Enable or Empower?

Mine for Today
Mine for Today

paraphrased by Kristin, ideas taken from PositiveDiscipline.com

Eleven Enabling responses:

1. DOING TOO MUCH FOR THEM: Doing things for kids that they could do for themselves, (bailing them out after bawling them out). “I can’t believe you have procrastinated again. What will ever become of you? Okay, I’ll do it this time, but next time you’ll just have to suffer the consequences.”
2. GIVING THEM TOO MUCH: Buying everything they want, cell phones, cars, insurance, clothes you can’t afford, CDs, junk food. “Honey, I thought you would do your homework after I bought you a car, a cell phone, clothes I can’t afford, and gave you a big allowance.”
3. BRIBING AND/OR REWARDING. “You can have a new CD, allowance, cell phone, if you do your homework.”
4. OVERPROTECTING: What to wear, when to wear coats so they won’t get cold (as if they are too stupid to know or to learn on their own), picking their friends, extreme fear of danger. “Honey, you hurry and do as much as you can now while I pick out your clothes, and warm up the car so you won’t be cold when I drive you to school.”
5. HOVERING: Doing their laundry, waking them up in the morning, making their lunches, driving them places when they could walk or ride a bike, excusing them from helping the family because they have homework. “I just don’t understand. I excused you from chores, I woke you up early, I drove you everywhere so you would have more time, I made your lunches. How could this be?”
6. LYING FOR THEM: Excuses to the teacher, writing notes when they just slept in, I won’t tell Dad/Mom. “Okay, I’ll write a note to the teacher that you were sick this morning, but you’ll need to be sure and catch up.”
7. PUNISHING/CONTROLLING: Grounding, taking away privileges, creating your agenda for them. “Well then, you are grounded and you lose all your privileges, no car, no TV, no friends, until it is done.”
8. WHAT AND HOW LECTURES: Telling them what happened, what caused it to happen, how they should feel, and what they should do about it. “Well, no wonder. I saw you wasting your time on the boob tube and spending too much time with your friends and sleeping in. You should feel ashamed of yourself. You’d better shape up or you’ll be shipping out to live on the streets like a bum.”
9. HOW, WHAT, AND WHY CAN’T YOU LECTURES: “How many times have I told you to get your homework done early?” “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” “Why can’t you be more responsible?” “What will become of you?”
10. BLAMING AND SHAMING: “How could you ever do such a thing?” “How come you always forget and never get your homework done?” “I can’t believe you would be so lazy.”
11. LIVING IN DENIAL: “My child could never do such a thing.” Being oblivious to the cultural mores regarding sex and drugs. Believing things are dangerous without educating yourself. “Well, honey, I’m sure you don’t really need to do homework. It is a stupid thing for teachers to expect. You are smart enough to do just fine without it.”

(Kristin: Man! I need to work on #5!)

My definition of EMPOWERING is turning over control to your kids so they have power over their own lives.

Eleven Empowering responses:

1. SHOW FAITH: ʺI trust you to figure out what you need. I know that when itʹs important to you, youʹll know what to do.ʺ
2. RESPECT PRIVACY: ʺI respect your privacy and want you to know Iʹm available if you want to discuss this with me.ʺ
3. EXPRESS YOUR LIMITS: Share what you think, how you feel, and what you want without lecturing, moralizing, insisting on agreement, or demanding that anyone give you what you want. “Iʹm not willing to go to school to bail you out. When your teacher calls, Iʹll hand the phone to you or tell her sheʹll need to discuss it with you.ʺ A respectful attitude and tone of voice is essential. ʺIf you need my help with your homework, please let me know in advance.ʺ
4. LISTEN WITHOUT FIXING, DISCOUNTING, OR JUDGING: ʺI would like to hear what this means for you.ʺ
5. FOLLOW THROUGH WITH KINDNESS AND FIRMNESS. “I can see you are stressed out. I am excited to see how you will solve this problem.”
6. AGREEMENT NOT RULES: ʺIs now a good time to brainstorm about possible solutions?” or “Let’s put that on the agenda for the family meeting so we can work on an agreement.”
7. LOVE AND ENCOURAGE: ʺI love you just the way you are and respect you to choose what is right for you.ʺ
8. SHARE YOUR FEELINGS: By using the ʺI feel … ” or “It seems … ” These terms are accurate and don’t judge.
9. RESPECTFUL COMMUNICATION: ʺIʹm feeling too upset to talk about this right now. Letʹs talk about it when Iʹm not so emotional.ʺ
10. INFORMATION VS. ORDERS: ʺI notice you spend a lot of time watching television and then feel discouraged about getting your homework done.ʺ
11. ENCOURAGE LEARNING FROM MISTAKES: “I can see that you feel bad about getting that poor grade. I have faith in you to learn from this and figure out what you need to do to get the grade you would like.”

(Kristin: WOW! This is great instruction for all parents.)

5 thoughts on “Enable or Empower?”

  1. I love those Empowering Responses, Kristin. I need to do better in using them. Thanks for the great post. I’m so glad you’re taking this “leap” with your blog! And you are a REAL mom.

    1. Thank you, Susan. I am grateful for this chance to learn through sharing. You are a great mom! Devoted and deeply loving. Keep up the great work!

    2. Thanks Susan. Of course, I mean by “real” that I am showing the good AND the ugly, which doesn’t need to be said considering yesterday’s photo. Ouch!

  2. I am realizing how much I have to work on empowering instead of enabling. The line between enabling and nurturing is fuzzy to me…. Did you catch how I gave a haircut to Clark, living away from home in college a few miles away, in the middle of the night? I think that was over the line.

    But, But, I had been telling him I would give him one for a while, and he is so busy, and we just hadn’t gotten together, and he will be able to think so much better with cute hair, and…

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