Power Parenting


May 8, 2014
I watched this interesting video today (don't worry, the link goes to a transcript) about how to raise children who are less vulnerable to molestation or, when they get older, to abusive relationships.

Here's the link.

This isn't a matter of blaming victims and survivors for not being strong-willed enough to speak out, or not being smart enough to get into that situation. It's how parents can encourage a good sense of confidence for their children to follow their instincts.

No parent really wants their children to be victimized (I should hope this is the case!) but before it reaches any point of victimization, many parents have, frankly, influenced their children not to listen to their instincts and influenced children to keep silent when attacked.

Sometimes, healthy boundaries have to be taught or conditioned...and grown-ups can be the ones with unhealthy boundaries that people very rarely notice because it isn't extreme or harmful in its own context. Only the long-lasting, wide-range, eventual effects of such a parental mindset eventually prove to be harmful.

So, the video contains four suggestions of alternatives to parenting situations that won't undermine the willpower of a child:
1. Consistency in demonstrating and showing what "no" and "stop" mean, instead of ignoring it on occasion because tickling (for example) is a fun and harmless situation,
2. Not contradicting when a child expresses their feelings, because for many children the word of a parent can still naturally be trusted as a more accurate reflection of reality than the child's own--but when a parent gets thoughtlessly insistent about that, then that can lead to a weak and subservient attitude on the part of the child,
3. Courtesies to extended family and family friends should continue to be observed, but physical affection should be optional, so ask first if the kid wants to hug Uncle Joe hello--or wave hello instead, to give the child options, and
4. Adjust to a general attitude that age and size should not indicate more importance. Let's not teach children that power--the sort that comes from oppression of others through privilege and not action/virtue--and plays on that power is the foundation of any and all relationships.

That fourth point might be one of more consternation, at least it is for me. I was a precocious child, and had for as long as I could remember wanted to be recognized and respected by the people in my life, most of whom were adults. Now that I am an adult, I still believe that children should not go through a lot of the dismissiveness that I had been subject to as a child, because I don't feel much less rational today than I was as a frustrated child. I might know some more facts of life, but nothing that I don't think I wouldn't have understood as a child had it been properly explained.

So, I keep giving young people a chance, and treating them the way I wish I could have been treated.

And I am always, always, always been proven wrong to give any child under eight that chance to be recognized and respected. Without exception: They lie and exaggerate. They get distracted when there are important matters at hand. When confronted with something they did wrong, they say, "I'm (so-and-so age)" when I was not like that, at even younger than that age.

The only similarity is when I do what I swore never to do, and presume authority, then younger people do become intimidated. They begin to act obediently, apologize when told they were wrong, seem like they pay attention, and even seem to really be learning--which solves a lot of problems but leaves a pretty big one.

That is, the troubling question: Isn't the power structure between adults and children necessary?

I don't believe that it was, for me, and it did far more harm than good to have any trace of at all--but we're long past that point and I'm beginning to think that I was just a freak, so my own childhood isn't the sort of life experience I can go by when it comes to how to treat children. I might be fighting conditioning that I never had myself (that is to the concept of childhood, even though I felt, remember, and still loathe the powerplay--probably why I never truly accepted the concept of having a childhood as separate or different from having a life).