Manipulation and Conflict

I sometimes wonder about, and am saddened by, those who believe and/or teach that children are ultimately manipulative and that every time they do not do as we wish, that it is a power play. Unfortunately, this view is widespread thanks to some books, about which I’ve ranted previously. It saddens me because I think it convinces parents to see their child as an enemy of sorts, someone who is out to dominate the parents and must be dominated instead.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I expect my children to listen and follow directions, but I do not do so in a dictatorial manner, nor do I think they are trying to manipulate me or being deliberately antagonistic. Most of the time, they are simply exploring their abilities and boundaries. Charlotte has absolutely no fear of anything, so I must insist on some boundaries for her safety. When she runs farther than she should, she isn’t being disobedient really, but wants to explore. This isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, and I explain that I’m trying to keep her safe and scoop her up. Some could perhaps interpret her behaviour as defiant, but I do not.

If I did subscribe to that view, though, I can only imagine the stress I would feel at constantly believing myself to be undermined, contradicted, manipulated, etc. I would imagine that my relationship with my children wouldn’t be as strong, for I would see myself as working against them, and not with and for them. And maybe I’m wrong and those subscribing to that view don’t feel like that, but it seems the logical conclusion in my mind. At least, it’s what I think I would feel if I believed my children were manipulating me all the time. I will instead continue to try parenting with respect, especially when I need to correct a behaviour, and working with my children. In short, I will try to parent according to the Golden Rule, by the grace of God.

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2 thoughts on “Manipulation and Conflict

  1. Looking back on my childhood, I can say that at times what my parents had told me not to do just went right out of my head because I was caught up in the moment. It wasn't because of conscious rebellion. To manipulate requires lying. If kids are raised to tell the truth and given appropriate consequences for lying – in fact, if they are given consequences for anything they do wrong, they are not likely to end up being manipulators.Kids want to feel really loved. If they feel this, they won't want to disappoint parents. So I believe you are on the right track. I have to wonder about people who write books that say kids are frequent manipulators. I wonder if they are raising their kids to love God, His laws, and practice self-denial.

  2. Yes, I agree. Something I think is really sad, though, is that the books I know of that speak of children as manipulators are supposedly Christian parenting books. 😦 I'm sure there are secular ones that say similar things, probably, it's just that the ones I know are Protestant books, and are therefore more trusted in Christian circles. Sad.

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