control Here".

In our example, the "Yea But" was cleverly hidden under a friendly tone, and an explanation. It was so well done that Mom seemed alright with Bill not keeping to the agreement.

It's easy to relate to Mom in this example. Since Bill was being friendly and lovable, it probably seemed reasonable in the moment to let him finish the show. You know the old saying "pick your battles". The power of the agreement (trash out by 9:00) gets compromised when Mom doesn't enforce it. As an isolated incident, this isn't monumental in the grander scheme of things. However if a pattern of "letting it go" starts to develop, Bill's respect for Mom's parental authority can start to diminish, and lead to bigger problems over time.

Power struggles can be tricky business. Want to learn more? Join Jane Cabrera, The Parent Success Coach on Friday June 22nd at 2:00pm EST for a FREE Webinar "No I Won't and You Can't Make Me" Effectively Handling Power Struggles. Details and registration can be found on line at

Jane will share proven tips and strategies for you to implement immediately to create harmony and loving family connections.

Jane Cabrera, The Parent Success Coach, author of "The Parent's Guide to Thriving Through The Teen Years" audio program, is a nationally recognized parenting expert, professional speaker, and Mom of two teens.

Source: EzineArticles
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