If our children simply did everything we told them, followed the wisdom we handed them, wouldn’t parenting be a cinch? The muddiness inherent to parenting doesn’t come from a lack of love, but rather in not understanding our impact on our children and how to get our messages across.
For many years I struggled against an instinct to parent my strong-willed daughter using the “hard” power of commanding and controlling. When her behavior became risky in early adolescence, I realized it was time to make significant changes in how I communicated with my child. The result was a commitment to following the “soft” powers of connection, communication and cooperation. I employ these tools to this day, both with my 23-year-old daughter and in my work guiding families into healthy relationships.
The next time you find yourself in a heated situation with your child, I urge you to look inward and ask the following “soft” power question, “Is what I am about to say or do going to hurt or help our relationship?” I know the use of soft power in my parenting through the years is responsible for the heart to heart relationship we enjoy today. Do you want to feel close and connected to your future adult children? The building of that foundation begins today with actions that lead to heart-to-heart connection.