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A New World Family Order

Having tragically lost my mother to breast cancer last year, this Christmas and New Year just past was the first I have lived through without a father or mother.

Just like politics, when one leading player departs, others are left to jostle for new positions of responsibility, privilege and authority. Some find new strength while others are challenged or demoted.

My mother was loved dearly, but she was somewhat of a toothless matriarch. Dominating yet unprincipled, people’s reactions to her were always a matter of perspective… to some her deeds would be seen as benevolent, while to others just plain lax.

Like the times grandchildren in need of guidance or discipline would instead receive her audience and praise. Parent and grandchild’s feelings about this same situation would obviously differ.

Just like politics, when one leading player departs, others are left to jostle for new positions of responsibility, privilege and authority. Some find new strength while others are challenged or demoted.

No matter which side of this judgement you found yourself on, Mum always knew how to cook up an impressive spread. And once the meal was on the table, she would sit down and claim regal authority.

My children and Steve were her audience; my stepfather and myself royal attendants.

My efforts to claim any status or authority around Mum, even with regards to my own children, always provoked a backlash. The truth is Mum shared zero authority.

Like the night she was invited to our house and I had a two-course meal prepared in the kitchen and Mum brought in take-away food and served it to the family before I could stop her.

I dealt with this type of behaviour better at sometimes than at others. That night I ended up in the casualty ward at our local hospital with an anxiety attack. I never ended up seeing a doctor. The nurses on duty were so shocked and understanding, I felt able to return home within less than an hour.

Not as easy to deal with, Steve has not always supported my authority either, often challenging—in front of our children—my most simple requests and directives.

Eastern countries understand much better than the West the need for organisational structure and hierarchies that support authority in families. For this reason, I predict that the East will now take the lead in the political restructuring we are currently witnessing on the world stage.
More on that in a moment, but first a little more about our family…

My mother’s absence, and the tough job of transitioning our younger son into working life since finishing high school (school finishes in December in Australia), alongside Christmas and January being the busiest time at the motel and Steve being diagnosed with heart disease just recently, has together made this festive season extremely challenging for us.

Less obvious than a departing leading player is when a member loses status due to reasons such as age, ill health or diminished responsibilities (real or perceived), and again a new family order must be established to avoid conflict and chaos.

Our younger son has been toying with leaving home lately (much like a yo-yo), and with Steve being unwell for most of last year, there have been a number of additional shifts in the power balance that we have had to deal with.

Decreased perceived authority (as many women face when their children reach 18), combined with increased real responsibility, is not an easy combo to manage.

While our children see themselves as all grown up now, thinking they know better about most things than their parents (and especially their mother!), the truth is at the age they are now, parental responsibilities and challenges increase dramatically.

Less obvious than a departing leading player is when a member loses status due to reasons such as age, ill health or diminished responsibilities (real or perceived), and again a new family order must be established to avoid conflict and chaos.

Young adult children, despite their protests otherwise, need a whole new level of care and attention. They can get themselves into a lot more serious trouble than most school age children can, whether through drinking, driving, dating, using drugs irresponsibly… or simply feeling they can sleep all day and sponge off other people.

Mum departing at the same time our youngest child reached 18 created a power vacuum much larger than I could have anticipated.

Swearing, tantrums, and sometimes even violence would result over even the simplest requests made by Steve and myself.

 

 

The roles and expectations in the family I was born into were never well-defined. Many times, I was expected to play mother to my own mother and father, both of whom never resolved their power struggles with each other.

My mother’s and father’s world views were so totally different to each other’s that for me to please one, invariably meant displeasing the other.

Out of this chaos grew my thirst for order and understanding.

This is part of the reason that establishing a new and clear order in our family has become a very real and important challenge for me.

My mother is no longer at the head of the table.

Steve’s illness has required that in order for me to assist him, he must lend my position at home and at work (we work together) much more authority.

Rather than allowing myself to be pushed aside, as many women do at the stage when their children grow up and their parents pass on, I am stepping up and claiming my true role as co-regent of our family.

I am certainly more authoritative than Steve and my mother (who I would deem overly permissive), and not everyone in the family has welcomed this difference coming into starker contrast.

I have been told that at times it looks like I just want to ‘be the boss’. The truth is that we have had far too much of that attitude arising from the recent chaos in our home, and it is now time to establish a new family order. An order that is not about anyone being the boss but about it being easier for us to work and relax together.

Establishing this new structure with purpose and intention will hopefully avoid the displays of aggression and dominance that have resulted from our family’s recent lack of clear organisational structure.

Successful hierarchies (and yes, you certainly need hierarchies for success) have little to do with dominance.

Systems with roles that are defined by natural motivation and aptitude always work better than ones imposed by tradition or dogma (or dogmatic resistance towards either of these)… but that is a different story for another time.

Back to dominance…

From an early age we have been taught there is a good guy and a bad guy, and the good guy must win for peace to prevail. That is how the stories all end. We are the good guys who must destroy the bad guys.

