The Problem With Using Power to Resolve Conflicts With Children



Using your parental power to change the outcome of a conflict you are having with your children can be at the very least, quite tempting. After all, who has the time and energy to sit down and problem solve every little struggle that arises? It’s second-nature for us as humans to often revert to using short cuts, or in this case, using power to get something resolved fast and easy.

You might force your son or daughter not to listen to certain music, but you can also be sure that you aren’t having an influence on their musical taste whatsoever. Using your psychological size as a threat can be quite effective, but as most of us know, comes with a high emotional cost. By making your child behave in ways that would reflect values that weren’t their own, you are also creating resentment, anger and ultimately, emotional distance in your relationship.

On the other hand, the power of influence has a much stronger and lasting effect. Modeling in particular is the strongest form of behavioral influence that parents can have with their children. When you are an exemplary model of your value system, you are providing your child with an option for how to live their own life, without giving the lecture. This leaves the option and trust in their hands to make their decisions the way they best see fit. And since people all grow and evolve in different paces, the process is a natural one. With this method, you won’t run into resistance as you will when trying to use force and you are much more likely to yield a real change.

When you use power methods, not only are you revoking your children of having a choice, but you aren’t allowing them the opportunity to practice critical thinking, problem solving and flexing their own judgement. Power methods say to your child that since they are not trustworthy or intelligent enough to make decisions on their own, you will be making decisions on their behalf. Additionally, without the real-life practice to solve problems on their own, you might consider how might this leave children to be prepared to deal with problems as adults?

Some might say: “But it’s for their own good and they don’t know any better.” I can’t help but point out the correlation here between how parents can relate to this in terms of boss versus employee, husband versus wife, or even society versus government . How many decisions have been made on our behalf because it is for our own good and what does that do to us internally? 

With this in mind, I hope parents will begin to reconsider their course of action the next time they feel the urge to force their child into something which they have not chosen themselves.

by: Selena C. George, P.E.T. Program Manager



Promote Healthy Co-Parenting after Divorce with Positive Child Custody Agreement Provisions

Parenting POV welcomes guest blogger, Christal Stephens, to share excellent advice for those that are coparenting. The Parenting Network offers “Cooperative Co-Parenting,” a three hour class that meets the requirement for divorcing couples with minor children in Milwaukee County. Learn more.

Divorce can be a stressful, emotional time for everyone involved. The adults need to make decisions regarding the division of property and assets, financial support, and most importantly, the custody and care of their children. 

Creating a child custody agreement is arguably the most significant aspect of the dissolution process. Unfortunately, parents may become so overwhelmed by their own feelings that they overlook the value of a good parenting plan. They may create subpar agreements or be unable to reach an agreement at all, thus the onset of a custody “battle.” Parents should put their personal feelings aside and work together to create a comprehensive and effective parenting plan for their children.

Children face emotional duress and are affected by the pressure of divorce. They may blame themselves for the breakup. They may feel as if they are losing a parent or as if they will have to choose between them. They may experience grief or depression. Some children act out in reaction to the divorce. Other children may not show any outward signs of distress. 

Regardless, divorcing parents should recognize that they are not the only ones being hurt by the divorce. They should consider what their children are going through and take extra measures to safeguard the mental and emotional well-being of their kids. Parents should keep in mind that their words and actions can have a tremendous impact on their children and work to prevent inadvertent mental and verbal abuse.

If you are going through a divorce or custody process, here are some things you can do to help your child during this transition:

