How power is shared—or is not shared—lies at the heart of every relationship.
“Sharing power” is not the same as “equal power.” It also doesn’t mean we let kids make all their own decisions. Adults should—and do— have more power than kids. Part of the role of an adult is to teach them, guide them, make demands on them, and set limits that help them grow.
Sharing power with young people helps prepare them to be responsible adults and shapes the quality of our relationship with them as they grow up. It makes a positive difference in many ways:
Sharing power in a developmental relationship involves these four key actions:
At its heart, “sharing power” highlights the ways we influence, learn from, and work with each other through our relationships.
But with power comes responsibility. Using power with care means treating young people with love, respect, and fairness without manipulating, coercing, or threatening them in ways that harm them or our relationship. This abuse of power can include physical or emotional violence or manipulation, including withholding affection or approval in order to get our way. When power is used in negative ways, it has serious and lasting effects on young people’s well being. Physical and emotional abuse is very destructive.
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