The Art of Allowing: Parent Control from the Inside Out

Chick Moorman and Thomas HallerBy Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller
The old parenting paradigm calls on the parent to control the child. Be in charge. Make the decisions. Set the rules. Enforce those rules. Exercise your rightful parenting authority or your children will become unruly, undisciplined, and out of control.
But hold on. What if it isn’t so? What if a controlling parenting style breeds resistance, resentment, and reluctance? What if it creates defiance or the opposite, blind obedience? What if it fails to produce children who think for themselves, develop a healthy inner-authority, and become decisionally literate? 
The power struggles or meek compliance resulting from a heavy parenting control style often breed strained relationships, unempowered children, and frustrated parents. If you are not enamored with the results of attempting to control your children, you might want to examine a shared control style that often leaves the parent with more control than they had to begin with. Consider the art of allowing.
Allow your children by…
1.     Offering controlled choices. “You can pick the sweatshirt with the hood or the heavy sweater. You decide.”  “We are having milk for dinner. Would you like to choose the pink cup or the green one? The parent controls the choice and the child is allowed to have some control over his own life.
2.     Instigate opportunities for consensus seeking. Allow children to have input on where you go on vacation, how you divide household chores or when the family participates in study time. By having some say they learn to use their voice to help create the life they desire.
3.     Eliminate commands.  “Turn the TV off,” can be replaced with “It’s time for bed.” That change of language allows the child to make the choice to turn off the TV. “I am being bothered by the noise in the other room,” is less commanding than, “Quiet down.” “I am being bothered by the noise in the other room,” communicates without words, “I think you are smart enough to figure out what to do.” It allows the child to come up with an appropriate response.
4.     Ask questions. “Why do you think that?” “How are you going to handle that?” “What do you think you will do next time?” These types of questions allow the child to do the thinking.
5.     Show empathy and compassion. Resist running in immediately with solutions. Stop offering unsolicited advice. Show compassion first by leading with empathy. “That must really be frustrating,” allows the child to hear your concern and empathy and prevents you from saying, ‘You need to tell your teacher you need help.” “What a shame. That’s terrible, communicates the empathy that allows the child to feel the feeling rather that having to consider your solution to their problem.
6.     Don’t care. Stop caring if your child completes her homework or not. If she chooses not to do it at school then she is choosing to do it on Saturday. Allow her to care whether or not she has a free Saturday. If you do all the caring she doesn’t have to.
7.     See it all as perfect. If she does her work at school, it is perfect. She is learning to budget her time and take care of her own responsibilities. If she doesn’t do it at school, it is still perfect. It is the perfect time to help her appreciate the cause and effect relationship that exists in your home. Allow her to be the cause of how she spends her Saturday.
8.     Let the consequence do the teaching.  If you son forgets to pack his tooth guard in his equipment bag and doesn’t have it for Karate, allow him to experience the consequences of his actions. Do not buy a new one. Do not drive him home to get it. Do not rescue him. Allow him, without lecture or reprimand, to feel the results of his actions.   him to make the connection himself.
9.     Speak softly. When you volume is turned up, yelling or shouting, your child focuses on your anger rather than on your words. They look at your behavior rather than at their own. Allow them to look within by taking the focus away from yourself by speaking softly.
10.  Allow your child to learn her own lesson. If the lesson does not involve a health or safety issue assume that she is the best judge of what she needs to learn. You may want her to do her chores in a timely fashion. She may decide she needs to learn what happens when she ignores her chores. You may think she needs to learn how to create a report on Switzerland. She may know she’ll benefit more from learning what happens when she turns her report in late. Trust you child to attract the appropriate lesson and allow her to experience it.
Any force or control produces a counter force. Reduce power struggles, lessen resistance, and build mutual respect by stepping out of the need to control. Use the ideas above to allow yourself to allow your children to take greater control of their lives. It will help them grow toward becoming responsible, empowered, and self-reliant young adults.
10 Commitments: Parenting with PurposeAbout the Author:
Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman are the authors of The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose. They are two of the world’s foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. They publish a free monthly e-zine for parents. To sign up for it or obtain more information about how they can help you or your group meet your parenting needs, visit their websites today: or They publish a free Uncommon Parenting blog at