My parents are controlling. What should I do?
Sometimes parents seem so overbearing that you feel you hardly have room to breath with them in the room, much less have a decent relationship. The intentional practice of honor can actually help in these situations!
My Friend Debbie
Although my friend Debbie grew up pretty privileged, her transition into young adulthood was not easy. Her mother was plagued with an unrealistic fear that Debbie would never find a spouse. This fear drove Debbie’s mom to control every decision Debbie made from 18-years-old on from a warped point of view. Her mother used emotional pressure to press Debbie about her choice in college, what kind of car she drove, how she did her hair, her weight, her clothing, her friends, even her spiritual beliefs. When Debbie resisted her, her mother began to put pressure on her to come back home where it would be easier to make sure she was positioned to marry well.
Perhaps you can relate to Debbie’s experience! How do you turn a situation like this around? Here’s how Debbie handled it:
Debbie decided not to move back home, despite her mother’s wishes. She recognized that she could not allow her mother’s fear to control her decision and that she had to take responsibility for her choice about where to live. She took the time, though, to travel home and discuss the choice with her parents. In fact, she dedicated a summer to travel with her parents, making sure they were a part of the decision and carefully listening to their input. The decision was hard on her mom, but the relationship is intact and her mother knows that Debbie cherishes and appreciates her perspective.
Honor doesn’t always mean obedience
Honor doesn’t always result in obedience. In cases like this, I try to lean heavily on the Biblical meaning of honor: “to put value on” or “to make weighty”. The input of someone I desire to honor, if I do it right, is weighed heavily in decision-making. I seek it out; and take effort to really understand it; it’s respectfully considered, dialogued about and gratefully accepted or gracefully set aside. Just like for Debbie, this process takes time and commitment to the relationship, but will usually result in parents being honored and feeling respected, even if their suggestion is not implemented.
And here’s another benefit. When parents feel like they are being honored, they are likely to become less controlling. If you will take the time to work through the decisions you’re making patiently with them, seeking and considering their point of view, they will begin to trust you more and start affirming the path that you decide to take.
What about you? How do you handle making decisions that your parents don’t agree with?