  • Create a child visitation schedule that is in the child’s best interests. Your custody case doesn’t need to be a battle. Work with the other parent to create a schedule that gives your child plenty of time with each of you. If you try to keep you child away from the other parent in retaliation, your child is the one who suffers the most.
  • Allow open communication between the child and your ex. Your child should be permitted to contact the other parent in a reasonable manner.  You should never withhold methods of communication as a means to punish your child or the other parent. If you were still married, your child would be allowed to speak with the other parent whenever he wanted to.  Living apart should not make a difference on this aspect of their relationship.
  • Refrain from make any disparaging remarks about the other parent. You should never say anything negative about your ex to your child. Be mindful that your child will more than likely be able to hear your conversations with others. Be respectful of the fact that your ex is just as important to your child as you are.
  • Reassure your child with positive commentary. Make sure your child knows that the divorce is not her fault and that BOTH parents still love her and will always love her. Help your child understand that you and the other parent will continue to be her parents even though you don’t live together.
  • Do not complain to the child about financial matters or other adult topics. You child does not need to feel burdened with the fact that money may be tight or the other parent has missed a child support payment. You should never use your child as a means to communicate about money with the other parent.
  • Never compare your child to the other parent in a negative manner. “You’re just like your father!” should only be said in situations that reflect positive traits. Comparing your son’s amazing athletic ability to that of his father is fantastic. Negatively comparing him to his father, the man you no longer want to live with and no longer love, can be devastating to a child.

All of these points may be included as provisions in your parenting plan. Co-parenting requires patience and practice. You should make a conscious effort to nurture and protect your child and request the other parent to do the same.

Sandusky Trial Raises Questions for Adults and Children about Child Sexual Abuse

As the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse trial proceedings began this week, three national organizations, Darkness to Light, Prevent Child Abuse America, and Stop It Now, announced the creation of alliance to make child sexual abuse (CSA) prevention a national priority. The CSA Prevention Alliance seeks create a new national standard for CSA prevention and intervention. The Parenting Network applauds these efforts in bringing awareness to this important issue and implementing stronger prevention tactics.

The high profile Sandusky trial brings the issue of child sexual abuse into the spotlight, and parents and other adults may have questions that arise during the trial. Stop It Now has created a FAQ resource for such questions including “including why don’t adults do more to protect children, why don’t children tell if they’ve been abused, and where to go if you’re worried about someone’s behavior towards children.”

Likewise, this media coverage provides an opportunity for parents to speak to their children about protecting themselves against child sexual abuse. Younger children may not be aware of any news coverage about the trial, but school-aged children, tweens, and teens may encounter discussions or media stories on the topic. Parents should address their children’s concerns by first gently asking how much their children know about child sexual abuse. Darkness to Light offers a guide to talking to children about the Sandusky trial. The Parenting Network also has recommendations for talking to children about sexual development.

Parents and other adults who wish to learn more about protecting children from child sexual abuse can attend training through The Parenting Network. Since 2009, The Parenting Network has been the lead agency in the Milwaukee area to facilitate Stewards of Children, a program developed by Darkness to Light. Stewards of Children is a 2.5-hour training program for any adult interested in learning how to protect children from sexual abuse. Approximately 1,000 adults are trained annually. Key partners with The Parenting Network are Pathfinders and The Healing Center.

In addition to the training, The Parenting Network, in partnership with United Way of Greater Milwaukee and the Child Abuse Prevention Fund, will assist youth-serving organizations to develop policies and procedures to ensure the safety of children attending programs. For more information, contact Ruth Miller, 414/671-5575, x 30.  

The Parenting Network also provides a list of sexual abuse resources in Milwaukee. Additionally, the Parent Helpline is an excellent resource for parents, caregivers, or any adult who has a question about community resources or any form of child abuse. Call the Parent Helpline at 414/671-0566 or send an email.

Here’s Your Chance to Golf with TMJ4’s Lance Allan!

 Lance Allan, Sports Anchor at TMJ4, is serving as master of ceremonies at The Parenting Network’s 24th Annual Pro-Am Golf Classic on June 22, 2012 at Grand Gevena Resort & Spa.

 The Parenting Network is auctioning off a twosome to golf with Lance Allan and a Wisconsin PGA professional golfer at this event. The bidding will begin at the face value of $750 for a twosome. Each golfer receives player gifts (polo shirt, golf balls, and more!), a hot breakfast, picnic lunch, and a chance to play on The Brute, one of Wisconsin’s most beautiful golf courses with a Wisconsin PGA professional.

