Raising children to disrupt male speech domination for the next generation

Continuing the discussion from How can women disrupt male speech domination?:

I wish I could take, “I don’t want to” but unfortunately that’s everything some days. She needs to learn the skill of tolerating not wanting to do something long enough to do it.

But I’m not going to teach her that skill by punishing her, rather I’m going to teach it by supporting her as she tries to struggle through, and by interpreting some of her resistance as her best attempt to get through it instead of getting mad at her. I’m trying to tell her over and over again that she has good reasons to behave the way she behaves so she can see her behaviour as complex and motivated by her needs rather than as being a “good girl” or a “bad girl”.

She has some very annoying daily routines she just needs to do for her health, and while some days she’s fine, other days she really hates it. She picks fights over things that she knows we have to force in order to provoke conflict, I think. I want to show her that she can get our attention without fighting, even though reality is always going to be that sometimes the best way to get attention is to be mean.

One thing I’m actually actively avoiding is reasoning with her. I don’t want her to get into a cycle of needing to come up with more and more dire problems in order to justify her feelings of unhappiness. I “have a friend” who grew up doing that.


I think you have to tailor whatever you do to your own child and their circumstances, so I won’t suggest that this will work for everyone. We were putting her in time out on occasion, but this wasn’t helping much. As I found growing up, confrontation often led to a more negative atmosphere that I reacted to - my parents found reasoning with me or giving me time to cool down much more effective (not that they used those methods much, unfortunately). Nowadays we try to focus on redirecting the energy or defusing the situation without punishing her (e.g. “would you like to choose a book?” works better than sending her to a time out chair by herself if she’s upset). Our 6 y.o. son has meltdowns and you just have to let him cool down by himself - touching him or talking at that point can only make things worse if it has any effect, but we talk about things afterwards.

As for actions related to the title, if we pick her up and try to take her to bed or somewhere she doesn’t want to go, she will physically and vocally resist. We don’t punish this - how would you feel if a s.o. or someone else picked you up and tried to take you somewhere you didn’t want to go? Usually we either talk with her or let her wait for a bit longer at that point. After a while, she learns that she’ll be tired in the morning if she doesn’t go to bed on time. If she interrupts us, we’ll act much as we would if an adult did - her input is important and we will get to her, but right now she has to wait her turn. She likes to be able to choose things like clothes, which we will allow as long as it’s reasonably appropriate to the situation - sometimes we have to limit the choice to two or three options.

My wife’s theory has always been that quite a lot of the terrible twos and threes are related to frustration at an inability to communicate effectively and have control over your life. If this is true, spending more time listening at the times when children act out could improve behaviour and teach negotiating skills as well as demonstrating a more egalitarian approach to parenting. It is a bit idealistic, but it seems to work pretty well. I guess part of this is our reaction against the James Dobson school of breaking the will of a child in order to teach obedience. What if unquestioning obedience is not the most important thing that children need to learn on their way to becoming independent adults - or even a particularly useful skill?


There is no such thing as parental advice that applies to all children, unless we want to go back to tautology club again.

That being said…

Never ask your children what they want for dinner. If they choose not to eat what is provided, do not allow them any more food before breakfast.

It’s a metaphor, not just literal advice.

If you teach your children to deal with what life gives them and make the world better by accepting and transforming and transcending, rather than teaching them that they have a right to “fairness” and “equality” and “explanations” that they can choose to reject based on whim or selfishness, you will do them no harm.

There are other threads where people will talk about “political correctness” and similar cultural schisms. The root of many, if not most of these, is the o’erweening arrogance that a spoiled child never loses; the unshakeable belief that one is right. We know, for a fact, that humans require socialization to become functional, healthy adults in our modern environment. That means the child must be shaped. When you use whatever persuasion, force or guile is necessary to make your child accept the necessity of maintaining her own health, you’re being a good parent; the challenge is doing so without damaging anyone’s sanity (such as yours!) and that’s unfortunately going to require a unique solution for every child, parent and situation.

Good luck! I am very happy with how #1 son has turned out, and have great hopes for the future. Still working on #1 daughter, but honestly she’s already a better person than I was at the same age, so I’m in the win zone.

Edit: I made the Sinner’s Bible mistake, but I fixed it.


This topic was automatically closed after 277 days. New replies are no longer allowed.