How to be a Less Controlling Parent

L.R. Nost Quote

While at a campground over Memorial Weekend I noticed how many of the teenagers hung out in a building called The Hub. At first, I thought why in the world would these kids be hanging inside playing video games, sitting on their computers and phones instead of going outside. But then I realized that was the controlling mom in me. Growing up I spent most of my time outside in pools, tree houses and riding quads and snowmobiles. We tend to assume that kids’ childhoods should be just like ours. We say things like when I was a kid we…which basically is the same as being told when I was your age I walked up-hill in 6ft of snow and we know how much we loved hearing that.

Why as parents do we try to control everything? Or I should really say why as mothers do we try and control everything? I feel like there are more of us mothers out there controlling things than fathers, not to leave you guys out but it just seems that way. In a book I am currently reading, Let It Go by Karen Ehman she says “I don’t believe any woman sets out to be a bad mom”. We just somehow fall into the control freak role.

I think back to times when my son did something I asked and I came in and basically pointed out all that he had missed while cleaning his room or how he had folded the towels wrong or how he missed something on the dishes. Why not just say thank you. If you want to hear more about how we ladies don’t even say thank you when people are complimenting us read a previous blog of mine The Art of Saying Thank You. It is burned into our brains to find the things that are not done exactly right and point them out in everything.

Ehman tells us to “back up the minivan and try this again, this time with a fresh dose of perspective and a God-glorifying and Spirit-controlled response.” We could praise for all the good they did in whatever tasks you asked them to do and make mental notes of how to teach alternate methods in the future if necessary. She notes you also should keep in mind the age-appropriate approach. This is hard for me as I still want to believe my now 17-year-old is no older than say, 12.

Ehman provides seven questions to help keep from micromanaging your children.

  1. “Does it matter now?”
  2. “Will it matter tomorrow?”
  3. “Will it affect eternity?”
  4. “Is God trying to teach me something? If so, what?”
  5. “Can I pause and praise instead of interrupt and instigate?” (Am I the only one who sees flashing lights with an arrow pointing at this one?)
  6. “Is there really an issue here that needs addressing with my child?”
  7. “Am I just being a control freak, and do I need to let it go?”

It also is important to think about where The Hub is in your home. These kids were not just sitting on their electronic devices they were talking with friends. They were relaxing in their own way. Everyone needs a hub where conversations happen. In your home where is your hub? Where is a comfort place where no control is allowed and only open and honest discussions happen?

Maybe as a solution, you start there. Create a safe zone environment so that you don’t fall into micromanaging mom all the time and when you do you can safely discuss or apologize when you mess up. Yes, mothers, it is okay to admit when we mess up and apologize for our controlling behavior.

In my home, it is our room. The kids come there to talk about problems. They come lay in our bed when they are sick. They come there to watch movies with us. It is also interestingly enough where a certain style of decoration does not reside. I don’t allow any control within myself to apply to my room. There are mismatched pictures on the walls with paintings the kids made and other random things. My bed is never made and the room is often a mess. I allow this one room to be messy and control freak free.

In the same book, I mentioned it later talks about having “soul control”. One particular method of soul control that stood out to me was, “Soul control is learning to idle our brain before we engage our mouth, thereby saving ourselves a boatload of heartache, wounded relationships, and regret.” This is hard folks, especially if you know me and my mouth, but a wise person in my small group for this book said we have to train our soul. We mess up sometimes but we keep training and eventually we will get better.

What method do you try to help keep yourself from micromanaging your family?

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