 Interested golfers should email their bids to The Parenting Network at We will respond individually to email messages and post updates on Facebook and Twitter daily. Bidding ends 12 noon on Friday, June 8.

 The Parenting Network’s 24th Annual Pro-Am Golf Classic will be held on Friday, June 22 at Grand Geneva Resort and Spa with a 9:00 a.m. shotgun start. The magnificent Brute, at over 7,000 yards, is one of the most challenging layouts in the Midwest and is considered one of Wisconsin’s best golf courses. Enhanced with 68 bunkers and huge rolling greens, averaging over 8,000 square feet, this par 72 course is perfectly manicured and immaculately maintained. Since 1988, this event has raised more than $680,000 for child abuse prevention programming.

Limited sponsorships available. There is still time to register individuals, twosomes, and foursomes. Register now.

 For more information about the event, visit our website. To learn about Lance, visit his blog.

Doctor Who? Choosing a Pediatrician

There are many decisions parents need to make when expecting their first child.  Among the most important is choosing a pediatrician. Your child’s doctor is someone with whom you may have a relationship that last years, even decades if you have more than one child. The Parenting Network talked to several parents and compiled their suggestions:

 1)      Start the search while you’re pregnant. “I interviewed two doctors within a few miles of my home. While they were both nice, I felt more of a connection with one because his wife was expecting a few weeks before me. That was over ten years ago and I appreciate that he is personally in touch with the exact developmental age of my son because he is experiencing the same thing with his own son.”

2)      Do your research. Ask other parents, ask your obstetrician or family practitioner, and make Google your best friend. “I accepted a new job in another state when our daughter was six months old. I made a habit of seeking out parents with young children in the grocery store and in the park to ask about their pediatricians. Within a few weeks, we found a doctor that we loved!”

3)      Make a list of questions beforehand. Don’t be afraid to ask about hot topics such as immunizations, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, antibiotics, circumcision, pacifiers, and anything else you feel is important. “I wanted to make sure that the doctor I choose shared my concerns about the overuse of antibiotics. That was important to me.”

4)      Start on the same page with your pediatrician’s suggestions for resources at home. “I asked my pediatrician for a recommendation for a health reference book to have on hand at home. He showed me one that he uses on a regular basis. When my daughter was an infant, I was checking that book several times a week.”

5)      Decide what’s important for your family in terms of logistics. Consider the location, office hours, staffing capacity, insurance coverage, and hospital rights before making a selection.

6)      Go with your gut. Your pediatrician is someone with whom you will discuss personal decisions, seek out in crisis situations, and most importantly, trust with the health matters related to your children. You want someone who is knowledgeable, patient, understanding, available, and responsive. “Sometimes I have to wait past our scheduled appointment time, but I don’t mind because I know that I will have our doctor’s full attention during our appointment. She calls me back in a prompt manner, and I really feel like a partner in my child’s heath care.”

7)      Your decision may not be final. Sometimes doctors retire, families move, or parents decide they want to switch pediatricians. “I liked our first pediatrician, but after a few visits in which I felt rushed and the clinic staff were less than friendly with my son, I decided to shop around. We have now been with our current pediatrician for four years (and two more children!) and couldn’t be happier. The decision to change doctors was the right one for our family.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers excellent insight into finding a pediatrician for your family. You may want to bookmark their website for any questions that may arise once you baby arrives.

Teen Pregnancy Prevention Efforts in Milwaukee

Image May often means prom time for many teens and perhaps it’s no coincidence that this month is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. In fact, last Wednesday, May 2 was the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. The United Way of Greater Milwaukee’s Healthy Girls Initiative  recently received national attention for its efforts to reduce teen pregnancy in our community.  While Milwaukee’s rate of teen pregnancies has been on the decline in recent years, the city still ranks above the national average in teen births.

 The Parenting Network approaches Milwaukee’s high rate of teen pregnancy from two directions: 1) supporting and empowering those who are already teen parents and 2) joining in community’s efforts to dramatically reduce teen pregnancy through prevention education for middle and high school students. In 2011, our prevention programs for youth, RELATE (Relationship Education Leading Adolescents Toward Empowerment) and Making Proud Choices, reached over 1,800 students throughout Milwaukee. The RELATE Project is funded through Milwaukee Brighter Futures and Making Proud Choices is funded through United Way’s Healthy Girls Initiative.

