Control vs. Influence

Monday, October 13, 2008


Thank you so much for all of the input and suggestions regarding the poster situation. I really enjoyed reading the varying perspectives. I was writing that post somewhat tongue in cheek but you all came up with the perfect solution.  I know that I need to let Will express his creativity and that he needs to feel like his room is his own. I gave him the option of posters in frames or the wire cable systems suggested by Preppy Pink Crocodile.

Will chose the cable wire system that they sell at PB teen and Ikea. So, that is what we are going to get.  You can clip art, posters or other various items to them. I look forward to seeing what he chooses to display.

This whole situation (and others) has really shifted my thinking about parenting lately.  The other night in our book club we had a great discussion (the book was The rest of her Life by Laura Moriarity). Our discussion revolved around parenting and how it changes as children get older.  One of the Moms shared the words to express how I was thinking.  She said that as kids get older our parenting shifts from control to influence.  I really identified with that.  Now, I am desperately trying to control my 2 year olds behavior (more on that in my next post). But I realize that with my 11 year old, I need to alter my style.  If I try to control too much, there will be rebellion and resistance. Communication will break down and I think our relationship will suffer.  I think we need to solve things together.

I have never believed that parents should be friends with their kids (until they are completely grown). But I do believe that I need to let Will make some of his own mistakes now and let him spread his wings a little bit.  I also know that "little bit" will increase every year until he goes to college.  It is hard though to move from being "in control" of your child to trying to influence them.  I am not sure I will be good at it. After all, I am a recovering "control freak."


Yesterday, we met up with old friends at a Fall festival. The festival was at the church where Dave and I were married and where Will was baptized. It was so nostalgic to be there again.We had not been there in several years. We spent the day with friends that I knew before I even met Dave (back when I was a professor at the University of Houston). It was a great day.  Oh and Will and Harry rode mechanical bulls!  They are such Texans now!


  1. What great insight on parenting. You expressed the crux of the situation so well. I think that you have such love and respect for your son Will that the transition from control to influence will not be as difficult as you envision.

    I'm so glad you reached a compromise on the posters that is acceptable to both of you!

  2. Sounds like you had a fabulous weekend!!! I completely understand the "control vs. influence" issue. AS we are there too, being that Chelsi is 12.
    It is a sensitive time to move into and through. I pray each day for the wisdom to handle issues at hand.
    Thanks for expressing this "season" in our lives so beautifully!!!
    *(I love your cute little "Texans"!)
    Ride 'em cowboys!!!

    Sweet Blessings!
    Denise C

  3. Kim,

    thank you for this insight.


  4. I am with you on controlling.
    I had to really learn how to influence my kids.. when they got in their teen years.. it is hard.. I have one that is leaving into the Marines in 8 months and he will graduate high-school in 7 months and i have learned to let him do things on his own.. or he will never be able to make it successfully out in the real world..
    It is hard but once you get it down .. it becomes a habit..
    Thanks for sharing and you are a GREAT mom..
    Hugs girly.
    Have a Great Week..

  5. Kim, this is a great post. We, too, feel the need to let Paige learn from her own mistakes (it is hard as we are utter CONTROL FREAKS...but that is a whole other story) : )

    I am glad that you have come up with a solution for Will. It will be great to involve him in the decorating and it can be y'alls little project.

    Glad things are going better and it I love seeing the newest Texans ride the bulls with such gusto : )

  6. As a mom to 3 teenagers and one 3 year, parenting styles are very different for the two. With my 3 older girls, it is a matter of influence and leading by example- that is the key for me. I try to live a life in front of my girls that will make them want to live their life the same way. We talk a lot and I let them make as many decisions on their own as I can. A lot of prayer goes into parenting too! Mistakes happen as well. I have always reminded them that the sister under them is always watching and the younger behavior will often tell us about the older's behavior- not always but usually. So far so good!!! Now with EllaKate- a different ballgame all together. She is learning but it is modeling, rewards and consequences, and consistency- Consistency has always been the big word in our house. Be consistent and they learn the rules... It is a daily challenge and for which I am truly thankful for each day!!!

  7. Such sage wisdom on parenting & so true!!

  8. Great post! My husband is a youth pastor and we are currently doing a 12 week series on culture with our studnents and parents. It seems like so many parents out there are afraid to parent anymore! Seems they trade their role for that of a friend and then they are the first ones to knock on my husband's door needing advice/counseling about how to deal with their teenager who is rebelling. So, I commend you! Keep parenting! Our kids are worth it!

  9. I love the title, and I love the content here!!! When does influence over control start? 7? Today I feel like Ainsley is trying to control me...

    More on that later!!!

    Great news on the house!!!! I will keep praying for that to go through. Perfect timing before you beautiful items leave to drive south!

    Can't wait for tomorrow's post. I know you will be preaching to this choir!!!


  10. I love hearing about your parenting changes. I know that just with one child now, I feel like I have changed things from just meeting his needs, to setting rules and consequences. It is so hard, I can't imagine having a toddler and an 11 year old, you are amazing!!!

  11. That's a great way to put it. I heard Dr. Tim Kellem speak at the MOPS conference and was so inspired. He speaks on "grace-based parenting" and I felt it was such a balanced approach to raising children. I bought all 3 of his books and am very much enjoying this perspective -- planning to post on it later. He says rules without a relationship = rebellion. And a relationship without rules = resentment. I'm just starting out in this whole parenting adventure, but I found his insight to be very worth the read!

