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Part 2 – The Exercise Manual

Pillar 2 – Balancing Power

Exercise 1 – Running a DMP (Decision Making Process)
Read through the Reaching Agreements page that is part of our Good Father’s and Mother’s program. This will give you instructions on how to run a DMP.

The family’s basic roles and responsibilities should be agreed on at the first few DMPs your family holds. Once this process is complete, make sure no one is reporting to more than one person for a chore or responsibility.

Family Operational Handbook  headings should then be decided on at further DMPs over the next few weeks or months.

Exercise 2 – The 3 R’s – Roles Responsibilities & Rewards

Children and adults of all ages need to be assigned roles and corresponding chores. Older children may have management roles of their own.

Please work through all the action points on the Assembling page of our Good Fathers and Mothers program:


The exercises that follow manage any potential abuse of power in your home. Please note that Back from the Looking Glass ( is our definitive work on limiting abuse. If you are in a violent or abusive relationship please work through it first before starting the exercises that follow. That said, if you often feel disrespected or have people in your life who habitually antagonize you when you try and balance power, the exercises here can go a long way to end abuses of power.

Exercise 3 – Building Your Response Repertoire (It’s All in Your Expression and Tone)
If you spend a few moments thinking about it, you may recall that the situations where your family or friends disrespect you happen regularly and in much the same ways. In the heat of the moment, however, you probably freeze up and don’t know what to say. Either this or you may become reactive and say things in haste that you may regret later. It is important that you know that this happens to everyone and do not take this too personally. People test each other like this for a variety of reasons ( Until you master the skills below it is best if you can call a time out on yourself early when this happens and close your mouth and go and self soothe.

This exercise is in two parts:
First, I want you to spend some time remembering the times you have felt disrespected or put down by people close to you on a regular basis. Next, I want you to brainstorm some ideas of how you will handle these situations better in the future. Think now about the situations where you regularly feel disrespected, intimidated or put down and write them down here. (Add as many pages as you need.)

Read the chapter on Limiting Abuse again for inspiration (you may also use the suggestions here: and if needed at the end of the article here once you have come up with some ideas, list your new repertoire of scripts below that you will use for each situation you described above, to show disapproval while keeping your cool. Take as much time as you need thinking of responses that feel comfortable and then practice saying these in the mirror, making sure you keep a low tone of voice. You can get advice on tonality here: (Add as many pages as you need.)

Exercise 4 – Your Personal Bill of Rights
This is an exercise for anyone experiencing power abuse issues around agreements, or whose partner may be showing little or no respect for their family. It is a very powerful exercise but needs to be done with careful attention to detail.

Here is an example list to give you some ideas . . .
1. My children have the right to be treated with respect and dignity.
2. I have a right to be the only romantic or sexual interest in my partner’s life.
3. I have a right to manage my own finances and to choose how I spend my money.
I have a right to have my friends and family treat me with courtesy and respect.
I have the right to have a say in decisions that affect my self and my family.
I have the right to live without guns or pornography in my home.
5. I have the right to be wrong and make mistakes without being punished or humiliated.
6. I have the right to change my mind.
7. I have the right to have my personal property treated with respect.
8. I have the right to talk to others about matters that affect me.
9. I have the right to choose my friends if they do not affect my family negatively.
10. I  have the right to enjoy myself.
11.I have the right not to be exploited financially or as ‘slave labor’.
These are just suggestions; if you feel this exercise necessary, please have a look at my examples above and then write your own list here.

This list should include all areas where you are currently having difficulty establishing your rights and should run from the biggest problems first to the least pressing problems, in numerical order. (Add as many pages as you need.)

If your partner is abusive or difficult do not give this list to your partner and likewise do not put it on your refrigerator, etc. Instead, please choose the most appropriate person for each point (that your partner respects) who would be the most shocked if they knew that your partner was insensitive to your feelings around these ‘rights’ and put their name next to each point. E.g. for Point 6, from my example list (about living free from pornography), the person might be the minister at your local church or some older family member, or for Point 1, about your children being treated with respect, it may be their sports coach or a teacher at their school.

