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Am I “in control” or “being controlling"? How do I know the difference?

The difference depends on how your FEAR, ENERGY, and TRUST shape your parenting. Here’s how:

1. FEAR: When I’m in control of a situation, I might be afraid but I’m okay. I can handle it. I get controlling when I can’t handle my fear and I start forcing a certain outcome.

For example: If my kid isn’t grateful when he gets a gift, I might worry that he’s going to grow up spoiled. I’m in control when I remind myself that I’m catastrophizing and I have other loving ways to influence him to be a grateful kid. I would get controlling if I couldn’t get a handle on that fear.

2. ENERGY: When I’m in control, I feel energized by positive surges of empowerment and capability. On the other hand, being controlling drains my energy, leaving me depleted and disconnected from my true power.

For example: The days where I spend a lot of energy trying to get my kid to behave, I end up feeling exhausted. But if I spent that day prioritizing my relationship with him and accepting him, I end up feeling energized at the end of the day.


When I’m in control, I trust myself and I trust the process of my child’s growth. I trust that my child is doing the best he can under the circumstances. I become controlling when I assume he wants to act badly and he’s incompetent, so I start micromanaging him.

For example: If my kids are rough housing, I can trust that they are learning boundaries, communication, and the limits of their bodies. I can supervise, and step in to help if they need it, but otherwise, natural consequences are enough. I get controlling when I don’t trust that rough housing mistakes are learning opportunities, so I try to stop the play entirely.

Keeping in mind that you’re doing the best you can:

  • Do you lean toward feeling “in control” or “being controlling”?

  • Which of these areas do you struggle most?

  • Where can you try to make change?


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