There is a sickness which is often ignored or neglected in treatment or seeking for treatment. Parent(s) with coercive control syndrome. Please seek treatment. You are hurting your child.
What is Coercive Control?
Maypole define it as an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim
The Tactics include domestic violence: ‘violating physical integrity’, causing fear and physical harm
intimidation and humiliation: ‘denial of respect and autonomy’ using threats, surveillance (eg stalking), degradation (eg name calling), emotional withdrawal, destruction of possessions
isolation: undermining and deprivation of social contacts and support
control: of resources required for autonomous decision making and independence, including
deprivation of money and food
monitoring of time
restricted mobility and transportation
restricted access to communication
There is a longer list here, from The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence.
(continue here: https://www.dhs.state.or.us/caf/documents/Parenting_in_the_Context_of_Coercive_Control.pdf)
Dear Dr. ,
I am the mother of three children, ages 10, 13, and 15. My question is how parents can help their children make and keep New Year’s resolutions and goals. Also, how do we help keep our children accountable throughout the year, especially when we see our own resolutions slipping?
When we “help” children do anything good, . . . this is a function of “influence.” There are three fundamental ways of influencing others:
Coercion motivates by Fear. Others will conform to coercive influence out of fear for the harsh consequences that will come crashing upon them. Conformity means that a person will at least try to “look like” they are doing what is desired; but those oppressed by coercive influence rarely put their whole heart into a task.
Modes of Coercion: Control, Intimidation, Threat, Demand, Manipulation, Bullying, Criticizing, Rage, Anger, Revenge, Guilt.
Coercive Influence is Temporary & Reactive. The “apparent” desired behavior only happens as long as a fear-producing threat is present.
* * * * * * *
Cooperation motivates by Fairness. Others will do what you want them to do . . . because a cooperative contract is in place: You do this for me, . . . and I’ll do this for you. In latin the idea is expressed as Quid Pro Quo, . . .”something for something.”
Modes of Cooperation: Exchange, Dicker, Deal, Trade, Barter, Contract, Negotiate, and Compromise.
Cooperative Influence is Functional & Reactive. The exchange is pragmatic and mutually beneficial, but the desired behavior only happens as long as a payoff is in place.
* * * * * * *
Compassion motivates through Honor. Others will do what they do, . . . because they honor you — honor that is freely chosen and proactively initiated, it is neither coerced or purchased by a bargain.
Modes of Compassion: Inviting, Accepting, Acknowledging, Respectful, Patient, Kind, Gentle, Loving, Space-Giving, and Open to Creative Possibilities.
Compassionate Influence is Sustained & Proactive. Desired behavior endures beyond moments of direct influence, because those who feel compassionate influence do what they do from heart-felt independence; the experience of loving influence inspires others to live with honor.
* * * * * * *
Obviously, if parents will influence their children optimally in setting and getting good goals, . . . they will do it through compassionate influence, . . . only then will the children do what they do because they own it, . . . and they feel it. This is the way of Honor.
The setting and getting of all good goals stands upon the foundation of a person’s integrity of character. Parents can best instill integrity in their children as they demonstrate that compassionate pattern by example. Parents must “live” the same pattern and principles to which they invite their children.
The “goal” of higher character is a foundational one. When high character is firmly in place, productive goal setting and goal getting naturally flows therefrom.
In the end, you can’t MAKE your children behave, because “good behavior” comes from the heart, and you can’t FORCE the motivations of the heart. Parents may be able to COERCE compliant behavior on the outside, . . . but COERCION cannot cause children to obey on the inside! In the end, parents should encourage and invite “obedient behavior” . . . and not merely “compliant behavior” in their children.
The choices are these: You can be a
Sheepherder or a Shepherd.
Two approaches that parallel
Coercive Influence vs. Compassionate Influence:
The Sheepherder uses Coercive approaches. The Sheepherder drives the sheep from behind with sticks of punishment, and harsh verbal commands. The sheep “comply” because they fear the wrath of the sheepherder. The Sheepherder is compulsive and reactive; the sheepherder reacts on impulses of emotion. The sheepherder flies off the handle and dreams up punishments “on the spot” in the heat of anger . . . AS a child’s bad behavior appears. The sheep eventually learn to fear, avoid, and inwardly hate the sheepherder.
The DOWN side of being a Coercive Sheepherder is this: Children will only comply with the “speed limit” while the cop is on the highway . . . and when the cop leaves . . . the children will go any “speed” they want, and act in undisciplined ways, . . . for they have not been taught the law . . . or been shown the “living law” by example.
The Shepherd uses Compassionate approaches. The Shepherd leads the sheep from the front. The Shepherd sets an example of how the sheep should behave from the heart. The Shepherd teaches the sheep the law by which the flock will be governed, and also teaches the attached consequences (as opposed to punishments) that will occur if the law is not obeyed. The sheep learn to love the shepherd, because the shepherd loves them.
The Shepherd is fair and always acts within laws that are clearly established & explained BEFORE a child’s bad behavior appears.
The UP side of being a Compassionate Shepherd is this: There is no need for policing the “speed limit,” . . . for the children have been taught the law and know the value of living with honor; further they “honor” the shepherd because the shepherd loves and trusts them. They know that the shepherd loves them because they see the “living law” in the way they are treated.
To be Shepherds to their children, Mom and Dad need to get on the same page as to the “laws of family,” . . . fair laws that are established for the benefit of the children, . . . peace of mind for the parents, . . . and the order of the household.
Establishing “Family Laws” in a Family Council
When Mom and Dad are on the same page (literally, . . . a page of written expectations, duties, tasks, etc.), then Mom & Dad assemble a family meeting. In the family meeting, instead of “laying down the law” . . . the children are asked for their input on this question:
What can we all do to have a happy, orderly, and peaceful home?
In the family meeting, Mom & Dad discuss with their children the expectations on school homework, times for play, chores to be done, rules of the household, etc. And to help the children see why they need to be contributors to the order of the household, parents might ask these questions:
Who will pay for the food we eat? Who will prepare the food we eat? Who will pay for the roof over our heads? Who will clean the house that we live in?
That Mom & Dad work hard to be providers should NOT be taken for granted by the children. Because the children benefit from food and shelter, they need to be helpful contributors to the orderly & peaceful functioning of the home.
The reason why parents should ask children for their input is guided by a principle:
That which children help create,
they will support.
If Mom & Dad simply “lay down the law,” the children will always perceive that “law” . . . as “Mom & Dad’s law.” In contrast, when children have input and influence on the laws of the household, they will tend to see the governing structure as “The Family Law.” Thus, they will view it as THEIR LAW. they will have ownership of it . . . because they helped create it!
As for “accountability,” when expectations, chores, duties, etc., are agreed upon . . . THEN parents ask their children:
What should be a consequence
IF someone fails to follow through with the family laws?
Within Parent-Child relationships, the most effective consequences are not merely punitive, i.e., going to jail, getting flogged, or being put in “the stocks.” Instead, the best consequences are ones that are mutually agreed upon in a Family Council, and are naturally connected to the behavior that went against “Family Law.”
For example, if a bed is not made in the morning, a connected consequence may be . . . to “make the bed.” But not just that person’s bed, . . . a negotiation can be agreed to . . . that the violator of “bed making” receives the consequence of making everyone’s bed the next morning? When consequences are harder to do . . . than simply following the law in the first place, . . . then those consequences will be an effective learning experience that teach and reinforce obeying the Law from the start.
If parents have deeply ingrained “sheepherder” tendencies . . . then . . . it is a most wise for them to consider “Changing Their Stripes.” For if they don’t change, . . . such parents will “pass on” their unhappy legacy of coercive influence to the next generation.
Becoming the kind of parents that children will love, respect, and honor . . . is an influence that will be felt for decades to come.
When it comes to goal setting . . . beginning with the best goals is essential:
In setting goals, one must realize that not all goals are worth getting. To arrive at the best destination . . . one must begin the journey by moving the correct direction. This idea is addressed in my book:
Beginning Right: Good Questions, Good Answers. To arrive at good answers, we must first ask good questions! When we start with bad questions, we begin wrong . . . and thus, we will most likely end wrong. Asking unsound questions leads to second-class solutions. When our premise is poor, it’s hard to acquire the prize. But the truth is . . . we would not be asking a bad question, if we knew it was bad to begin with, . . . right? The saying goes:
It’s not what you don’t know that makes you a fool;
but what you “think” you know, . . . that ain’t so!
Beginning with a bad assumption is like climbing a ladder leaning against the wrong wall . . . It leads to “progress” . . . that ain’t progress at all! So, to begin right, it is wise to question the question, . . . thoroughly double-checking assumptions before launching into an avenue of inquiry. But how do you know when you’ve got a good question? (Changing Your Stripes, page 157)
Just as entertaining bad questions is a waste of time and energy, setting bad goals is equally unfruitful. When it comes to goal setting for children and young adults, they are especially vulnerable to beginning wrong . . . because they sometimes assume that the “bad examples” in their circle of influence are doing what should be done; and so they follow ill-advised trends and traditions and get their goals from unstable sources.
Every good goal must be weighed against the standards of integrity. An excerpt from my book speaks of the “social pull” to pursue the popular and appealing way, . . . instead of the compassionate and fulfilling way:
(continue here: http://www.calldrmatt.com/Parenting.htm)