How Control Damages Relationships

controlling mother

One big fear I had when my kids were young was of not being enough. I used control to manage it. I needed my kids to be well behaved to prove I was a good enough parent. So I tried to control them in public settings. The last thing I wanted was to be a controlling mother, but I forced them to behave. I thought if they weren’t quiet and calm, their behavior made me a bad mom. I thought others would see it and disapprove of me.

When I realized the damage I’d do if I continued to try to control my kids, I decided to let go. This two-step process helped me do that.

1. Overcome the lie.

First, I identified and verbally broke agreement with the lie that I am not enough as a mom. Then I identified and rehearsed the truth that I am a good mom. Family and friends told me that I am. I chewed on this mentally for a while. Eventually, the truth overpowered the lie and fear lost its grip on me.

Some common lies moms believe include I don’t know what I’m doing, when the truth is you know more than you realize. I have to meet other people’s standards is a lie, but the truth is there is no right standard. My family should look and act a certain way is a lie, and the truth is the only approval that’s important is your husband’s, your children’s, and your own. Being a good mom means no one makes mistakes is a lie, and the truth is mistakes are inevitable. They don’t determine a person’s value. And they help us grow.

2. Focus on your kids.

By replacing the lies with truth, I could tune out other people’s reactions to my children’s behavior and focus on what my children actually express when they act out in public. Instead of being embarrassed by an emotional outburst in a grocery store, I can calmly decide if the outburst is behavioral or emotional. Are they tired and in need of a nap or are they throwing a fit about not getting the cereal they want?

At first, it was hard to identify the truth because the lies seemed so real. But as I practiced this two-step process, seeing the truth got easier. Leaving notes for myself on my bathroom mirror helped remind me of the truth. I also had to pay attention when I acted controlling toward my kids. I reminded myself that disconnection is the result when control is a tool used in a relationship. That knowledge spurred me to break out of fear and be a confident parent.

What are some truths you can write down to remember when you are tempted to use control to manage fear?