This week, we dig into the first of our parenting styles, the Power Patrol. If you missed taking the quiz, click here. Once you score it for yourself or your character, sit back and wait until I hit on your parenting style. It's amazing what you can learn about where your character comes from and how that background still affects them (or you) today.
The most extreme form of an Over-Controlling Parent is the Power Patrol. In a worst case scenario, these parents are the ones who end up as a Child Welfare case because they have somehow physically or emotionally abused their children. But not every Power Patrol takes it this far.
In general, Power Patrols want to be in control of every situation. These are usually Lion-type personalities (if you haven't taken the Animal Personality Test I based an earlier series on, click here to access it). Everything that applies to the Lion type (click here), both positive and negative mostly applies to the Power Patrol.
How does this relate to parenting? There are some inherent challenges with all the types, but Power Patrols can have difficulty establishing warmth and connection with their children. They are bossy, argumentative and don't allow for different viewpoints other than their own.
are more concerned with the love of power than the power of love.
What does a Power Patrol believe? Deep down, the internal mantra of a Power Patrol is that children should follow the rules, plain and simple. If a child breaks the rules, then it's the parent's job to punish them. These individuals don't have the nebulous "gray area" that many parents struggle with. To them, everything falls into either black or white. Right or wrong. Usually, their way or the wrong way.
Children who have differing opinions from them are not encouraged to voice these opinions at all. They are seen as wrong, and the child's trying to speak his or her mind is seen as disrespectful or defiant. Besides, if a child exercises their right to speak up, the Power Patrol fears not being able to control the situation.
How does a Power Patrol discipline? By issuing orders, threatening the child with possible consequences of not following through, and shaming them if they don't do it quite right. If these don’t work, they often resort to physical punishment to motivate a child.
If your hero or heroine had this type of parent growing up, how might she or he end up as an adult? Here's some likely possibilities:
1) Inability to trust.
These children grow up with barricade over their heart. All they've basically known is harshness and criticism. Their parents might love them, but their actions hardly say the same thing. In fact, their words and even their body language indicates rejection. It's hard to put yourself out there for anyone for fear of additional rejection.
2) Tendency toward lording over others.
These children might be fearful of their parents, but they are also in awe of them. The amount of power that their parents wield impress them, and since they have no control at home, these children will often seek ways to have power over others anyway they can. They become the playground bullies or the boardroom debater who won't let up on a verbal match.
3) Little self-motivation.
Having grown up waiting for the next demand to come, children of this type parenting style aren't self-disciplined. They are other-disciplined. They go through childhood simply wanting to avoid punishment, and that's why they obey rules, not because they see the value of the rule or respect the parent's judgment. This can translate into low ambition in adulthood. At work, they will appear productive only when the boss's eye is on them.
4) May lean toward abusive relationships.
Since their parent was so controlling (or even worse, physically abusive), and this might have even been done in the name of love, these children come to associate pain (physical, mental, or emotional) with love.
5) Uncomfortable around physical affection.
Wouldn't you be a tad out of your element with a "touchy-feely" if you grew up with a man like the one in the cartoon pictured above? It's not like Power Patrols are completely unaffectionate, but they aren't known for their warm, cushy huge and pecks on the cheek.
If any of these fit the bill, then you'd have a nice internal character arc already plotted out for your protagonist.
Q4U: Any of your characters (or YOU) out there have this type of parent? Did you plan any of these types of conflicts for them to overcome?
* A lot of the information in this series will be derived from Jody Johnston Powel's book, The Parent's Toolshop. Quite a bit is also from my own clinical experiences and opinions.*