A Deeper Look at Parenting.

Alice’s style is balanced in Control (Over her Environment). She wants Jimmy to: (1) listen to her, (2) do small tasks he’s capable of, and (3) generally cooperate. When he ignores her cries, screams and does his own thing, she gives him a consequence: (1) a time-out on one of the kitchen chairs, or (2) an extra chore, or (3) time in his room alone to calm down. She knows good parenting means teaching Jimmy responsible life skills, not only because they’re helpful at home, but because they’re also a must at school, and later, in his adult world

When Jimmy has a temper tantrum, Mark consoles him: “Hey buddy, it’s okay; I’ll help you.” Or, “Come on, after we clean this mess up, we’ll get ice cream.” Or, Mark says to Alice: “It’s only a few toys (when it’s really a living room full); I’ll pick it up later.” Or, “Jimmy’s really tired tonight; let’s give him a pass.” Mark’s parenting personality type is Pleasing. (Pleasing parents are always really worried about the relationship.)

What’s wrong with this situation? Actually, a few things.

  1. Alice and Mark aren’t united.
  2. Jimmy uses crying and yelling to manipulate his parents and “get between” them. Alice sees it. And, even though Mark understands that’s what’s going on, he doesn’t want to accept it. This is not the Jimmy he thinks he knows.
  3. Jimmy has too much power at home. As a result, he’s stuck emotionally and socially out in the world, including in his second-grade class, because he UNconsciously tries to manipulate other kids and his teachers as he does his parents.


  1. 1. Mark can increase his awareness. If he watches Jimmy and looks for manipulating behaviors, he’ll see them. Once he accepts that this is really happening, he’ll be able to drop his Pleasing responses.
    1. He’ll see that they aren’t helping Jimmy because they allow him to escape responsibility.
    2. Also, Mark’s Pleasing responses actually reinforce Jimmy’s manipulations. Mark pays off Jimmy’s tantrums without realizing it.
  2. Alice and Mark need to get together on how they will teach and discipline Jimmy. This means:
    1. no undercutting each other,
    2. no parenting discussions in front of Jimmy,
    3. private planning together, and then,
    4. supporting each other when conflicts arise.
  3. Alice’s goals for Jimmy are positive ones: cooperation and contribution. Like all parents, she wants him to be successful in life. So, like all who want a good life, he’ll have to accept instructions and limits. Think about all the future teachers, coaches and bosses he’ll meet.

So, Mark needs to “get onboard” with Alice’s goals. He’ll be able to give up his Pleasing approach when he becomes aware that he has intense anxious feelings when Jimmy “acts out.” When he accepts that Jimmy’s crying and yelling is a temper tantrum that he uses to get power over his parents, Mark can respond with sympathy but still reinforce the consequence. He can respond instead with friendly firmness.

Firmness is the key word here.

As we all know, Jimmy’s childhood is his practice time for learning the relationship skills and practical life skills he needs to be a successful, happy adult. If he gets to adulthood without them, he’ll be in trouble.

Good News.

Since Alice and Mark have been practicing their own changes together, the whole family’s in better shape now. And, that’s great!

Big Thoughts In This Article.

  1. Become aware of how your personality style affects your parenting.
  2. Become aware of what your child wants to accomplish with his behavior (his goal).
  3. Cooperate with each other to teach successful skills for your child’s present AND future life.

Warm regards until
next time,


Author's Bio: 

Joan Chamberlain is an author, therapist, and life coach with over 30 years of experience helping adults, couples, and teens. She has a Bachelor's degree in Business and Finance, a Bachelor's in education, and a Masters in individuals, couples, and family counseling. Her book, Smart Relationships, has helped many people achieve the self-awareness needed to see themselves honestly. Its wisdom has helped them work toward improving their relationships with themselves, their friends, and their families.

To learn more about the ideas and concepts presented in her articles, please peruse her website: