Family life: about control and happiness – part 1

It is my unsolicited opinion that there is a direct link between control and happiness.

But it’s more complicated than that. Because control is a loaded word that requires further analysis.

So does happiness.

I’m going to make this a 2-part series because otherwise, confusion will abound… πŸ˜‚

Let’s start with control.

What exactly is control, and who is in control of what?

You can be in control of yourself – your emotions, your physical well-being, your reaction to others. That sort of thing.

But you can also be the one who controls physical things: schedules, activities, family members (to a degree), household and maintenance, as well as a variety of work-related situations.

My biggest factors of control are related to family:Β  housework, kids, food, activities. If someone doesn’t design, communicate, and essentially control the backbone of this family’s commitments and obligations, things would perish.

Things perishing would probably affect me more adversely than it might the others. The difference is this:

They react to how it affects them individually.

I react to how it affects the family unit where I am only a small part of that unit. In other words, my individuality is not, or does not feel, separate from the family unit. Theirs does.

Does this make sense?

Example: although everyone has access to apps and schedules on walls, two out of four of us left the house without three crucial items today. Yes they left on time due to the schedules, but leaving stuff behind now plays into the whole respecting the schedule thing.

I prepared (for them) for the ‘what-ifs’ (she’s in playoffs: if they win they stay to play again and need a lunch). I left their stuff in their path on the way out the door.

It was me who noticed they forgot to bring it.

Although he came back to get it, the way the conversation went left me to interpret that the expectation was that I could have (should have?) driven it out to them.

The fact that I wasn’t dressed properly and in the middle of cooking soup (for lunch for the other kid who is double booked later) didn’t appear to enter their consciousness.

The remaining kid home with me was also not particularly helpful – instead of locating his sister’s puffer at his dad’s request (it’s her responsibility to pack it, but she’s 10), he asked me to find it. (He was watching fortnite, I was cooking soup, cleaning the kitchen, and was now expected to look for the puffer…) 😢

So now, the question of happiness comes into play. Who is, or isn’t happy?

It’s clear that the ones who left were not happy about their forgotten items. Him because he had to battle Saturday morning traffic twice when he had to return home to pick up the forgotten stuff.

Her because it’s stressful to be without the puffer in case she needs it.

I wasn’t happy either at this point: they asked me to make them a lunch. Given I’m the school lunch maker every day during the week, I wasn’t a particularly thrilled with that request. For them to then leave it behind just ignited me more: now my self-worth is affected. Would they have been so laissez-faire about the lunch if they had to make it themselves?

The boy was unhappy too because he was asked to look for something which interrupted his incorrectly assumed ‘free time’ to watch fortnite videos. Never mind that he should have helped me clean the kitchen, too…

(Some days I pick my battles…) πŸ™„

So my relatively happy morning with everything going as planned took a turn south when we ended up scrambling around over forgotten stuff.

When things fall apart like this, the family unit becomes discombobulated.

So with that preamble in mind, I draw the conclusion that if things work out due to my scheduling tactics, I should be a happy(er) person.

Or am I?

When things don’t go as planned, be it over controllable (scheduling and communicating correct times and locations) or uncontrollable (traffic, illness) circumstances, does this directly impact happiness?

There’s another angle in this scenario: has my controlling the minutiae of family life caused them to become more dependent and therefore less likely to be able to keep track of all of their stuff? Even though trying to teach them to respect schedules and lists was intended to do the opposite?

Say if things work out about 80% of the time, due to my, ahem, controlling nature, does this mean that I am happy 80% of the time? Or just happier?

Talk to me about control. How do you manage the intricacies of controlling multiple individuals while maintaining a sense of sanity?

I will address the happiness question in more detail in part 2.

18 thoughts on “Family life: about control and happiness – part 1

  1. There is certainly value in commanding control over some aspects of your family life including your own actions as well as concrete things like schedules and cleanliness. However, I think there is also value in understanding the limits of your own control and understanding that the members of your family are autonomous individuals who are also in control of some aspects of life. Learning to balance your lives and understanding one another is key.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I manage people professionally and probably enjoy it too much. 😏 When I read your post, I thought about routines and how people more or less function according to routines without thinking. This tends to work very well until something changes. From what I gathered, it was the weekend and there was a playoff game, neither of those things fall into the typical day-to-day routine your family has established. Moreover, the typical routine on the weekend is almost certainly not helpful for the situation you described. So, I think it is probable that most families would have run afoul in that situation., for what its worth.