  12. You had to know you'd get an I LOVE TEXAS from us! I'm so jealous! Sounds like a great time at the fall festival. Great insite on parenting. I'm so greatful we're not anywhere near that yet, but I know it'll be here in no time!

  13. I couldn't agree more. My parenting with my 12 year old is completely different than with my 4year old. The expectations are the same, but the lessons are different. I've really enjoyed letting go of the 'control' part of raising a 12 year old, it's been fun and it's made me fall in complete love all over again with the young man that G is becoming. I've learned so much from him and I couldn't be more proud of who he chooses to be.

  14. So true, and it's SO hard!! I don't think I'm very good at it either. Surprisingly, it's my youngest who forces me to give up that control. He has always fought the control factor!! I think I'm in for big trouble when he gets to be a teenager!!

  15. Well, as a recovering control freak myself...I think you are right on target.

    Children need to make mistakes and pay the prices for them because that is what happens in the real world. Hopefully if we can teach them how to avoid BIG mistakes when they are young, they will make wiser choices when the prices are really high in the adult world.

    You are a great Mom.

  16. I totally agree. I always have said parenting toddlers is physically exhausting, but parenting pre-teens and teenagers is emotionally exhausting. I agree with you too about not wanting to be my childrens "friend", they have plenty of those :)

    Thanks for sharing your insight...loved it!

  17. Kim~
    You are such an inspiration to me! I appreciate you sharing so much of your life with all of us!

  18. With the boys riding bulls and zip lines, it looks like you're moving right along and 'letting' them fly ;)
    Congrats on both houses!

  19. Your post is so timely. I am struggling with the "control vs influence" issue with my 10 year old who is new to Middle School. It has been a whole new experience for both of us. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your book club experience.

  20. I love the idea for the posters...I said frames, but I like this idea much better.

    I can totally relate with the control vs influence...I fight the "control" factor everyday!

    So glad you got to meet up with some old friends....sounds like you all had a fantastic day!


  21. Thanks for this post. We have a 13 year old son and just the other night I broke down crying to my husband that I am not sure how to be a good parent to a teen. I feel our son is pulling away and doesn't like us very much these days. Sometimes it's hard for him to even talk to us (or so it seems) and he has always been such a kind, caring sweet boy who recently has turned into an Alien from Outer Space....I just want my boy back but I know we will go through some tough times it's just hard. I don't believe in being friends with our kids either and so many parents today are..we just need to find a good balance I think. Oh boy I am writing a book. So sorry!


  22. Kim, I really want to thank you for writing this. My kids are still little but I know it won't be long before the time comes and the issue of control vs. influence needs to be addressed. You and your husband are such great parents. I have no doubt Will, Harry and Kate will grow up to be wonderful people!

    Glad the kids are enjoying Texas!

  23. I completely agree with your parenting strategy! I, too, am a control freak so I feel your pain!

    I think the wire cable system will be perfect for Will's room!

    Love the pictures of the boys!

  24. Sounds like you had a wonderful weekend. I love how you are already thinking out loud about parenting a pre-teen. I have watched many of my son's friends rebel because their parents were so much in to controlling them rather then influencing them. We influence our children in this house as best we can. They have fallen down and have gotten back up. My boys have made mistakes a long the way and my only hope has always been as long as they learn from their mistakes then it was worth making. I am not my boys friend but we have very open communication and we truly enjoy each other. They often ask me to come a long with them when they go to a movie or concert. I like the men they have become. My only advice to you is to keep that line of communication flowing. I can't tell you that I love everything my boys have told me but I do respect the honesty that they have given me.
    I can't wait to see the new room...I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to the house..but I do let them pick the colors of their room (as long as I approve) : ) I am not one that can close the door...I do demand a clean room and beds are always made (by me of course LOL). Ok, I know you think I have issues..

  25. Please tell me where to order the art cable system from!! I bought one from PB a few years ago but can't find it any more and my daughter really could use one in her room!

  26. Loved this post...I hope I can be this good a parent when my kids are in their teens :)


  27. You are such a wonderful mom ... you continue to inspire me my friend.

  28. When Matthew decided he wanted his walls covered with posters, I had the same reaction, but we compromised and did the framed poster route. I was concerned about the wire system. I was afraid that they could get hung on them.

    Parenting is complicated but I do feel that I am good friends with my kids and I hope they think so. They are my favorite people on the planet and I really enjoy my relationship with each of them. We might not be here by the time they grow up, so I don't want to wait. Plus, I think that they need to exercise their decision making muscles and judgement while they still have a safety net. I give them choices and they know I respect their opinions, input and ideas. But, they also know that I'm the MOM and that I have pretty clear (high) expectations, am respectful but not permissive (I choose my battles) and that I can be pretty demanding. (Oh and I remember some kids in school who were "friends" with their parents and they drank and smoked pot together, etc....that is NOT at all what I'm talking about). Some definitely need more guidance than others, and after having one EXTREMELY challenging child (from the start), it was clear that the idea of "controlling" was pretty futile. It's more like a dance...sometimes I lead and they follow and other times I just have to trust them to be responsible and make the right choices. Parenting is a lot harder than I thought, but my goal is to give the kids enough room to figure out who they are and trust that they know (at least some of) what's right for them.


Thank you for your kindness.