Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Sidestepping Power Struggles

Henchie Weinreb

At some point, nearly every parent will engage in a power struggle with their kids. Some feel these struggles have taken over their home. If you’re perpetually locked in confrontation with your children, here’s help.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

“Get dressed right now. We’re late! And there is NO WAY you’re wearing THAT shirt. I spent a lot of time picking out your outfit, and THAT’S what you’re wearing!”

“Sit down. Stop chewing with your mouth open. You’re going to spill that drink … Please! Do NOT reach over your sister to get the ketchup! Okay, now leave the table! And DON’T come back until you figure out how to sit like a mentsch!”

At some point in their parenting career, nearly all parents will engage in a power struggle with their kids. Some parents feel they’re locked in a perpetual power struggle with one or more kids — and that these struggles have taken over their home.

While a power struggle can take place between any two people, the parent-child relationship seems magnetically inclined toward these clashes. Why? And what, if anything, can parents do to reduce their occurrence? To answer these questions, we have to first understand a few important points about parent-child power struggles.

A power struggle happens when two people are locked in a battle over who’s in power. “Power” here means having authority — physical, mental, financial — over others, and the ability to use that authority to produce an effect.

In essence, power struggles are about two people, each of whom is saying, “I am in charge here.” This struggle for domination then segues into one of many gradations and variations, such as “I am fighting with you over who’s really capable,” “I can control you,” or “I’m stronger than you.”

Let’s look at the common mind-sets in connection to a parent and a child — and how we can move past them.


To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"