- Ada, Oklahoma


May 14, 2014

Surviving the Despot

Ada — This is the parent who uses power and fear to control our behavior, starting at a young age. Keep in mind, this parent can be a father or a mother. To avoid using up a lot of space with the redundant use of him/her, I will refer to this parent as “father.”

   Common themes in this parenting style are the despot’s belief that he owns you, that if you are his child, you are his possession. Halpern, in Cutting Loose says, “Belittle is the technique. Be little is the message.”

   Additional themes include:

• “I’m your father and no one comes before me.”

• “What I say goes.”

• “My needs and conveniences come first.”

• “I get respect and gratitude.”

• “Go along with these rules or else.”

There are three basic responses or patterns we develop to cope with this type of upbringing. Unless we recognize the pattern and change it, we are likely to let it affect all our subsequent relationships.

   An attitude of defiance and rebellion is one response. If the defiance was open, you probably had a series of fights or battles that may even have been physical. He “showed you,” or maybe you “showed him.” The defiance may have been more covert with low grades or acting out in school, or quitting a sport to embarass or humiliate him in a more public way. This attitude and behavior may have subsequently manifested itself in relationships with all authority figures, including bosses and spouses.

They may chose not to relate to you anymore. As Halpern says,

“It’s a risk. But consider the alternative.”

Or you have the option of surrender. You may surrender in the form of passive acceptance of his power and learn to not be strong and assertive in any of your relationships in the future.

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