    My fiancΓ© and I have the same problem whenever one of us has to travel for work – we always forget something! We don’t travel often enough to have a solid routine but we travel enough for it to be a steady annoyance when we forget things. What we found helps to eliminate/reduce the number of errors the day we walk out the door is preparing the night before and staging everything in one location. We now use the same location for staging every time too. Admittedly it is difficult to muster the energy but it pays off when either one of us is a thousand miles away and has everything we need.

    I hope it gets better! We are all more or less on auto-pilot πŸ˜‹

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Seriously, right? It’s amazing that both him (former airline pilot) and me (former flight attendant) manage to turn into such a mess now that teens and tweens are in the mix! Lol.

      Your words make sense to me. I appreciate the feedback. It really is true that people are creatures of habit…😊

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and welcome!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I had a boss once – a female – and people, men especially, would come to her in disgust or aggravation, wanting her to go out of her own way to help them with things or bend rules. Her answer when they would bitch about her NOT doing those things?
    “I hate it.”

    What she really meant was, “Sorry, not sorry. Deal with it.”

    I think you’re a wonderful mom, from what I read about you and learn about you every day. I love what the other commenter said about applying 12-step thinking here. And it’s true. You can control you, but not always what is around you, and DEFINITELY not other people.

    My child was the queen of forgetting things when she was younger. I’ve had to turn around or make special trips to get those items, and have had MAJOR control issues myself.

    Some ways I deal with it now have a lot to do with recognizing how little control I actually have, but the other side is just letting the consequences of everyone else’s actions affect them. And them only.

    You did your part. You scheduled. You cooked. You prepared.

    The rest is up to them. If they fail or forget, it’s on them. I would be hesitant to accommodate or rescue them EVERY time. Occasionally is fine, we all make mistakes, of course.

    I think we, as mothers, want so much for our children to be responsible and capable adults that it is incredibly difficult to let them start accepting responsibility because we know they are NOT adults yet. So we frustratingly excuse their forgetfulness because they are technically still kids.

    Ughhhhh parenting. It’s just….hard.


    1. It is hard and the frustrating thing is that occasionally it appears like maybe it’s sinking in. Until it doesn’t.

      It carried over to Sunday.

      I cried.

      It shook them. Mom doesn’t cry. But once I started they listened. And he had my back, especially when one of them started getting defensive.

      This was good on many levels because sometimes he doesn’t see either. But he did this time.

      So yes, I can, and do, control a lot and hope for the best outcome, but that outcome is not on me.

      The 12-step program is online…maybe I’ll print it off and post it on the wall. πŸ’Ÿ

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I wonder about the amount I control the kids too. When they were young and we were out as a family, we would always get compliments about how well behaved they were – but now they are older, they continually ask for help with things – and I wonder if that is the other side of the sword, if that makes sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m grateful that 12 step recovery has taught me that I have no control over anything (including myself most days). It means I can control my reaction to something if I’m living the principles. I can plan stuff but I can’t control the outcome. Makes life easier for me.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I can plan it with the intent of influencing it with x, y, z. I can hope for the outcome I desire. I cannot control the outcome, even though I try to influence it. Life is random, and the law of unintended consequences is a thing.

        But that’s just my perspective

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think I may start to follow the 12-step program…πŸ’Ÿ

        Do you watch Mom, the sitcom? I quite like it. Not sure how accurate it is, but I enjoy tuning in occasionally. πŸ™ƒ

        Liked by 1 person

      3. No, I haven’t heard of that one, but I’ll check it out.

        And the 12 steps have worked on everything I’ve applied them to: booze, dope, cookies, shoes, whatever changes the way I feel. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop “fixing”

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t. When I am in a class, there is certain to be one individual unhappy with a grade, ore the way a discussion is going and they are certain to try to push me off track. I expect that Monday I will have an outcry over my corrections of MLA format and style. At home: I try to let go of some control and smile. The other day, I went flying on the bathroom floor because my husband had sprayed something which left a residue on the ground. I could have been hurt badly but I wasn’t but it really hurt my knee and my ankle further signifying I need to lose a few more pounds! Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! I have become accustomed to it. The good thing is that it is a flex week and we are ahead of schedule. I will win a few allies because I will be reviewing the APA (not required but one class asked if I would), so it will work out. It promises to be an ok week.

        Liked by 1 person

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