“When I was a child myself, however, I was told and thus believed that my purpose in life was to be a nice little girl. When I grew up, I found I was a very nice lady. By being “nice” I avoided situations that called for much power and yielded to others to avoid power struggles…..Luckily, my children have taught me differently.” – page 105
This chapter is all about empowerment and the need for all human beings to feel confident and competent. Power comes from the Latin word poder meaning “to be able.”
We cannot have a winning family if it is constantly about power, in a negative sense, where there are attacks and counter-attacks so someone in the family wins and someone in the family loses. This is essentially what the author calls “power taking”- when people try to dominate or disempower others. If this happens within a family, someone in the family will be victimized.
A winning family will “power share” – power is cooperative, mutual,nurturing. People share power within the family, and with this everyone’s personal power is expanded.
Power plays out in four different personality types:
- Powerless – the person is helpless, dependent, insecure
- Powerful – confident, capable, in control,
- Empowering – supportive, encouraging, challenging
- Overpowering – dominating, manipulative, arrogant, pushy
The author asks the question that if these were four people standing in a room, who would be attracted to each other? Who would avoid each other? This sort of reflection can help one look at the balance of power in the home, and look at the power distribution between the adults in the home and the relationship between the adults and the children.
The author also talks about how in general society has become a place of disconnection and competition and how the easiest way to reclaim the power by being divided and conquered is to unite with others who share the same common experience. There is a section about violence and how this impacts women and children as the primary victims and how children who are raised in violent homes also become victims. Instead of wounding our children and perpetuating the cycle of violence, we can learn to heal ourselves. The end of the chapter tackles gender and violence, and then has a section on “Family Empowerment.” Under family empowerment, the author lists things to teach our children:
- To be respectful of themselves and others
- To be responsible for their behavior
- That they have personal body rights
- To be assertive
- To be sensitive
- To be nonviolent
- To avoid dangers but to fight their battles
- To have high self-esteem – people who value themselves and others do not tolerate abuse
The chapter ends with, “Our homes can be a refuge – a haven of love and safety, a source of strength and support. You have the power to create a supportive and peaceful family where people are for, not against, each other. Children need to feel safe at home. So do you.”
The next chapter is about discipline without damage, and you won’t want to miss it!
Blessings and love,