 The Parenting Network’s school-based prevention program teaches both comprehensive sex education as well as aspects of healthy relationship and communication. Our program manager has identified trends in attitudes and behavior from working with middle and high school students each year that underscore the need for teen pregnancy prevention education:

  • Many of the youth served have not had the opportunity to learn about healthy relationships or sexual development. They lack a forum in which to ask candid questions (particularly about sex), discuss fears, or practice communication skills. Classroom teachers often avoid this area of development because of discomfort with the topic or lack of time.
  • Young adolescent girls consistently accept that dating significantly older boys is appropriate, and they perceive themselves as being more mature than boys in their age group. These girls often believe they “can handle” dating someone older.
  • Many adolescents are surprised to learn that the age of consent for sexual contact in Wisconsin is 18.
  • A substantial number of youth have been exposed to inappropriate sexual behaviors in the home or community. It is common for students to disclose sexual abuse.
  • Adolescents believe a great deal of misinformation about birth control and pregnancy.

Both RELATE and Making Proud Choices challenge teen norms and educate youth about what is healthy, safe, and appropriate. Anecdotal data from participants indicates that knowledge of healthy vs. abusive relationships has been powerful in making changes to their own relationships or helping a friend who is in abusive relationship. Consider the words of one 7th grade girl in the RELATE project, “I really like this class because it taught me that sex can be dangerous in a lot of ways. I learned that a healthy relationship is always a good thing and that there are consequences for everything in a relationship.”  

 To learn more about teen pregnancy prevention, check out the efforts of the United Way of Greater Milwaukee. We also like the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy’s resource page for parents, especially “The Talk: It’s More than Just Sex” which gives parents tips for talking to their teens about healthy relationships and goal setting.  

Teen pregnancy rates will continue to decline through national and local efforts and through school-based prevention education at organizations like The Parenting Network.

No More Recess, No More Books: Surviving the Summer Vacation Blues

The weeks of summer vacation are approaching soon. Do you visualize a sea of possibilities? Or choppy waves of boredom and whining? The Parent Helpline staff put together some ideas to help parents survive summer in Milwaukee.


Finding full-time summer childcare for your school-aged children can be challenging. Hopefully, most parents have started the hunt weeks ago. Head Start programs end mid-May and most schools in Milwaukee finish in early June. Luckily, Milwaukee offers several resources to assist parents:

4C for Children now offers several database searches for free, and Youngstar offers the most information about available full-time childcare in the area.

Sometimes, parents may have to patch together several resources to cover all work hours. Check out the following for summer childcare programs:

Look around…what other community programs are in your neighborhood? Do you know of a neighbor, friend, relative who is available during the summer to watch your children? Someone home from college during the summer? A local high school or college student? College students post availability on campus usually on boards in the student union. Even though parents may be in a pinch, they should feel completely confident that the children are in a safe environment.

Can you trade childcare with another parent? Can you change your work hours to make your life a little easier? Can you bring your child to work some days or work from home once in awhile?

Keeping Children Busy

Summer activities can be found at:

Parents on a limited income should inquire about inquire about discount prices/sliding scale fees or scholarships for programs that charge fees.

Remember not to overschedule the family. Although structure is good, kids still need time to “kick the dirt.” That is, creativity and thoughtfulness can surface when we are relaxed and open to endless possibilities.

It’s Your Summer, Too!

Are you a parent dreading the summer months? Make sure you schedule some time for yourself to enjoy some down time. Make it a point to continue your book club, a walk with a friend, a date with your spouse. Finding time for yourself will make you a happier person and a better parent.

We suggest posting summer house rules depending on the age(s) of your child(ren):

  • The kitchen is closed between the hours of 1:30 pm and 4:00 pm.
  • Quiet time between 2pm- 3pm. Everyone is unplugged. Rest or read or write.
  • Designate Fresh Air Time, Chore Time, Game Time, Friend Time, Park/playground Time, or whatever works for your family!

