In search of relationship

September 17, 2013
Photo Credit: Dennis Larson

Photo Credit: Dennis Larson

I’m teaching this amazing series in my new parenting Sunday school class.

This coming Sunday I will be teaching on the importance of making the transition from “Size and Position” parenting to “Relationship” parenting. We spend the majority of our kid’s lives in a “Size and Position” place of authority. Our kids do as we say because we are bigger, and we are the boss. Eventually, this type of parenting loses its effectiveness. Eventually, our kids get to the size where we can’t leverage our position or our authority anymore.

Lydia is fifteen and Jessica is fourteen. It took me a couple of years to realize that trying to leverage my position and authority was failing. I was convinced that if I pushed out my chest, and raised my voice high enough, I could get my children to behave.

It was around this time last year that I discovered the flaw in this thinking. I got into a disagreement with one of my daughters on the way to school. In my frustration and anger I told her to get out of my car. She refused my demands. I got out of the car, walked around to her side of the vehicle and attempted to remove her. I was completely unable to make my child do anything. I will never forget that day. It remains a powerful reminder that I won’t always be able to influence my daughters by leveraging my position or size.

I have two daughters who are teens, one daughter who is a year from being a teen and a fourth daughter who is only three years away. These are the years where my influence will be needed more than ever. For the next five to eight years all four of my daughters will be making some of the biggest decisions of their lives. They will begin to explore relationships. They will choose careers. They will begin to examine their faith at a deeper level. I want to maintain influence so I can guide them through the challenges that lay before them.

Navigating these teen years has been no easy task. Their desire for more autonomy scares me, because I’m afraid they will make poor decisions. I want to step in and force them to make good decisions. That’s my years of “Size and Position” parenting trying to break through, and I need to fight off that desire. Anyone can sling rules and guilt trips at their kids. Teens just don’t respond to “I’m the boss and you’re the kid” parenting.

The teen years aren’t about managing them anymore. It’s more about understanding the woman who is trying to surface. Hanging in the balance is either a man who is on the outside looking in, or a father who has earned a place of influence in his daughter’s heart, because he has built a relationship with her.

James Dibben


2 responses to In search of relationship

  1. You have always been a great dad!

    I wish someone had taught me that there is a transition that takes place from position to influence. It is hard to make the transition when for so many years you have to be in charge and in control. It makes sense that the transition takes place but being aware of the change helps.

    I think any mom and dad who have faced what we have would have struggled. It has been really tough at times. I don’t know any other dad out there who comes close to putting in the time and effort that you do studying, reading and listening to podcasts in order to learn and become a better dad. You are the best 🙂