The truth is peace only ever comes when there is a balance of power. Only then can everyone’s propensity for good be revealed.

We must stop playing good guys and bad guys in our families… if we want to end the conflict and destruction.

We will never find peace in our homes through tearing down and destroying each other.

While it may look like I just want to ‘be the boss’ (and some family members have painted me as the bad guy), the reality is with Steve sick and in need of assistance and care, and our children reaching an age where they need a different level of care, more and more roles are falling on my shoulders.

Rather than allowing myself to be pushed aside, as many women do at the stage when their children grow up and their parents pass on, I am stepping up and claiming my true role as co-regent of our family.

My older children are also more capable now and able to handle larger responsibilities being asked of them.

So, when Steve supports me in re-establishing that balance of power in our family by backing my taking a more authoritative role, the result is not for my own dominance but to provide a structure for equality and cooperation.

Because the truth is there are no good guys and bad guys, just good or bad systems and structures. Good structures encourage honesty and accountability, and bad structures encourage corruption and nepotism.

This leads us back to the world stage…

 

This restructuring has become all the more urgent in our homes and communities worldwide at a time when the most powerful government in the world is relinquishing its dominant role on the world stage.

It is now official the United States is no longer the strongest financial or military world power, having recently been relegated to position number 2 after China and Russia respectively.

US troops are coming home for the plain and simple reason of wanting to avoid having their long-grounded air force face a contest in Syria that it is by no means certain to win.

Many will be alarmed at me saying this, but it is clear that the new balance of power in our now post-unipolar world provides an opportunity for peace the world has not seen for a long time.

Are you old enough to remember the Cold War? How much more peaceful a time that was in the world than the ‘hot wars’ which have raged since the US and its allies became unchallengeable ‘top dogs’.

This chance for peace will only come if the chaos of the transition can be managed by putting in place new and more balanced systems and structures.

If we continue to bay for blood and insist on a ‘final victory’ against opponents now stronger than us, this opportunity for peace may be lost.

Because the fact of the matter is that we can never win the wars which the hawks are now rallying for.

If we cannot come to terms with this and accept and firmly establish a new balance of power, space will be left for a whole host of aggressive predators to take advantage of the chaos.

We must stop playing good guys and bad guys on the world stage if we want to end the conflict and destruction.

We will never find peace in the world from tearing down and destroying each other.

Of more concern should be the putting in place of new ideas on how to ‘balance power’ in our homes and communities…

 

 

One good result of the challenges we have faced in our family recently is that Steve is at last seeing the need for him to protect both his and my positions of authority in our family.

Together we have been working to put a new organisational structure in place in the past few months (playing The Good King and Queen). The groundwork that has been laid with this is really coming into play now.

The struggles we have faced this year have helped him begin to see just how much he depends on me.

Just like in chess, a player relies most on their queen when their own position is challenged.

 

 

Meanwhile, our work developing The Good King and Queen will continue here with the aid of the few generous souls who have supported us so far in helping this programme become a reality.

The truth is however, we are hopelessly under-staffed, and as our own family concerns must come first, progress may be slow as we continue developing this new programme in our own home.

Over the next few days I will be renovating the Members area to make all our resources easier to access. My time, however, is very limited at present with the many family concerns I am facing. So from now on I will be available in the Members area only once a month for a live group chat where members should feel free to ask questions. We will be scheduling the next chat shortly, so members please look out for an email.

As always, our group members are encouraged to support each other.

Steve will be available much more often at the new desk we have just set up for him. We have not left our post—we are still here fighting the good fight—but I cannot keep beating myself up for not being able to be in more places than is physically possible.

I hope you will join us in fighting the good fight!

If you would like to begin setting up an organisational structure to balance power in your own home, begin reading here for more details:

Men and Women Must Organise to Defend Their Families (Updated)

Kim Cooper

Author of seven books on the topic of relationships and positive mental health.

A prolific multi-media content innovator, Kim has created and shared a library of articles and multi-media educational tools including radio shows, movies and poetry on 'The NC Marriage', 'End The Blame Game' and 'The Love Safety Net'.

This Post Has 12 Comments
  1. Kim, you’re doing good just working through it the way you are. Similar situation here, my husband of 27 years died eight years ago, left me with nine children… Seven of whom were still at home. Working through it has been incredibly difficult. But by the grace of God, things are settling into place. Finally. After eight years, I am confident enough ( which I learned from you my dear) to firmly but gently take my place as the matriarch. I am however much more respectful of my adult children, and try to help them and let them know that I am here to support them… And that I am not so needy that I need them to support me completely. Something like that – healing and understanding takes
    time, and you have to go gently on yourself. Gently on yourself, and gently on others. We all struggle with something. Keep fighting the good fight, with grace and intelligence, and with the Holy Spirit always by your side ! You can do this!… You have to do this 🙂 keep loving your precious family and love your man!
    Reba

  2. Thank you for continuing this fight for family and peace and love for all of us and never giving up. I really admire you, Kim and am grateful for your work. For many years now I have taken advantage of all of your free resources. Your writings have helped me get through trying times while helping me grow. Thank you for giving so much of yourself. Theres so many amazing tools you have provided in your websites that people can read (or watch or listen to) and reread for a long time. And so much for free! You can reassure your guilty conscience of this when its trying to push you to do too much! Take care and so much love for you!

