Aug 31, 2009

The Parent-Child Power Struggle: Who Wins, Who Loses?

Rarely do we find a parent in our classes who does not think of conflict resolution in terms of someone winning and someone losing. This "win-lose" orientation is at the very root of the dilemma of today's parents--whether to be strict (parent wins) or to be lenient (child wins).

Most parents see the whole problem of discipline in child-rearing as a question of being either strict or lenient, tough or soft, authoritarian or permissive. Because they are locked into this either-or approach to discipline, they see their relationship with their children as a power struggle, a contest of wills, a fight to see who wins--a war. Today's parents and their children are literally at war, each thinking in terms of someone winning and someone losing. They even talk about their struggle in much the same way as two nations at war.

When conflict arises between parents and children, most parents try to resolve it in their favor so that the parent wins and the child loses. Others, somewhat fewer in number than the "winners," consistently give in to their children out of fear of conflict of frustrating their children's needs. In these families the child wins and the parent loses. The major dilemma of parents today is that they see only these win-lose approaches.

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