I ran into a situation with one of my coaching clients, and I’ve seen this now a few times, where you’ve realized that you’re late to the party with the family structure and organization being chaotic. You do that thing where you go to work and you come home and the kids are basically running crazy, the house is a mess, there’s complete disorder, and the kids are rude and disrespectful. You realize, “Oh my god, I’ve let his all slip. I’ve given away any sense of power and control in this house. Nobody respects me. I’m being a complete chump. This is why my wife has no interest in me and doesn’t respect me either.”
You’re at that place where you realize you have to get that family structure back under control as part of the solution in fixing your marriage. The temptation is to go in like Dad the New Ogre and do a Shrek approach where you explode in a rage and suddenly everyone is well behaved, cleaning their rooms, talking to each other nicely and there is casual, polite, fun dinner conversation.
Unfortunately, what tends to happen when the situation is that far gone, you suddenly turning into the loud ogre type, leads to you just getting disrespected more, and everyone pushing back even harder on you when you try to create and enforce rules. Now you’re in a situation where you’re worse off because you’ve proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they don’t do what you say.
You really can’t force them to do what you want. You can’t force them to follow the rules if they simply don’t see you have having any real ability to enforce the rules. You have to turn this into a situation where people decide to follow the rules and realize the rules are in their best interest, and there’s some sort of benefit or payoff to following the rules.
What you can do though, if you can’t just enforce the rules straight off the bat, is control yourself and start saying “no” to the ridiculous demands on your time, energy, money and effort. They are all running crazy, but they are likely coming to you to try and get you doing stupid things that are a waste of time, money, or effort. Or just simply they’re trying to get you to do their stuff for them. So while you can’t make them behave, and you can’t hold a gun to their head and have them clean their room, what you can do is say “no” to them trying to get you to do their stuff for them.
They want you to give them extra money for the movies? “No.” They want you to drive them all over town when they’re being complete brats? “No.” They want you to basically do all the dishes, cooking and cleaning and wait on them like you’re the butler? “No.” You don’t have to do all of this stuff. It is much easier to learn to say “no” than to try to get someone else to say “yes” to what you want.
Start at that point. Don’t start out with this giant ogre thing with a bunch of rules and “Smackdown Daddy is here!” That method is just going to explode in your face. You can say “no” to being the Amazing Butler Chumpdaddy though.
The other thing you can do is start creating opportunities, things to do, places to go, fun to have…that is basically your “yes”, but it is “yes” on your terms. “Yes, we’re going to the movies, but these are the terms that have to be met before I drive you there and pull $10 per ticket out of my pocket. Yes we can go, but I’m not taking you unless your room is clean.” You see how that is different than “You must clean your room”? This is “We’re going to the movies when your room is clean.”
And of course if the rooms aren’t clean, you don’t go to the movies after you said you wouldn’t take them. Don’t keep training them to ignore you.
You can’t force the kids when they have no sense of respect, but you can say “no” to all the dumb stuff they’re trying to get you to do. You can create opportunities where you’ve said “yes” but you define the terms of what the “yes” is. So if it’s something like, “Clean your rooms and then we can go to the movies”, if the rooms aren’t clean, oh well no movie.
They will test you at first to see if you’re going to stick with this, and you’re going to have to weather the storm, but over the long run it does work. It starts generating that sense of respect without you having to turn into some over the top ogre. It’s “yes” on my terms and “no” on my terms. I can control me, and I’m not trying to directly control you.
If everything is mad chaos, doing this may take you three or four weeks to start getting true progress, but it will start working out over the long run.
(Post is an edited version of the video transcript)