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When Parents Are Dictators: 2 Mistakes and One Big Solution
By Jean Tracy, MSS
When parents are dictators, the family culture becomes miserable. Today let's explore two different dictating styles and one big solution. Let's find out how to make your family culture even better.
1. The Silent Dictator
He rules his family with no questions asked. His face somber shows no emotion and his voice is rarely heard. He intimidates with silence. When he does speak, members listen.
As a family counselor, I remember a dad who demanded his children drink a tall glass of carrot juice. Neither child could stomach it. The youngest thought, If I drink it fast, the taste won't last.'
The second child refused to drink it. He thought, 'You can't make me.' The dictator sat with him for one hour until he choked it down. Then he poured him a second glass.
Neither child forgot the experience. Because of this carrot juice incident and other rulings, one child became overly pleasing. Fear of displeasing others settled deep within her bones and affected her life's course. The second child rebelled. He complained about chores, schoolwork, and only wanted things his way.
One child walked on egg shells. The other dragged his stubborn feet. The dictator never knew both kids sneaked behind his back and did the things he had forbidden. He didn't know his dictating ways created a sneaky family culture filled with fear and rebellion.
2. The Tantrum Dictator
When a dictator bellows, members quiver. One mom's voice exploded throughout the neighborhood. She dominated her children with tantrums. The neighbors heard it and shook their heads.
This mother hated disorder so much that she seemed to use a magnifying glass to inspect her children's completed chores. Any little mistake with the dusting, a spot overlooked after mopping the kitchen floor, or a tool out of place in the garage could set her fuse on fire.
Oddly, her children made excuses for her to their friends, "Mom had a bad headache," they said. They knew that appearances counted. They needed to make their mother look good in order to make their family look good. Their family culture felt tense, uncomfortable, and unhappy because nothing was ever good enough.
The Parenting Problem
Most parents lose their tempers from time to time. That's normal. The problem comes when parents try to be in control of every minute of each family member's life. They make all the decisions about activities, behaviors, and rules. This extreme position causes fear, anger, and rebellion. It's not the kind of family culture most parents want.
Being the parent means you are your family's leader. Your age, experience, and wisdom can help guide your children. Your task is to raise healthy children with healthy personalities. Dictators don't do that.
The Big Solution An Exercise
If you feel you are making mistakes by dictating too much, try the following exercise.
Ask yourself these questions:
1. Would I like to loosen my inner demand to control everything?
2. Would I praise more and criticize less?
3. Would I like my family's input for solving problems?
If you answered yes, then imagine being that family leader
. Close your eyes.
. Take 5 deep belly breaths and relax.
. Remember a time when you handled being the parent leader role well. Stay with that picture.
. Notice exactly how you felt and what you did.
. Step into that picture for a few minutes and be that better parent.
. Take 5 deep belly breaths again.
. Look ahead to a probable family situation you'd like to handle better.
. See yourself listening, asking for solutions, and praising good ideas.
. Stay with that picture. Enjoy the new behaviors. Feel the new feelings.
. When you're ready, open your eyes.
. Do this before you fall asleep at night and before you rise in the morning.
If you have dictating tendencies, you can change. You don't need to use the silent treatment or temper tantrums. Use the solutions presented in this article.
Whenever you're in a challenging family situation, stop and think. Bring back the thoughts, good feelings and behaviors you developed from today's big solution exercise. Be the leader you want to be. Then notice the changes in your family culture.
Jean Tracy, MSS invites you to receive with our Free Parenting Newsletter:
1. 80 Fun Activities to Share with Your Kids
2. 101 Ways to Get Your Children to Cooperate
This video - Character Building: Problem Stories for Family Discussions promotes a healthy family culture.. Now available on Amazon.com