Family Power

Family Power

by Ashley Corbaley

“The issues of power, control, and hierarchy are important in families. Issues regarding power are at the root of many family problems”- Richard Miller

Issues regarding power are important in families and are often the source of many family problems. Why is that?

I think that in life, power is something that is often sought for. We seek to have power over our own lives, over situations, over the things we cannot control. In families, the source of several disagreements or struggles often has a power struggle as the underlying cause.

Richard B. Miller gave an address at Brigham Young University, Who is the Boss? Power Relationships in the Family, in which he provided four statements to help set the standard of power in families: 

  1. Parents are the leaders in the family

“In healthy, well-functioning families, there is a clear hierarchy between parents and children. Parents are the ‘executive committee’ and the board of directors of a family” (Miller, 2008).

Parents are the leaders in a family relationship. Children should not be allowed to control, demean or replace the position of leadership that their parents have the right to have and maintain, in a healthy family circumstance.

  1. Parents must be united in their leadership 

“It is important that parents work together in their leadership in the family… It is vital that parents support each other in the presence of their children. If a parent disagrees on parenting issues, they should discuss these issues in an ‘executive session’ without the children present” (Miller, 2008).

Mother and fathers should work together when parenting. No one parent should be making all of the parenting decisions.

  1. The parent-child hierarchy dissolves when children become adults

“When children become adults, the relationship between parents and children changes. In healthy families, the parent no longer exercise control or expect their adult children to obey them” (Miller, 2008).

When a child grows up and leaves home, parents no longer have the power over their children that they once did. Parents now retire from their job as a coach and move to the sidelines. Of course adult children still need the love, support and guidance from their parents but not in the same ways they once did as children. Parents have every right to set standards for their grown children to abide by when they are under their roof.

  1. The marital relationship should be a partnership 

“Healthy marriages consist of an equal partnership between a husband and a wife… Husband and wives do have different responsibilities, but they function as equals (Miller, 2008).

Husband and wife should work hand in hand. I heard it once that a husband can be compared to one hand and the wife compared to the other. Separately they can accomplish tasks, but together they are much stronger and united in purpose.

Every member in the family unit is important and serves a different function. Understanding our roles in our family can lead to greater peace and less contention.

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