I think that sometimes it comes down to what we mean when we say different words. I use the words of insistence and expectations but I do not engage in power struggles. The words aren’t *controlling* to me, they are more about setting a standard. The standard in our home does not change–it is the same for every member of the home. What DOES change is the amount of assistance someone needs from another in order to meet the standard.
My husband and I have prayerfully determined what kind of home we want to have–the things we want to teach our children, the character we want to help develop, the courtesies we want to see exhibited, the relationships we want to develop, etc. This is what we insist on. This is our expectation. This is our standard.
We’re all works in progress and help really does mean help. If you’re not able to meet the standard today, I will fill in the gap. That is grace.
If you’re not able to satisfy the standard because of your age, I will assist you as you grow. If you can’t do it because you’re not feeling well, I step up my share of the carrying the load until you feel better. If you are rude to someone I will remind you of the standard and help you reach it (offering wording suggestions, comforting you until you can go and make things right, removing you until you can be respectful, etc).
And the beautiful thing about parenting in relationship is that when *I* am struggling to meet the standard my children come alongside me and help. There are times when I grouse at the kids only to be met with, “Mommy. You are angry. Can I comfort you?” Because we are a team it doesn’t matter who has to help whom, we do it together. And we hope to come as close to the standard each day and each moment of each day that we can.