Trade or barter with others to meet your needs either informally or through the Milwaukee Area Time Exchange 414/374-8181 English OR 414/305-9505 Spanish

And never forget that if parenting has you stressed out this summer, you can always call the Parent Helpline at 414/671-0566 for a listening ear, to sign up for a parenting program, or to learn about community resources.

Have a relaxing and fun summer! Do you have additional ideas or resources that we’ve overlooked? Please add them in the comments section.

Reality TV: Real Influences on Girls

The Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast recently presented research from their national organization on the influence of reality TV on girls. The findings from Real to Me: Girls and Reality TV offer both negative and positive impacts on girls’ lives.

Compared to their peers who do not watch reality TV, girls age 11 to 17 who watched reality TV regularly were:

  • More likely to agree that it is in girls’ nature to be catty and competitive with one another. (50% to 63%).
  • Nearly twice as likely to say that they spend a lot of time on their appearance (42% vs. 72%).
  • Likely to expect higher levels of conflict, bullying, and aggression within personal relationships.

But the news wasn’t all bad:

  • 75% of girls say that reality TV depicts people with different backgrounds and beliefs.
  • 75% say that reality TV shows have inspired conversations with their parents and/or friends.
  • 62% say the shows have raised their awareness of social issues and causes.

And there are concrete suggestions for parents:

  • TV watching is the #1 activity for girls, but they would rather spend face-to-face time with you. Use this opportunity to create alternatives for your entire family.
  • Recognize that not all reality shows are created equal. Competition-based shows like American Idol and Project Runway and makeover shows like The Biggest Loser and Extreme Home Makeover have the most potential for inspiring conversations with parents and friends.
  • Talk about the differences between reality TV and actual reality. Give girls and boys the opportunity to exercise critical thinking skills.
  • Encourage daughters to look beyond the mirror for their self worth and value.
  • Model healthy relationships with your partner, children, friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers.

This research will help inform The Parenting Network’s school-based programming for teen pregnancy and sexual violence prevention. The RELATE Project focuses its 7th grade curriculum on examining media images of sexuality and gender roles. The lessons for “Images with Attitude” have students analyzing print and TV advertisements, watching documentaries about media, and thinking critically about their own media habits.  

The Girl Scouts is taking the lead in creating awareness and advocacy for health media images for girls and youth. To learn more, visit

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

This infographic below, designed by the Pew Home Visiting Campaign, provides a snapshot of the reality of child abuse in the United States. In 2010, 4,839 children in Wisconsin were victims of maltreatment, representing 3.7 of every 1,000 children in the state. Children ages 4 and younger at the highest risk of abuse and neglect. Wisconsin’s data mirror the national statistics represented in the infographic. In 2010, 30% of child abuse victims in our state were age three or younger. Children age four and younger made up 95% (18 of the 19) of fatalities due to child maltreatment in Wisconsin.

These statistics are disheartening, but there is good news: child abuse IS preventable. Through best practices such as evidence-based parent education and voluntary home visiting programs, prevention programs are achieving success in helping parents to provide safe and nurturing homes for their families.

View sources for the infographic data here and Wisconsin data here.

The Pew Center on the States identifies and advances state policy solutions that serve the public interest. One of the Center’s initiatives, The Pew Home Visiting Campaign, partners with policy makers and advocates to promote smart state policies and investments in quality, home-based programs for new and expectant families.

We’re Blogging!

Welcome to Parenting POV, The Parenting Network’s point of view on families and prevention. Through this blog we wish to accomplish the following:

  • Support The Parenting Network’s mission to strengthen parenting and to prevent child abuse
  • Bring awareness to and provide insight into issues surrounding the families that we serve including child abuse, teen pregnancy, poverty, early literacy, and other topics
  • Offer best practices and helpful information regarding parenting

We welcome your feedback, especially suggestions for blog topics.


Director of Resource Development