The chapter I read in the Boundaries book this last week goes right along with all the other issues I have been processing through lately. It was called “I Can't Do It All, But I'm Not Helpless Either- The Law of Power”. All to often I as the perfectionist parent have to be the one in power. Learning to let go of some of that power has been very hard for me. But on the flip side my oldest is 16 and my youngest is 13. They don;t have that many years left in their home of origin to figure out how to live in the power they have over their own selves. If I rob them of that by hanging onto all the power then how on earth are they ever going to learn how to make those choices and those decisions on their own?
The big point in this chapter is that “a child needs to understand what she can and can't do regarding herself” (p. 90). At the bottom of this page is a chart that shows “I don't have the power to” and “I do have the power to”. Some of the examples it gave are: I don't have the power to survive without needing others, but I do have the power to choose whom I depend on. I need to present the choices to my children like that.
Last night my 15 year old daughter had a friend over while I was gone. She and her 13 year old sister share a room. I received a text from my 13 year old stating she wants her own room because her sister is not respectful of her. When I got home I had both girls come into the living room and I asked my younger daughter to explain to be what was happening. The girls ended up talking most of it between them however, for part of it I acted as mediator and I know I was conscious of my word choices while this was occurring. Toward the end of the discussion my 15 year old objected to needed to talk to her sister about where she would like the girls to hang out. Stephanie felt this was asking permission to be in her own room. I walked her through the difference between being respectful and asking permission. I think she got it, but the bottom line is that there are choices in life but sometimes those choices are limited. I have proven I can present it like that, now I need to state it like that in the moment.
Another chart that was included in this chapter was for parents. It says in one column “attempt to have power over others” and “your response”. I feel that I need to recreate this chart for myself. My 15 year old seems to be the one I who struggles with this the most but all my kids do it. One of the examples is “I can ignore you requests for me to _____”. Instead of my losing my temper I need to state “I won't ask you more then once and I am giving you____ time to accomplish it. If it is not done then you will miss (specific activity).” If I can act like the grown up in the home then they will come to understand that certain behaviors are expected. On the flip side my kids are older and I should have been raising them to behave this way. For a variety of reasons I was not, but now I need to help them create a space of growing and being able to be more in control while at the same time holding them accountable for the behavior they display. Very tricking line to walk. I hope I am managing to balance it fairly well.