How often do we refer to the parent-child relationship as a power struggle? Who has the power? The bigger, louder, sometimes out-of-control grown-up, or the smaller weaker, sometimes out-of-control kid? When a toddler throws a tantrum, who has the power? The screaming parent or the shrieking child who’s pulling the posters off his wall?
When a parent is angry and yelling, and the child is quiet and intimidated, who holds it then? There seems to be little doubt who holds more power. But is this so? Superficially, yes. But it is pretty evident that this is not only misused power, but it is also at the very least ineffective and at the worst destructive in the long term.
What about when a child is angry and screaming and the parent is evasive, unavailable, and non-responsive? Who holds the power then? Now the child is in charge, as it were. But this can be destructive too, can’t it? A cowering parent and an aggressive child is also a destructive dynamic in which neither party feels heard and seen and understood. This doesn’t lead to evolution either.
So what of these power struggles? Power itself is not inherently bad. It is how we interpret and use power that matter most. In other words, power over another always leads to the devaluing of the other, as well as the toxic inflation of the one in control.
Empowerment of self, however, well that’s another thing altogether. To be self-empowered, to be fully present to one’s own voice and truth, is to align with nothing less than one’s highest truth. And this truth, in its essence, is love. It is eternal. It is the continuous infilling and outpouring of itself.
In every relationship, then, even in the dance that is the parent-child dynamic, if one uses power to exert her will on another, this is not love. If one tries to control or manipulate the other, this power is not love. It is only through empowerment, indeed fulfillment, of self that we can be in the presence of our parent or child (the “other”) and find alignment, regardless of the conditions the other presents.
Love can only exist when the scorching destructive flames of power give way to the cooling life-giving waters of freedom and evolution.