Leveraging children teaches them how to use leverage. I’m talking when we as parents us emotional leveraging, physical forcing, taking stuff away, and threatening.
The will lean all about leveraging through their interactions and I they’ll get REALLY good at it. They will eventually find your leverage point and start using it.
There will come a point you’ll have a tiger by the tail and they will know how to push your buttons and get what they want. You will lose control and they will gain control.
Or, things will get messy and really challenging as you both try to leverage each other. Ask any parent who has been through this and is having power struggles with a strong willed teen who is well practiced in the art of leveraging.
Also, what happens when the child grows up and you have no more leverage?
They leave home and then what?
You can’t take away their ipad or phone anymore. What then?
What are you left with then? What kind of relationship is left in the wake of all these power struggles?
Leveraging might work in the moment, but it might not yield what you want: a strong relationship, mutual respect, and a child developing their own motivation and internal compass.
It might be a bit harder in the short term, to resist the temptation to exert power over to get things done. It could be challenging to figure out how to gain cooperation by enrolling your children in a positive family culture.
But it can be done and it pays off big time.
It pays off in ways that make the home so much more peaceful and enjoyable.
Imagine kids contributing and cooperating not because they are threatened, but because that’s simply the culture of the home.
One of my dreams as a Dad was this:
To be able to simply ask one of my kids to do something and they do it without argument, complaint, or attitude (most of the time). This was the dream not because I want compliance, but it would demonstrate that I had succeeded in creating a culture of contribution.
I did not want to have to use leverage. I thought to myself that leverage is a slippery slope. Leverage will have to increase and increase over the years to gain more and more compliance. Threats will have to get bigger, and may eventually stop working.
Leverage also teaches that the thing I am asking them to do isn’t reasonable. If it was reasonable, I wouldn’t need to leverage them. In this way, I would be teaching my kids that there must be something wrong with the thing I’m asking them to do, if I have to leverage them to do it. I don’t want to teach that.
I would be creating resistance and entitlement.
So, I brainstormed and reverse engineered this dream of mine. I did not use leverage. I use relationship capital and other good leadership qualities to create a culture of being on the same team and contributing to the home.
I made some mistake along the way and have reverted back to abruptly taking a phone away out of frustration in order to satisfy an immediate desire for power… and to “make a point.” But that act came from hurt, from being triggered. So, I try not to make those actions the mainstay of my parenting.
Now, more of my time is spent on building the culture of a home where we help each other and contribute. And… it seems to be working.
How do you think you could create a culture of contribution and cooperation?