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No More Threats

Welcome to the Fabulous Hybrid Blog Carnival hosted by The Fabulous Mama Chronicles and Hybrid Rasta Mama. Enjoy the reflections on change in all of its many forms (more links at the end).

What comes to mind when I mention the word threat? Here’s the definition for reference, according to Merriam-Webster:

  • an expression of an intent to do harm
  • something that threatens
  • an indication of something impending

I will sum up those definitions with my own:

  • a tactic used to have power over, or control the actions of, another person

How often are threats used in the parent-child relationship? A question to consider deeply…

In my experience, threats are not conducive to creating a collaborative environment in our home or world. Yet, they are one of the top tactics that parents use to get kids to do what they want, to get control. If our hackles are raised, possibly it’s because we have some unresolved stuff about being controlled ourselves or question our ability to positively influence others without directly or indirectly controlling them.

This is exactly why I am bringing up the subject. I have seen myself resort to some sort of threat (attempt to control or have power in the situation) too many times. I’m not talking about just harsh threats, but any attempt to bait someone into doing what I want based on a future consequence (especially those that may be negative). I have been watching this tendency unravel itself for my entire life, although it is parenting that puts it in my face so I am actually doing something about it, allowing it to change.

Here are some steps I am taking to stop threatening and start collaborating; to create a home, family, and world where people don’t have to feel under or over – we can just work together. Some are in-the-moment while some are over-arching principles to guide my actions.

  • Notice when I feel a tense sensation in my body while I am interacting with my children, spouse, family member, or friend. The body provides signals and if I pay attention, I can work with them instead of stuffing or otherwise not honoring them. Tension generally precedes the desire or attempt to control.
  • Acknowledge that control and power over is not really what I want; it’s a tendency to grasp when I feel out of control, not heard, or otherwise may not see a solution to a perceived problem. This is huge! I choose whether or not I threaten anyone. If I take the time to stop myself and watch what is occurring in my mind and body I can choose to make another choice, to work together.
  • Declare what I do want. I may not want to threaten, manipulate, or control (however I may be able to rationalize such behavior) and I do want to work things out together, nurture a mutually respectful environment, and discuss whatever needs to be discussed. I do want to feel safe in my home, and for everyone else to also feel safe. I do want people to care for one another and to act quickly to help one another whenever reasonable. I do want communication that takes into account all perspectives. I do want to cultivate peace in our home.
  • Choose to listen. Sometimes (most times) just resting in a listening space inside myself allows me to realize that there is a solution present or through some either time and space apart or more conversation, a solution will present itself. A solution that feels collaborative to everyone.
  • Choose to stop, get space, and come back with an intent to work together when necessary. Much of our experience is about determination – and choice. We are really not dictated by the actions of others. The more I realize this the more I am able to choose how I work with the kids, how I see them, how I honor and respect them.
  • Learn and apply ways to encourage others that are not manipulative. I have never enjoyed being manipulated. I don’t want to do it to anyone else. It just feels slimy. Teaching myself other ways to relate to others is having a profound effect on my life. Just a drop the bucket of resources include: Eckhart Tolle, Alfie Kohn, Scott Noelle, Nonviolent Communication, Thomas Haller, Planting Seeds, and Chick Moorman. Here’s a link to more.
  • Embrace modeling as the most effective and positive way to nurture. Our kids follow us. While they are their own independent people, they live what they learn, what they see. As I take full responsibility for who I am and what example I set, I find much less of a desire to control and much more of an inclination to sit down, invite the children to participate, and work stuff out together – human to human.

How do you transform the tendency to control or influence others through the use of threats?

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Enjoy the submissions of other carnival participants…

Are you struggling as a parent? If so, I’d like to share something with you: a story and some hope.