Parent Power: Children’s Responses to Control

Parent Power:
Children’s Responses to Control

Social changes have radically assaulted the family and traditional (Old School) parenting methods over the past 25 years, making parenting more difficult.

Significant Social Changes

Some of the things that have changed and made it more difficult for parents to know how to parent are the following.

  1. The rate of change and the personal pressures it brings.
  2. Economic pressures: parents not available for kids, divorce, aand break-up of the family.
  3. Legal changes tie parents’ hands while blaming them too.
  4. Rise of litigation; lawyers are running the show.
  5. “Infoglut”: all information is now available to everybody, even children, who are not ready for it.
  6. Breakdown of sexual mores.
  7. Erosion of spiritual values with continuig increase of materialistic values.
  8. Children’s economic power.
  9. Depersonalization: medication as a substitute for relationships to heal emotional wounds.
  10. Internet, cell phones, and other technologies: everybody has access to everything.
  11. “Overprofessionalization” of relationship skills and conflicts: “a professional needs to cure my kid.”
  12. Inadequacy and irrelevance of an outmoded educational system: restless, unengaged students.
  13. Me first + individual rights = disappearance of common good, moral authority, and Golden Rule.
  14. Poverty: increasing rich-poor gap leads to crime, gangs, anger, and revenge.
  15. Increasingly high rate of change and complexity in all areas of life.
  16. Increasing gap between educated and uneducated with decrease in good manual labor jobs.
  17. TV: rapid-fire passivity (mind-numbing, ADD, ADHD).
  18. Shallow and materialistic cultural ideals of male and female.
  19. Increased violence on TV and movies–both fictional and real.

Effects on Children


Effects of all these changes on children and families have been catastrophic. Children are exposed to too much too soon, grow up with increased rights, power, and knowledge, but are not ready for it, and seem “out of control.” The tragic response to this by parents and almost ALL other authorities in society is a knee-jerk reaction based on the only methods they know: stricter enforcement of laws and rules through more power and control.

The tragic result of these power and control methods of dealing with children is that many children feel assaulted, while their most basic needs are ignored or denied. It’s no surprise that so many rebel against power and control with anger, defiance, and even violence.

Children’s Responses

Thomas Gordon says (in his great book Discipline That Works) that the following behaviors as understandable child responses to the use of parental and societal attempts to control and “rein in” their behavior.

  1. Resisting, defying, being negative.
  2. Rebelling, disobeying, being insubordinate, sassing.
  3. Retaliating, striking back, counterattacking, vandalizing
  4. Hitting, being belligerent, combative
  5. Breaking rules and laws
  6. Temper tantrums, getting angry
  7. Lying, deceiving, hiding the truth
  8. Blaming others, tattling, telling on others
  9. Bossing or bullying others
  10. Banding together, forming alliances, organizing against the adults
  11. Apple-polishing, buttering up, soft-soaping, bootlicking, currying favor with adults
  12. Withdrawing, fantasizing, daydreaming
  13. Competing, needing to win, hating to lose, needing to look good, making others look bad
  14. Giving up, feeling defeated, loafing, goofing off
  15. Leaving, escaping, staying away from home, running away, cutting classes, quitting school
  16. Not talking, ignoring, using silent treatment, writing adults off, keeping one’s distance
  17. Crying, weeping, feeling depressed or hopeless
  18. Becoming fearful, shy, timid, afraid to speak up, hesitant to try anything new
  19. Needing reassurance, seeking constant approval, feeling insecure
  20. Getting sick, developing psychosomatic ailments
  21. Overeating, excessive dieting
  22. Being submissive, conforming, complying; dutiful, docile; good-goody, teacher’s pet
  23. Drinking heavily, using drugs
  24. Cheating in school, plagiarizing.

An Ironic Conclusion

Could it be that we adults–parents as well as all other societal authority figures–are unwittingly encouraging and inviting the very behaviors that we cannot tolerate in children? Is it possible that we are actually pushing children to behave in ways that we preach against, fear, and punish? Is it possible that we, the responsible adults (as we like to think of ourselves) who are running society and our families, are the ones who are ultimately responsible for pressuring our children of all ages to misbehave and rebel against us?

I have no doubt that this is the ironic conclusion we are forced to accept if we honestly look ourselves in the mirror and accept responsibility for our own disrespectful and abusive behavior of our children–through the completely unnecessary methods of power and control.


3 Steps to Parent-Child Harmony is my book  that describes in detail the differences between the Old School Parenting model and the New School Parenting model.  Please see these links if you are interested in more information or wish to purchase.

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