Your Family – Democracy, Monarchy, or Dictatorship?
It’s interesting to compare families to various forms of government. Although my children would probably say that they are living under a dictatorship, it is actually more of a monarchy.
My husband and I make and enforce the rules, but we generally allow input from the rest of the family. We may not be able to accommodate everyone’s wishes but we do listen.
I have seen families that are run somewhat like a democracy. Everyone has a say in what happens, the decisions that are made, and what direction the family takes. I personally couldn’t do this because, with a large family, even deciding which restaurant to go to can be chaotic.
I want Whataburger.
I want to go to Chilis.
No! Let’s go to CiCis.
I want Chinese!
Those statements are made by everyone in the family – everyone wants to eat something different. The only thing to do is to make an executive decision and deal with any sulking that occurs afterwards.
I think a democracy can work more easily in one parent families because your relationship with your kids is different than in two parent families. I do think that everyone works together a little better, with a little more cooperation in one parent households. The dynamics are different and I think that the kids feel more responsibility for the health of the family than those who are in two parent households.
I keep thinking of the scene from the modern version of the movie, Yours, Mine, and Ours. The mother ran her home as a democracy where everyone got to give their thoughts on any decision as long as they had the talking stick. It worked for them until she married the dad who ran a tight dictatorship.
Then there are some families that are dictatorships. One person lays down the law, interprets the law, and enforces the law. There is no question where dinner will be, no question where the next vacation will take place, and no question about the decisions that are made. The dictator has spoken.
This is most likely, in my mind anyway, to be a family where communication is a problem. If kids learn early on that their opinions and preferences don’t count, they’ll just stop communicating those preferences – and anything else.
I have seen this devolve over time into a family that is controlled rather than lead. Too many times it ends up in anger, frustration, and broken relationships.
A monarchy works for us because it seems to be right in the middle. We listen to what the kids are saying, what they want, the decisions they feel should be made, but ultimately we have to do what we feel is the best choice for the entire family.
Sometimes that will be exactly what one of the kids has asked for and sometimes it will be something that everyone complains about. We are consistent in our rules and how they are implemented, so ultimately, everyone knows we will do what is best for the entire household.
I don’t think, “Because I said so…” is one of those statements that gets made here, unless it is as a joke.
I think that probably any one of those models can work as long as everything is consistent from family member to family member and day to day. I don’t think that the dictatorship would work here, though. Violence would erupt.
So, how would you categorize your family?