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
- Have a "Date Night" at least once a week.
- Have fun alone and enjoy each other's company.
- 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.
- Whatever you do you both need to be on your best behavior. No arguing and
- No kids allowed. Make arrangements with other couples that need a date
night to swap baby-sitting for each other.
- 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....
- Jokes about habits, characteristics, or faults of partner
- Ignoring or denying partner's feelings or needs
- Withholding affection or approval as punishment
- Yelling, shouting, invading partner's personal space
- Name-calling, insults
- Insulting or ridiculing beliefs, religion. family, race, etc. . .
- Repeated insults, labeling, and/or name-calling (e.g. "Stupid"
"Jerk" "Crazy" etc. . . )
- Repeated humiliation (private an/or public)
- 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. . .)
- Blaming partner for your abuse or behavior
- Manipulating partner with lies and contradictions (playing "mind
- Slamming doors, hitting walls, breaking objects (displays of anger and
- Threats of violence or retaliation (either direct or implicit)
- Threats of violence to his/her family, children, friends
- Puts downs about abilities as a parent, person, worker, partner
- Demanding all partner's attention and resenting children
- Throwing objects at partner
- Jealousy (accusations, following him/her, making him/her account for
his/her time. etc.. .)
- 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. . .)
- Manipulating others against partner destroying meaningful possessions
- Threats to get custody, abuse, or kidnapping children
- Threats to hurt or kill him/her or children
- Suicide threats/attempts
- Hurting or killing pets
(Excerpt from Male Awareness Program (MAP) in Anchorage, AK
- Instead of ragging on each other, find things to brag on each other. It is
amazing the difference... You lift him up and he in turn lifts you up.
- Try to find the good points of your mate. See if you can rediscover the
things that that caused to fall in love with each other.
- Treat each other like newlyweds and see what happens.
- Spend time talking to each. Use active listening.
Annette Nay, MS
- Most people do not truly listen. They are too busy planning what they will
say when the other person pauses.
- Active listening is an art that takes practice, but it is not hard.
- This skill involves listen to everything the other person says, and trying
to understanding it fully.
- When the other person speaks give your full attention and look her/him
straight in the eyes.
- 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.
- 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
- Speaker: That teacher doesn't grade fairly.
- Lister: The teacher must grade on the level. An "A" is 90
and above. A "B" is 80 and above and so on instead of grading
on the curve.
- The Speaker really meant that she wouldn't let student make up tests they
missed not matter the reason.
- A person who is actively listening is not busy giving advise or
disagreeing or agreeing. The sole job is to listen and find out if what s/he
is hearing is correct.
- Active listening helps people to be closer.
Options Unlimited, (1990). Mediation.
Second: A Strong Parental Front
- Make joint rules that you both can support 100%.
- 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
- RULE: You are responsible for what your friends do in our home.
- CONSEQUENCE: If your friends vandalize our home then:
- 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.
- 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.
- All rule/consequence making is a closed door session.
- Children are not allowed.
- This is not a time for hot tempers. These sessions are to be done with a
prayer at the beginning for insight and cool tempers, and end with prayer
for thanks giving for the help! Always bring God to these bargaining
- You both must be able to support the rules and the consequences for not
keeping the rules every time, even when one of you is away.
- When a session is over, take the jointly decided rules and consequences to
the children together. He is the head of the home so he can present them but
the language should be such that the children know that the rules came from
both of you. Example: "Your mother and I have gone over these rules and
have decided consequences that will happen every time someone chooses to
break the rules." It is your job to look the children in the eyes and
nod your head that he has told the truth.
- After the rules and consequences are discussed with the children, post
them in a prominent place in the home that the children can see them. Keep a
second set for you, in case the children's copy gets destroyed or disappears
- As the children get older they will question the right of some rules to
exist. Have them suggest how the rule could be changed to make it fairer.
Tell them that you will take it up with Father to see if it will hold water,
so to speak. Rules need to grow with the children. Example: The time that a
child must be home in the evening will vary with the age of the child and
the circumstance. House hold chores will vary with ability and age of the
- You and your spouse know exactly what the rules are so when a child come
you one of you saying that the other said that something that is against the
rules is all right, you will instantly know that the child is not telling
the truth because a rule must be changed by both of you. The item is not
allowed to happen until a closed-door session is held by both parents to
discuss the issue at hand. In this way the children quickly learn that they
can not play one against the other. There should also be a consequence for
this shifty maneuver.
- Some parents make the mistake that because they now have adult children
living in them that they cannot tell the adult children how to act in their
home. This is untrue. Remember this is your sanctuary and the rules of the
home still stand for all who live there whether it be adult children of
aging parents who have moved in.
How to Carryout the Consequences
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Other Ways to stop the Yelling
- Get a three ring binder with plastic protector pages.
- Have a master book for yourself and one for the family.
- Put a section in the book for each child.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Set a deadline for work to be done each day. Set consequences for its not
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
A Contract with the Family's
Youths for Optimal Family Living
Annette Nay, Ph.D.
Annette Nay Homepage
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