Next I want you to first find the most approachable people lower down on the (ordered) list and contact them about your concerns about your partner’s behavior, being very careful that you bring this up in such a way that clearly shows you are concerned about your partner (you might say “I am trying to figure out how best to help him/her”) and not complaining or trying to get them to take sides.

Ask for this person’s advice, and then thank them and let them know you will do your best to take care of it.

Please be very calm and respectable while making these contacts and do not be emotional, just ask for their advice, make a note of it (and act on it if you think their advice is good), and thank them politely and leave it at that. It is not important that you get these people to do very much.

This whole exercise is simply to show your partner (we will get to this in the next steps in this exercise) that you are not bluffing when you say that you are looking for help with these problems outside the family and that you are no longer going to stay quiet.

Next, when you are both calm and preferably in a public place (such as a park or restaurant) let your partner know who you have contacted and that you hope they can start taking these matters more seriously.

They may get angry about this but it is very important that you are matter of fact and do not let them draw you into a fight. If they start to get angry use pre-planned scripts to disengage and have something else to do.

Over the next few weeks, finish this exercise by talking to your partner about the ‘right’ you want respected that you have chosen as the top of your list. Mention flatly that you hope you will not have to contact the person you have listed there to help you deal with this – but that if they do not take your concerns seriously you will.

The top item on the list might even be something quite serious that may put their job in danger (if their behavior warrants this) or might even involve them going to jail.

Tell them because you do not know how to deal with this on your own that you can no longer protect them from their own bad behavior.

Say that you do not want to threaten or punish them but you simply don’t know how to deal with it and so if they don’t take some immediate action, you will need to bring in outside help.

They may be shaken up by this and angry at first, so again I would suggest that you have this conversation in a public place such as a park or similar.

Because you have already contacted people recently, they should realize you are not bluffing. Again, make it clear that you are not trying to destroy their reputation, but that you really are concerned about them and they really are going to have to start working on the problem or you will need to ask for help. You must not let them spend too much time apologizing or making promises. Simply let them know that you will only be impressed with actions and not words. 

It is important before you speak to your partner (or loved one) that you have already contacted some of the people on your list to show that you really are not bluffing. Because if you threaten this without having made contact with anyone, you will have no backup or credibility for what you are warning them of. This may cause your partner to get very angry and try to intimidate you into silence. If you have already started making contacts outside your family, they may still become angry but should see that you mean business and will most likely think better of it. Still, I would be ready for them to become upset and so try to keep this discussion to a public place and have ‘back up’ ready if you have any fear of them becoming angry or violent.

If your partner is breaking the law and you are threatening to turn them in to the police, obviously you may be putting yourself in danger with this exercise and so please be smart with how you tackle this. If their bad behavior is of a criminal nature, make sure that you leave a way out (for them to get help) and that you choose the people in authority to mention it to who will be the most sympathetic towards assisting them.

It is also important that you do not leave yourself ‘open’ or vulnerable.

My father helped a few people in his life as a family doctor ‘get clean’ from drugs (when their dealers were threatening to kill them if they did) by instructing these people to write what they knew of the person intimidating them in a will, to be read publicly in the event of their death and to make three copies; giving one copy sealed in an envelope to an undisclosed attorney, one in a safe deposit box and the last copy to the person they felt threatened by.

This method worked very well to help a few of my father’s patients start a new life free from intimidation. Sometimes he offered his lawyer to help, but wisely, always asked not to be made a party to any of the information they wrote down.

Please note that this is not blackmail but personal protection and a warning to the person intimidating you of what will result if their intimidation or illegal activity (which is affecting your well being) continues.

Now, I am sure you have watched enough cops shows to know you need to play this smart. No bluffs and no threats and don’t leave yourself vulnerable to being ‘silenced’. This is your life and you need to play this smart. Don’t rush into this exercise and make sure you think it through fully and get it right, because no one else can see the situation you are in through your eyes and you need to realize that ultimately your safety (and possibly your children’s safety) is in your hands.


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Kim is the author of seven books on the topic of relationships and emotional intelligence.

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', and 'The Love Safety Net'.

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