Taking Control of Your Family

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Copyright 1999

First: You need to make your relationship with your husband stronger/closer. When you are close and care about each the bond between you is stronger. The children sense this and know that they can't play Mom or Dad against each other.

Second: The both of you represent the parental front. The parietal front has to be united and strong. This is the front or force that is the wall or boundaries that your children will constantly test or hit when they choose to see if the rules still have consequences. Children need these boundaries and so do the two of you, especially when they reach teenage years. They will run right over you if your wall is not strong and the both of you are not unified.

First: A Positive Change in the Marital Relationship

  1. Have a "Date Night" at least once a week.
  2. Have fun alone and enjoy each other's company.
  3. You don't have to spend money, necessarily, to have a date. Go window shopping, go for a walk in the park, go hiking, cloud watch for fun shapes, star gazing, farm out the kids and have a home candlelight dinner for two. Dress up for dinner and include romantic music.
  4. Whatever you do you both need to be on your best behavior. No arguing and no put-downs!
  5. No kids allowed. Make arrangements with other couples that need a date night to swap baby-sitting for each other.
  6. You need to stop tearing down each other because it leads to an abusive relationship and the destruction of the marriage. The following is a abuse continuum that builds upon each other and gets more and more abusive and violent as the relationship deteriorates. Check out how it happens....
Abuse Continuum
  1. Jokes about habits, characteristics, or faults of partner
  2. Ignoring or denying partner's feelings or needs
  3. Withholding affection or approval as punishment
  4. Yelling, shouting, invading partner's personal space
  5. Name-calling, insults
  6. Insulting or ridiculing beliefs, religion. family, race, etc. . .
  7. Repeated insults, labeling, and/or name-calling (e.g. "Stupid" "Jerk" "Crazy" etc. . . )
  8. Repeated humiliation (private an/or public)
  9. Controlling (insisting s/he dresses a certain way, having him/her account or his/her actions, controlling with whom s/he associates, not letting him/her have a job, not giving him/her a role in making decisions, etc. . .)
  10. Blaming partner for your abuse or behavior
  11. Manipulating partner with lies and contradictions (playing "mind games")
  12. Slamming doors, hitting walls, breaking objects (displays of anger and violence)
  13. Threats of violence or retaliation (either direct or implicit)
  14. Threats of violence to his/her family, children, friends
  15. Puts downs about abilities as a parent, person, worker, partner
  16. Demanding all partner's attention and resenting children
  17. Throwing objects at partner
  18. Jealousy (accusations, following him/her, making him/her account for his/her time. etc.. .)
  19. Isolation (scaring or driving away friends and family, insisting that partner not work or be involved in activities without you, depriving him/her money, etc. . .)
  20. Manipulating others against partner destroying meaningful possessions
  21. Threats to get custody, abuse, or kidnapping children
  22. Threats to hurt or kill him/her or children
  23. Suicide threats/attempts
  24. Hurting or killing pets
  25. Suicide/Homicid

(Excerpt from Male Awareness Program (MAP) in Anchorage, AK 1997)

Active Listening

Annette Nay, MS

  1. Most people do not truly listen. They are too busy planning what they will say when the other person pauses.
  2. Active listening is an art that takes practice, but it is not hard.
  3. This skill involves listen to everything the other person says, and trying to understanding it fully.
  4. When the other person speaks give your full attention and look her/him straight in the eyes.
  5. To understand it fully, the person needs to rephrase what s/he thinks s/he heard. Often times we each come from different backgrounds and have been taught what some words have a different meaning. Also we may not be seeing the same subject from the same point of view. Rephrasing will help you to find out if you both are on the same page, so to speak.
  6. If you rephrase what has been said and the person says, "No that's not it!" Then Listen for more information or ask questions to help you understand. Then when you think you understand fully, then you say, "Then what you are say is....." When the speaker finally agrees with you then you nave actually communicated and active listening has been a success.
  7. Example:
  1. Make joint rules that you both can support 100%.
  2. If you already have some rules that you both can support then make set consequences to go with these rules. Consequences are those sanctions or punishment that will be carried out every time that the rules are broken. Natural consequences are usually the best. Example of a rule and its consequence:
  3. RULE: You are responsible for what your friends do in our home.
  4. CONSEQUENCE: If your friends vandalize our home then:
  5. They are not welcome in our home
    will pay or work off the cost to replace the damage. So choose your friends wisely and don't let them do things they shouldn't. Explain the rules to them. Don't let them be alone in our home to do damage while you are elsewhere. You may ask for them to pay for the damage. You are grounded until the damage is worked off or paid for. Accidents do happen. We do not charge for honest accidents but we do for vandalism and accidents that are the result of doing things you shouldn't be doing.
  6. Work on rules that he likes that you can't stand or visa-versa. Bring them to the bargaining table along with ideas or solutions to make them workable, livable, and enforceable.

