On the other side of the scale, often at the track we see groups of people or individuals having their active lives controlled by others in a way I used to think was good but now I wonder. You know, the guy with the stop watch, waiting for a client to finish the lap. The coach screaming at a bunch of adolescent rugby players that they're "pussies ... lazy SOBs etc. etc". The parents who turn running around the track into their version of a nightmare. Kid version = running around randomly on and off grass, perhaps on the track, occasionally backwards, sideways, skipping. Parent version means all eyes to the front and proceed at speed.
Sometimes in my quest for the healthy, nicely shaped body (I didn't say the "perfect" word), I'd like to relinquish control to some third party. Someone who will tell me fitness wise, what to do and when and how much of it. Ditto with food, how much, when and what. But as in fitness and health, so in life and so in parenting. The only way is to take control, or if you're the controlling party is to give control.
I was chatting with one of the ladies I volunteer with. She's a grandmother and she was lamenting that her daughter is (a) very controlling, and (b) controlled by her 4 year old grandson. How ironical is that. I was telling her about my fellow cellist telling me how hard it was to kill a baby (can't find the link, but it's out there somewhere on my blog), and how dads need to be able to forge a relationship with their kids WITHOUT the interference of mum. No matter how competent mum is or how incompetent dad is, the relationship and muddling through is more important than whether the clothing matches or the nappy is on the right way. She said her daughter would never let that happen as she was too controlling and always criticized her husband. Luckily said husband was all for harmony and just let her nag on. But then, the son, didn't drink water, only juice. Yes, he already had 3 cavities, but he refused to drink water. And when she tried to go out and leave her son with her husband, the boy cried so much that she had to come home. That was the point where I said it was hard to kill a baby. Even if they cried until they got sick. How we create our own monsters.
My daughter is doing a big group project at school at the moment. 5 girls and a deadline. Luckily she's maintaining her sense of humour but it's beyond interesting hearing her debrief every afternoon. Oh I'm so glad I've left the work floor and don't have to manage or participate in any groups. The girl they're having the most difficulty with? The one who has learnt (yes of course, you're not born with this behavior), that if she sulks or whines long enough she gets her way. The one who needs the final word. The one, when things goes wrong, puts her head in her hands and laments what a disaster it is for 30 minutes, while the rest of them say "oh, damn" and just get on with fixing the issue. I listened to her stories, and just asked her to imagine what this child's home life must be like if this is the way she responds to people and issues around her. I put on my "MBA" hat (that expensive year has to have been good for something) and told her about the models of conversation that one could employ in those situations, the acknowledging the feeling, allowing it, putting a time limit on it and then back to business. By the way I've been getting these emails from "Vital Smarts" and they have some pretty good "scripts" on handling stuff (aka people) and issues.
It's easy to be a controlling mother (or father I guess, but the man in our life is so not controlling that it's not an issue), I'd even go so far to say that it's "default mode" for a lot of us alpha female ex-corporate types. The interesting thing is when you start to let go of being controlling (your kid, their school, education, life, activities) you also let go of being controlled. Same stick just a different side. The only control needed is self control. Now that's a different story.