Think about your childhood experiences. Did your parents spend a lot of time teaching you the outward behavior that would make you a responsible adult? I don’t mean to imply that there’s anything wrong with this if it’s not carried too far, but did you ever have an opportunity to talk about the way you felt? Were you able to admit you angry or irritable or afraid? Did anyone take time to help you understand why you felt these kinds of emotions? Children who don’t have this kind of encouragement gradually learn to suppress their negative feelings. It is easier to pretend that you don’t have them than to be criticized for expressing them.
When you felt angry, perhaps bitter, you assumed that you’d better keep it to yourself because you might get in trouble if you exposed a feeling that didn’t match your reputation as a nice, well-behaved girl.
Individuals assume very early in life that they can conquer their feelings of inadequacy only if they perform well enough. So when a stain spoils their performance record, they feel they have no choice but to put a demerit mark on their value rating.
I’m not implying that a parent should never set firm boundaries for children. That might lead to chaos. But time can be spent discussing the why’s of behavior and listening to each others' opinions.
I recall one woman who protested the idea of discussing options with her children. My kids would run absolutely wild if I gave them choices,” she said. “If I don’t stay right on top of them, they’ll never learn to live correctly.”
Respecting her desire for orderliness, but questioning her dictatorial manner, I responded, “I’m thinking more of your children’s future when Mom won’t be around to tell them what to do. They’ll have so little practice in making healthy decision that chaos will almost be guaranteed.”
Maintain control is an ever-present goal of the imperative person. Conversely, relinquishing control and encouraging another person to think and reason are the goals of healthy interpersonal relations.
Les Carter, Imperative People: Those Who Must Be in Control