How to Carryout the Consequences

  1. There will be no more yelling! Just matter-of-factly say to the child, "I am sorry you chose to break the rule. Now ____________ will happen (the consequence). Then do it. There is not more reason for screaming. Your not frustrated, wondering what to do because you already know what to do. If you forget what the consequence is for this infraction just go look at the children's copy that is posted or your own copy.
  2. You may choose to help facilitate the child's ability to get through the consequence, but never do it for him/her. Example: Rule: You cannot go out with friends until your daily work is done. The child has not taken out the garbage and mopped the kitchen floor. Child's friend is at the door asking your child to come out to play. You say to your child, "Billy is at the door and wants you to go biking with him. You haven't had me check your work yet, let's go do that now." You and he go look. Take the book with the list of what has to be done. You can see that some things are done and other things are not. Dwell on the positive and play down the negative. You say, " I can see that the cupboards are cleaned off and so is the table. They look really good. Thank you! The dishes are put away. I know that chore is not one of your favorites. I'm glad you chose to do it early. Congratulations. Well, all you have left then is moping and the garbage out. Look, I know Billy is in a hurry to go so how long will it take you to get the garbage out in the can? About two minutes? Then all you have left is the moping. Look I know a way for you to it well and it doesn't take very long. I'll go get my favorite rag. It always does a good job, while you take the garbage out. Then we will have you out of here in minutes and Billy won't have to wait long either." You have just positively reinforced what the child did well or right and gave him a positive boost into finishing the rest painlessly for both of you. When he does finish praise him for doing is well and quickly. Give him a pat on the back. You both leave with a smile. That is positive facilitation.
  3. Before you levy a consequence take time to check out the whole story. A child's point of view may be wildly fabricated to let you hear what they think you want to hear. Do not let the first story you hear be the only point of view you have to act upon. At least 50% of the time you will be sorry. There is always time to seek out the whole truth. Then you can wisely levy the consequence. The child will not like it but s/he will know that you were fair and that s/he can get be treated fairly in the future, although they may not admit this out loud.
  4. There will be times that you have searched for the truth and there still seems at least two stories. Study it out the best that you can then make a decision. Then tell the children that you will be back in a few minutes that you will take it to the Lord. You should have them do the same. Then come back and discuss the results together.

Making a Job's List Book

  1. Get a three ring binder with plastic protector pages.
  2. Have a master book for yourself and one for the family.
  3. Put a section in the book for each child.
  4. In each child's section in the protector pages should appear a list of things the child is to accomplish to have his/her work done for the day.
  5. In the last section is the Jobs Descriptions section. For example: Clean the bathroom. Would have under it. Clean the toilet with a disinfectant. Listed under this would be: clean the top and sides of the tank, clean the top and bottom of the seat, clean the bowl inside and out, clean the base of the toilet and the floor around the toilet. Each item would be on a separate line so they would distinctly stand out and could bee seen in a glance. Each item to be cleaned in the bathroom would be written out just like it was done for cleaning the toilet.
  6. Instead of just giving the list to the child, the child receives on the job training. S/He cleans while you sweetly supervise the first time. That way the child knows exactly what clean looks like to you.
  7. In your family each day's work can be different or Monday through Friday can be the same with Saturday having extra responsibilities that can be saved for Saturday or done through out the week as time presents itself. Have the children come up with they're way to split up the jobs and when jobs rotate to another child.
  8. Deciding when the jobs will be done is a good thing for the children to decide democratically. That way they feel they have a say. This helps them buy into the whole process. It is their plan. This plan can change if the children wish it to. Your children may like to keep the same jobs for a month. Others like to have it change weekly or daily.
  9. It really doesn't when the jobs rotate as long as the work is done and checked off daily by a parent. This must be done consistently by both the children and the parents.
  10. Set a deadline for work to be done each day. Set consequences for its not being done.
Other Ways to stop the Yelling


1. Family scripture reading

2. Attend church together.

3. Family Prayer, morning and night.

4. Family Home Evening

5. Have Family Councils as needed. See the article "Family Council" under the section: Healthy Families.

6. Be consistent in enforcing the rules and the consequences.

7. Read and incorporate these articles into your family:

A Parent's Guide for Raising Children

A Contract with the Family's Youths for Optimal Family Living

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Annette Nay Homepage

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