Parenting in the Space Between Power and Powerlessness

by Sanya Pelini August 24, 2017

Mother daughter decorating a cup cake 

Authentic power has been defined in many ways. It is frequently associated with Gary Zukav, who has defined it as the “alignment of the personality with the soul (with harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life).” The authors of the book Authentic Parenting Power suggest that most adults struggle with parenting because they are yet to learn to manage their power and their powerlessness. They believe that to transform our relationships with our kids, the paradox we all must understand is that we are less powerful than we want to be but more powerful than we realize.

Demonstrating authentic power

1 | Parenting is a partnership

Parenting with authentic power means accepting that true power is not synonymous with control. We do not acquire power through dominance, but rather by being in touch with our inner selves and fostering relationships built on trust, cooperation, and harmony. Parenting with authentic power means drawing on our instincts to create a balance of power. Parent-child relationships work best where mutual respect reigns. When kids know that their opinion counts, they are more likely to come to us when something is bothering them. Research suggests that kids raised in families where negotiation is a common practice are better behaved and have better relationships with their parents. Negotiation can be a powerful tool for resolving family conflict.

2 | Find your own parenting voice

Authentic power is about parenting with your personal values in mind. It is about finding your own parenting voice by blocking out all the other voices. Parenting with authentic power means connecting with your inner self and reflecting on the kind of kid you want to raise and the kind of parent you want to be.

3 | Authentic power is not about threats and punishments

Parenting with authentic power is not about using aggression, coercion or manipulation to get our kids to “behave.” There is little need to try and control your kid when he knows that you are fair, honest, and have his best interests at heart. Loving your kid is not synonymous with controlling him. It is about being clear about your expectations but being receptive to his views. It is about establishing clearly defined limits and imposing them consistently with love.

4 | Walk the talk

Parents with authentic power are worthy of trust. They model the behavior they would like to see in their kids. If you expect honesty from your kid, you have to set the example by being honest yourself, every time. Kids are highly likely to pick up the behavior we consistently model for them.

5 | Know what each of your kids needs

Kids are rarely similar and rarely do they share the same needs. The best way to know what each of your kids needs is to practice attentive listening. Attentive listening is one of the main characteristics of parenting with authentic power. It means acting in ways that show her you care about what she has to say. Attentive listening means shutting out all the noise such as distractions and multi-tasking and connecting with your kid. It means listening without judgment or without thinking about how you’re going to respond or the quick solution you’re going to propose. Remember you might not think it’s a big deal but it might be very important for your kid. Being an attentive listener also means knowing when it’s not about you. Criticism doesn’t help much, nor does pointing out everything wrong they did and how you would have done it differently. Attentive listening is also about knowing when to ask questions and which questions to ask. You can’t ask appropriate questions if you don’t know what the real issue is. Remember to listen to what is said and to what is left unsaid. Parenting with authentic power is really about giving your kid freedom within a structure.

Sanya Pelini


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