  3. Bravo, Kim!

    I love your transparency and excellent example of what we all need to be doing. Thank you for taking the time to explain the transitions your family is going through and for stopping to beat yourself up for your lack of omnipresence. 🙂 Please know how much you and your family have blessed so many, and how much we all appreciate everything you have done. Blessings!

  4. This was awesome!!! I have had the exact same struggles only with my dad and my kids and then my husband having no respect for my authority at all as our kids reached the magic age of 18. Suddenly they were adults and working (I was a stay-at-home mom) and they were given the authority to dispute house rules I established to the point I was cleaning the entire house and cooking all the meals with 3 adult children at home. Finally 2 1/2 years ago my husband filed for divorce after 36 years and I was “no longer needed.” What I discovered was the truth you have taught about people respecting you when you respect yourself was life changing. I went from no income at all (I cleaned one house for a friend every week) to starting my own business and making $48,000 a year!! I did not want the divorce but I know my marriage could not have kept going the way it was or I would have had an emotional breakdown. Thank you so much for being honest. Honesty is what is lacking in our society to bring people to a point of realizing something has to change. I do not hate my ex-husband. I pray for him daily. I want him to be happy but now realize that does not rest in my hands – it rests in his…

    1. HI Debbie,

      I am glad to hear that you have found a higher status for yourself. You have valued yourself and others take notice of that. Fantastic! Congratulations!
      You are also right on the money when you suggest that his happiness is in his hands. You have grasped Kim’s message beautifully.
      Steve

  5. I’ve been following you from day one, way before Steve jumped into the wagon, got some books etc, and appreciated your help, however, I am lost with this article. What was really your point? What do want to gain by bringing in politics to this? I am disappointed with your intelligence. I assume the stress is playing tricks over your emotions
    I am very sorry to see this new you

    1. World politics are changing fast. Much like with a patriarch getting old and ineffective, the world’s largest economy and military (the USA) is dying and withering.
      This leads to a power vacuum.
      Kim’s article was about the power vacuum that was left behind with the death of her mother, and how she wasn’t ready for the new world (family) order. Maintaining authority has been hard for Kim who was left with a new set of people wanting to take the matriarchs position in our family.
      I understand that it might have caused some confusion.
      Steve

  6. Another of life’s milstones.Firstly when we are born into this world as a child we continue as a child to a that parent until they pass.My condolences on the loss of your mother. We are born ,grow ,learn change to adolesencents and assume adult dimensions.Our child’s brain changes into adolescent brain and again develops our adultish brain..At about 22 yo to 25yo most adult development has occurred . This may take up to age 37.Our relationship with our parents does not change we will always be their child.
    Attaining 18 years should be celebrated and considered a gateway to adult hood not a automatic get out of jail free card.I am sure your parents tried to influence your decisions long after age 18 and probably did so with best intentions.
    As parents we direct our kids lives from the time they are born.and giving up this long standing habit at a specific time and date is extra hard.We need to practice giving back the decision making learnings to the teenager.
    Every person learns and generally gains experience from THEIR MISTAKES some learn quicker than others.Some need direction.

    Secondly. There are times when one partner needs to steer the ship.shared duties are ideal but not always practical. As parents we need to recognise each other’s strengths and how our kids respond to to each parent.
    Developing a flexible family structure that changes as the family changes is crucial. there is no set formula but I must agree Good King and Good Queen. concept is an excellent place to start
    Good luck every family deserves needs good leadership and direction and this message needs to be spread

    Wayne McCallum

    1. Thanks Wayne, it is certainly challenging knowing what to do with an 18yo who believes that he knows everything. Your support for the Good King and Queen concept is very welcome. Thank you!
      Steve

  7. a lot of food for thought!,… our awareness does seem to “go through changes” as time and events pass, many of which we didn’t/couldn’t foresee, until arriving at that point on the “life” road,… looking back on many situations that I felt I was muddling through, at the time, I do realize that I had somewhat of an “inner compass” that was helping to guide me,… giving everything “my best honest effort”, whether or not the results were looking that great to myself and/or to others, was certainly key to developing a cohesive sense of myself, and to pursuing the best purposes and focus that I could manage,… it is so important to honor ourselves, and our deepest insights and instincts, while working on our best applications to handle, manage and develop and transform the challenges and opportunities that life and our loved ones present to us,… it is always “a work in progress”, which you demonstrate to us so well,… (-:

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