Last week, you and your partner discussed the members of your respective families. Now it’s time to dig a little deeper.

Power in Your Family

After discussing the members of your nuclear family, it is important to think about how your family handled power. Every family will come up with some way of deciding who is in control of various aspects of family life. There is an inherent power differential between adults and children, but it can show up in a variety of ways from one family to the next. For example, some kids are “parentified” (given more power than they should have). In other households, adults abuse the power they have, and kids have little to no control. Power can be wielded more subtly, too, but even that would have shaped your development growing up. When talking about family power dynamics, you should also examine the power between the adults in your childhood (parents, grandparents, stepparents, aunts and uncles, godparents—anyone you might have witnessed in power struggles during your formative years). Spend some time with the following questions:

  • Who made decisions? Who got their way and how?
  • Did the people in the family acknowledge who really wielded the power? Or was there a way of pretending things were different than they were?
  • How was power handled among the adults in your family? Between adults and children?
  • Was power ever misused or abused? How? Did you push back?
  • How much power did you have growing up? How did you feel about it?
  • How did you know where you had power and where you didn’t?
  • What was your take away about power? How do you tend to handle power dynamics in your life now?

In my next post, I will ask you about the love and support you experienced growing up.