Who controls your household? Although I bear the title head of the household, I’m not so sure that I control it!! In fact, I think it is Eileen who controls it. Though I am the primary decision maker, virtually all decisions are made in concert with Eileen. Even though Eileen most often gives me input and leaves the decisions to me, I can’t remember a time that Eileen wanted things her way that she didn’t get what she wanted. Why? It’s very simple. There’s one thing that I want more than to get my way. That’s for Eileen to get hers!! So, in a discussion that Eileen expresses a preference, she has two people on her side: Her and me!! Therefore, I’d have to say that Eileen runs the household. Basically anything that she wants, she gets. The little secret though is that Eileen is a person of simple wants and needs. She gives a lot and asks for soooooo very little. It’s an honor to agree with Eileen.
In a lot of families there are power struggles. Manipulation and deceit are the primary modes in operation. There is a constant tug of war to get one’s way or fulfill one’s agenda. It’s a two edged sword. On one edge is the constant threat of disagreements and arguments which erupt as one person actively pursues one’s own desires. On the other edge is the passive manipulations and deceit which is designed to stay under the radar but still accomplish one’s desires. The more destructive of the two is the manipulation and deceit. People will argue and still respect one another. However, deception of any kind cuts through the entire basic tenet of any relationship: Trust. Losing trust is much more substantial than losing an argument. Lose trust and you risk losing it all.
Children are sometimes especially good at manipulating parents. It can start at a very young age and really blossom in the teen years. Even if the parents realize that they are being manipulated, they lack the moral courage to stop it. In effect, their desire to have constant peace with their child outweighs their parental responsibility to stop the power struggle and raise their child right. So, the parents surrender to an untoward peace giving effective control of the household to the child.
We can also see the blossoming of children’s manipulative skills when parents get older, especially if there is a single parent. In these cases, we see an adult child who wants to control something in the parent’s household. Often times it’s for control of current or future assets, favoritism, or influence. So, the adult child uses good will, pressure, coercion against other siblings, and other forms of manipulation to gain a special foothold with the parent. The relentless adult child eventually affects most of the parent’s behaviors especially with the siblings, even to the point of the parent developing an emotional dependency with the adult child. In effect though, the adult child not only runs the parent’s household but runs the extended family structure. He/she who controls the parent controls the family. Once again, even if the parent sees what’s happening, the parent often doesn’t have the moral courage to retake the reins. The parent knows to oppose the child would cause grief with that child, a grief that the parent is unwilling to endure. Again, we see the surrendering to an untoward peace; the parent turns the household over to this child, even if it’s to the detriment of other children.
Control of a household is important. It sets the course for the day-to-day operations as well as for future endeavors. Even more important than who is in control is how control is attained. Blessed are those who lead by grace but accursed are those who manipulate and deceive the naïve and the "soft."
For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve. [Romans 16:18]