ALAS, THE TYRANT
Now, tyrant isn’t a word we use in our everyday communications, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t tyrants around. Yes, we can quote some world rulers, dictators and such that we recognize as tyrants. What about in the home? I was asked years ago to counsel a couple whose marriage was disintegrating. I knew them as members of our church, but not as personal friends. We had been to their amazing house for a Hawaiian Luau, but that’s about it. They presented really well on the outside and you wouldn’t know anything was amiss.
Here were two quite mismatched people. I found that he was a controlling tyrant and she a wife and mother of teenagers who either had always been indulgent with her children all along, or she had taken the other extreme to counter her husband’s uncompromising behavior. Smiles didn’t come readily to him at home, only in public. I could just imagine him saying to his family, “Whatever happens inside our home stays in our home. Right? So put on a smile and go face the world.” That marriage ended.
A friend, a female this time, is a tyrant to her children and picks at them even when they are not misbehaving. I think she must have got the message somewhere along life’s journey that to be a good mother you have to be continually harassing your children. I have been to her home many times and have experienced it first-hand. My input was sought on numerous occasions, but never heeded. She has alienated her children at a very vulnerable point in their lives and has lost her marriage.
What causes a person to be a tyrant? The need for power and control is probably the greatest reason. I have noticed through my many years of observation and counseling that so often controllers have experienced one of their parents using the same tactics and have imitated what they know. For others, everything was done for them by an indulgent parent and they never felt they had any control over anything in their lives. Suddenly they find that there is something where they can exercise power and control…their spouse and children!
Folks, it never works. Failure and misery is usually the outcome. Loss of spouse and children, or at least a very strained set of relationships ensues like a hungry wolf. It foments. It destroys. It’s pathetic and ignorant behavior. Too often I have been the one to soothe the children from these homes and give them skills for coping. I have counseled grown adults, even one in her 60s, victims of tyrannical parents. You know, the pathetic thing is that the tyrants don’t recognize or admit to being one!
We don’t own anyone. If you admit to being controlling, please seek help or just stop it. The best thing we can do is to love unconditionally and to seek the best for our spouse and children. It doesn’t mean being weak on discipline, but it does preclude ruling with an iron fist. Balance is always the best answer. It means, too, parents being on the same page with discipline. Endeavor to create a positive home environment where everybody is equally valued, one in which seeking to bring out the best in each other is your prime mission.
Written by Brian Burgess, School Counselor, Nashville TN. These are not necessarily the opinions of PPE.