In my work as a private parenting instructor, I have had wives bring in their husbands asking me to teach them a more gentle way of parenting. Often the complaint is that the husband is too critical with the children. One wife complained that her husband threatened their young daughter that she “wouldn’t live past age 18” if she didn’t behave. I know the father didn’t mean it. He was frustrated and hadn’t learned from his own childhood how to encourage cooperation.
So far, I have not had a husband bring in his wife with the same complaint.I know that women “lose it” as well and yell hurtful remarks and criticism.Everyone can learn how to check themselves when the fuse is lit.
I love fathers. I had an amazing dad that I adored. I have been married for almost 25 years to a very caring husband and dad. Many men learn to use power over others to gain control and get what they want. This is often the business model. Then they come home, and the kids don’t obey. Dads don’t have the power IN THE SAME WAY at home as they do at work.
I have worked with many dads trying to help them shift their perspective from using “hard power” to a more “soft power” approach. The model of working with children is more loving and compassionate and builds an atmosphere of mutual respect.
If you are interested in reading more about the studies behind the concept of working with children, I suggest reading Alfie Kohn’s book Unconditional Parenting. Check out my future posts where i will be talking more about “Soft Power.”
Men can learn new ways of thinking, believing and acting so they can develop the close relationship with their children that I know they want. It isn’t weak to set limits with love and listen to the upsets that may follow.
Do you struggle with not being controlling and harsh with uncooperative children?
Cynthia Klein, Certified Parent Educator, www.bridges2understanding, speaker, private parenting educator, Middle School Mom columnist for Parenting on the Peninsula magazine.